More news from the convention
Among the trends I've noticed in this diocese the past couple of years is bridge-building to the African churches. It's a response to the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson's ratification and installation; the leadership has been seeking ties with those who agree with them on the hot-button issue of homosexuality.
The African churches are right in (lock)step with the "orthodox and traditional" segment of the Episcopal Church on this: they display a virulent, hate-filled homophobia. They also agree with the ultraconservatives in throwing out Hooker's three-legged stool, and have a very narrow field of vision when they look at Scripture.
I'll give credit and say yes, there are probably some altruistic motives on both sides of this bosom-buddiness that's been so in evidence A.R. (after Robinson), but I'm cynical enough to think politics is the big reason: forming an alliance within the Anglican Union to throw out the revisionists and get everybody back to the "right" thinking of a couple of hundred years ago. Letting the homosexuals know they're not welcome, putting women back in their places, etc.
I posted my concerns about this alliance a year ago, in February 2004:
"The Gene Robinson issue is only a small part of the picture as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to be taken or dragged out of the Episcopal Church into some other "province," or to have authority over it given to foreign primates who have a lot of cultural differences, including polygamy, slavery, child labor exploitation and stoning. I don't think the AAC bishops involved in this realize how dangerous giving away this power is. They think they'll really be controlling things behind the scenes and have the mantle handed to them after they've purged and purified the church.
"Nor do I want to go to some Calivinistic, repressive church where you can have only one interpretation of scripture (theirs, fundamentalist) or you're not a Christian.
Some of the AAC bishops, including the one in this diocese,
have been engaged in talks with these foreign, ultraconservative
bishops: July 15, 2003, Bishop Howe, among other AAC-affiliated bishops, signed a letter to "Concerned Primates" to address "the crisis of Faith and Order that is increasingly unfolding among us:"
In the face of these looming departures from evangelical truth and catholic order, and in line with our commitment to oppose all such innovations in every Godly way, we do hereby affirm the moral and spiritual authority of you, the "Concerned Primates" of the Anglican Communion, and do join in commitment with you to address the situation under your leadership. We desire to act in concert with you, and are ready to take counsel from you. We pledge solidarity with you in sharing common faith and practice within an Anglicanism that is submitted to her sovereign Lord, true to his holy Word, and at one with the catholic Church. We stand ready, in concert with you, to commit to common responses to the deteriorating situation within the Episcopal Church and
I went on to say, "I don't respect bishops who are so willing to hand their flocks over to others. I don't want to be subjected to these primates' "moral and spiritual authority," thank you very much. They need to work on setting their own houses in order...These men seem to have a brew of fundamentalist theology, anger and suspicion toward anything different -- like ordained women or Gene Robinson -- lust for power and contempt for their flocks, from whom they want to conceal so many of their actions, with closed, secret meetings, secret memos and stealthy plans [i.e., the Plano Convention and the Chapman Memo].
I wrote, "Father Dearest [the rector in my old parish] accused me of trying to "discredit" the Network. I don't think I have to -- they do it themselves as soon as the light is shined on their activities."
So, these are the reasons I look with scepticism on the African alliance. I'll have no truck with the hate-filled theology of Peter Akinola or the ultra-right priests who put themselves under a Rwandan or Ugandan or whatever foreign province.
We were treated to a big dose of African music and African-style worship during the convention -- which I enjoyed greatly. Also of Hispanic music (yes, we're universalists, and Hispanics agree with our ultraconservatives on sexuality, too).
All very enjoyable. I could feel the Holy Spirit moving during the church service, and it occurred to me that the Spirit will take this, even when brought forth with a lot of wrong reasons, and use it for good. Maybe we Anglo-Episcopalians can absorb some of this joy in worship while showing that God's love extends to all. I hope so.
I am praying that regarding mergers with African provinces, the Bishop, having taken a look, is backing away from the precipice.
Go here if you want to read his address to the convention.
The homophobia still rages, though. The deacons were all called to share a lunch together. I found out the topic of conversation was publication for deacons containing a magazine article the archdeacon objected to. The article was by a gay postulant for the priesthood in Atlanta. He talked about the terrible days of the 1980s with the AIDS epidemic, losing so many of his friends, and coming through it.
I got just a quick look at the article (I wish I could get a copy of it. I don't recall the author's name). He took some jabs at both the church and the gay community for their response to AIDS. Yet, I could see this man's faith coming through, a faith that sustained him through all the horrible stuff, and through losing so many of his friends.
The archdeacon apparently took severe umbrage at this "gay" story by a gay priest. She apparently wants all the deacons in the diocese on her side of the argument, for she complained to the magazine editor, accusing him of pushing a gay agenda. He responded to her letter, saying he doesn't take any sides, but publishes articles from various points of view.
So the homophobia continues. And I question motives for a lot of things I see around here.
Jesus called for all who are burdened to come to him. He didn't exclude anyone.
Holy Spirit, work all this to your good, I pray.