Thursday, May 11, 2006

I promised myself a while back I wouldn't spend so much time blogging on church politics, but here we go again, the third entry in a row.

The Episcopal Voices of Central listserv moderator found this lovely, spiritual post at Virtue. How awful that a canon in the Episcopal Church writes this kind of stuff.

Maybe it's a good thing the Cathedral lists itself only as a member of the Network, and not the Episcopal Church.

Here it is, with my **[comments]**


By Canon Gary L'Hommedieu
Special To Virtueonline

Ever wonder why the mainline denominations have gone to war over sodomy? Does anyone really believe this issue is the moral equivalent to slavery in the 19th century, or segregated lunch counters in the 20th? Or, for that matter, to slavery and genocide in the 21st century, both of which get a "pass" from the more refined activism of today's church leaders?

**[What is he talking about? It's the ACN/AAC who's buddying up to provinces whose leaders go along with slavery, genocide, female mutilation and other atrocities. An it's very strange homosexuality looms as the great evil, while the "orthodox and traditional" ignore these violations against humanity. I imagine 60 years ago, the canon would have put the Civil Rights movement into the same context -- that it was all about miscenegation and "colored" men lusting after white women -- and white men's positions. I won't even get into the Virtue-like obsession with anal sex.] **

How has the leadership of the Episcopal Church (along with others) decided that now is the time and this is the issue; that it is worth dividing congregations and communions?

These same leaders would insist that gay liberation is the natural successor to the movements that preceded it. They would point to the handful of minority representatives in their front offices who can be counted on to sing in chorus that all liberations are created equal. They would say, in effect, that the New Spirit of Christ came not to bring peace but a sword; let us throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may. **[Yes, let us follow the example of Jesus Christ, who was ever so cautious not to offend the religious leadership, or the Romans]**

[Am I picking up a thread of racism here?]

But why is the present argument more intense and more shrill than the fashionable protests of preceding decades? Is this really the pinnacle of moral discourse in the churches and in democratic societies, or is time running out on moral discourse, whether fashionable or not?
**[So we live in a perfect world, where no further moral discourse is necessary? Lovely!]**

Put another way: why has the liberal machine, in church and society, put its eggs in this basket? Whose approval do they seek **[God's]**, and what do they hope to accomplish? **[justice]** And why the note of desperation as they approach still another ideological victory on another hot button issue? **[Actually, it's the AAC/Network people who sound shrill, and desperate to hang onto the "traditional" status quo]**

For many religious groups in America protest has become a religion. **[Protest against injustice is a response to faith and the teachings of Jesus Christ}** A few months ago as I drove past the local Unitarian Church **[uh-oh, those dang liberals}** in my hometown, I read on the marquis: "Freedom to Marry." At the time a number of states were considering legislation regarding same-sex unions. Here, then, was a cause du jour. Gay marriage was inserted into the blank where peace had been a few weeks earlier and some reference to the environment a few weeks before that. People's
responses would be the same in each case. I realized that the cause fulfilled a need. People needed to feel outraged over the manifest aggression of some unseen Oppressor and empowered by their rage. **[Yeah, like the poor oppressed Network, raging against the "liberal' Episcopal Church]**

In America people often protest not because they believe in causes, but because they believe in protest. They "believe" in the ritual sense that the familiar form of protest mediates to them feelings of assurance and righteousness. Such ritualized mediation is the basis of religious practice. The cause doesn't matter, whether it be genocide or vegetarianism. The essence is: They are trying to oppress Us (again) and so we must assert ourselves and protest.
**[The cause does matter. Comparing the "cause" of opposing genocide to the "cause" of vegetarianism is a slap in the face to all those people who put their lives on the line to seek justice -- just as the Bible tells us to do.]**

I whine, therefore I am. **[Yes, you do seem to be doing a lot of whining]**

It is noteworthy that there is no risk in today's protests. The new protesters are not accustomed to fighting for their lives but (at most) for their lifestyles. **[Go tell that to the family and friends of Matthew Shepard, you ignorant twit. Sorry, I'm getting more sarcastic as I read. Just refer back to this comment for the next few sentences]** They are not the successors of the Civil Rights marchers in the '50's and early '60's, when protesters met with
dogs, fire hoses, police clubs, and lynchings. Today's protesters are met with cameras and politicians. Furthermore, they're not fighting an upward battle against great odds like the marchers of old but, more likely, riding the crest of a popular wave. Most causes have been pre-approved by media outlets long before they make it to the streets.

Ironically, if protesters were to achieve their goals, they would be at a loss. The end of protest for them would mean the end of life as they knew it. Not so the protesters of the '50's, for whom victory meant the peaceful assimilation into society in order to get on with living.

**[Peaceful, quiet assimilation and getting on with life is just what most of the gay people I know want, and why so many have been fearful of coming out. I wrote a newspaper article about our changing local community a while back, and the growth of the gay community. I interviewed a number of gays and lesbians who were willing to speak. After the article was published, I received anonymous letters from other gays and lesbians, expressing the hurts, rejections, intolerance and hatred they've experienced, and why they would be afraid to be publicly identified as gay/lesbian. They just wanted to be able to go about their jobs and lives without being harassed. As one person said, (I'm paraphrasing, from memory) you could live next door to me, and never know I'm gay. I'm a respectable member of the community; I pay my taxes; I go to work every day. I don't try to turn anyone gay. I just want to live my life without being harassed.}**

Minority members from the early days have their own reasons for jumping on the bandwagon of contemporary protest. Jesse Jackson would be nobody if the dreams of Dr. King became reality, as would be his counterparts in bureaucratic offices throughout the country. **[Here's that tinge of racism again.]**

But what about keepers of the old majority who have bought into the religion of protest? What about silver-haired patricians, limousine liberals from the old school, like Episcopal bishops, who have recently shifted from the country club Right to the country club Left? At what point did they sense it was in their interests to equate the Faith with a cause - any cause - even if it meant throwing overboard the Faith once delivered?
**[Oh, would that I were one of those "limousine liberals" -- my aching bank account would thank me so much. Sorry, Canon. This can't be denigrated to a project for the idle rich. Again, it goes back to a matter of faith, for me and for others, who have risked a lot more than I have.}**

It is a simple historic fallacy that the present ideology of "inclusion" is the natural development of the Christian gospel
contained in the historic creeds and confessions of the churches. **[Why, yes. If you read the Gospels, you find Jesus is an inclusionary sort.]** What's more, everyone knows it. Protest is, among other things, the
moral equivalent to pitching a fit to confuse anyone who would press for a real explanation. **[Unless it's your protest.]**

Keep in mind who is leading the charge in the present debate over sexuality. It is not the "wretched of the earth", but well heeled, over-indulged, upper-middle class advocates of the sexual revolution. Such a "revolution" makes a mockery of earlier revolutions, which its advocates would realize if they did not have so much at stake in their own histrionics. **[Again, oh, would that I were well-heeled. And pushing for civil and human rights in no way makes a mockery of earlier movements]**

What is at stake is maintaining their elitist position in church and society. This is why elitists take up the causes of "little people" everywhere: not to make the causes their own - they couldn't if they wanted to, as any hardened revolutionary would tell them, and as their own front-office activists tell each other in guarded tones around the
water cooler. **[ah, so bitter and jealous. Why does he feel so threatened he has to view gays and lesbians as an angry mob at his gates?]**

The powerful sense the political ground shifting around them. Many fool themselves into thinking that they can maintain their present position in the social pecking order by appeasing the right angry mob. **[??}** But when the ground shifts a little more, and the mob achieves critical mass, the elites will be among the first to be thrown overboard.

Soon Episcopal elites will have served the Revolution in the only real way they can: they have sold their Mother down the river. They have contributed admirably to the destabilizing of Western culture. There's not much more they can contribute, except their money. And even that is running out.

We must forgive the good bishops if their protests become shrill, even on such an unceremonious moral subject. The spirituality of protest is pretty down-to-earth after all. It's about survival. **[I agree, but I'm sure my interpretation is a bit different than he intends his words!]**

--The Rev. Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon in charge of Pastoral Care at St.
Luke's Cathedral in Orlando, Florida.

**[The reverend seems so angry and threatened; pray for him. Also pray for any gays at the cathedral who need pastoral care, if any are left. This is so sad.]**


Bruno said...

Thank you for standing with us.
I can't even read these rants anymore, I realize that to these people I and those like me are non people, we don't feel, they know us better than we do ourselves.
Thank you and Blessings upon you

hp_flash said...

". . . I read on the marquis . . . ."

Do the Unitarians down there hang unemployed English noblemen in front of their churches, or do they hire them with sandwich boards?

I thought that Episcopal clergy had some sort of minimal educational requirements.

Anonymous said...

I was linked from Fr. Jake's. Pat, how can you stand to read such stuff; I think it's bad for spiritual health. And how on earth can you stand being in the diocese of Central Florida?

God's peace

Saint Pat said...

Johnnie, I don't go to the Virtue-type sites often, because it is soul-sickening. I picked up this entry from an Episocopal Voices listserv posting. If I were nearer the border of a non-Network diocese, I'd have jumped ship after all this started, but here I am. So I figure maybe God doesn't want all us moderates leaving the diocese to the Network. Maybe my little voice makes some difference, some way. Who knows.

Bruno, I reach out through the blogosphere and give you a big {{{{{hug}}}}} and kiss on the cheek! Hang in there and know you are loved.

hp -- maybe it's the Marquis de Akinola. Heh-heh-heh.

Blessings to all of you.

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