Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Episcopal Church Moves to Fully Embrace all Baptized Persons

The Episcopal Church has a general convention that meets every three years. For the past five conventions, they have tried to pass compromise resolutions to handle the complaints of conservatives that they were being too inclusive of gays while advancing "equal rites" within the church. The unexpected climax of a building confrontation with conservative forces came in 2003 with the ordination of Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire. A handful of congregations and four dioceses (0f 80) bolted from the church. Same thing happened over the ordination of women in the 1970s. Then the other partners in the Anglican Communion overseas in the "developing south" demurred strongly. (Others, like the churches in Scotland and Canada, were supportive of the American church). In 2006, the Episcopal General Convention voted a controversial moratorium on the ordination of gay bishops and on the adoption of formal rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. But it also elected a woman as Presiding Bishop for the first time. It was hoped that the response from the rest of the Anglican communion would be conciliatory. It wasn't. The response was to tell us to get bent. Several of these fellow bishops refused even to take communion with our Presiding Bishop.

So, basically, the American church has finally had it. In keeping with a national spirit of renewal and change, the Episcopal church is voting today to lift the moratorium on ordaining gays to any office and to authorize rites for same sex blessings. It is expected that the Episcopal church will have formally adopted all of these measures by the end of the week. The church is considering a further measure to give priests and bishops wide latitude to respond as they please to any local jurisdiction that authorizes same sex marriages.

The amazing thing is to see and read about the convention. What you are seeing is not trepidation or legislation, but an outpouring of joy and the holy spirit. Compromise has its season. So does action. I hope that the coming generation may find churches to be places of hope and community. This isn't just about gay people. It's about saying to everyone that God loves you just as you are, and that there is nothing you can do, no matter how awful, and no power on earth or beyond it that can separate you from the love of God. For many on this blog that doesn't matter at all, I know. For other people, though, this can matter a lot, particularly those who have been taught from an early age that an angry God despised them, and whose psyches have been warped by this.

[Update: The first resolution about ordaining gay persons was passed by more than 2/3 of the delegates present in the two houses.]


Anonymous said...

LTG and I have, over the years, had many conversations about faith and the role organized religion plays in enhancing or diminishing one's relationship with God. It is not a stretch to so say that I have struggled mightily with myself about my beliefs and the existence of God. In fact, one of the reasons that Anna Karenina is and always shall be my favorite novel is that I identify so much with Levin's struggle to comprehend existence and the role God plays in our lives.
I was raised Catholic. Around the age of 14 I felt the Church (and God) had no impact on my life. This continued for a dozen years, and not once did I feel the slightest need for faith or religion. This began to change, though, and I remember remarking to LTG over dinner once that I felt like I was standing behind a glass door, and I could feel and sense the warmth and comfort of God through the glass, but could (or would) not open the door. I realized soon after that my difficulty in opening that door (to strain the analogy further) stemmed from a lack of a true mechanism to do so. To resolve this, I became a practicing Catholic again. This felt natural, especially since my wife is a devout Catholic.
The years we spent in New York were an especially joyous time since the parish we attended was led by a Jesuit Monsignor who preached love, compassion, and all of the tenets of a true, fulfilling faith.
Upon our return to California, everything changed. Scandals, conservative parishes and other issues (Benedict) laid bare the serious problems with the Church. True, these problems existed during our time in New York, but the experience of faith in our parish trumped any qualms we might have had. I began to ask my wife to try different denominations, which she resisted. The Episcopalian parish seemed ideal, until the rift started. With so much upheaval, we ended up baptizing our daughter in a Catholic church because, after all, we were dealing with her immortal soul.
Since then, I have been adrift. I even wrote a long letter to the Monsignor in New York explaining my troubles. His response was understanding, but direct: go to church. The church is a man-made institution and anything man-made is bound to be imperfect. Cold comfort.
Comfort may be forthcoming, however. In a true example of how destructive the Catholic church has become, my wife (!) has recently confided that she shares my sense of unease, confusion, and lack of community with our church. We long for the sense of hope and community that should come with faith and belief in God.
So, LTG, I am excited about your reading of what the Episcopal church action means to you. This is something for my family to consider. I still hold some hope to the notion that one can change an institution from the inside, however, and must give every effort to do so.
Either way, the process of seriously examining one's faith, whatever the outcome, is surely an act that brings one closer to God.


Anonymous said...

As someone who was brought up in a conservative Presbyterian denomination, I couldn't stay for any number of reasons, but I admire those who make Rolleroid's choice. My only form of institutional protest is rolling my eyes whenever I hear the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ever since I started attending an Episcopal church, I have been glad I can tell my gay friends, "no, seriously, it's not *that* kind of church. We're big into gay people." And we are. Law Talking Baby's compatriots in the nursery include a little boy with two mommies, she is cooed and fussed over by any number of confirmed bachelors, and the first priest to bless her as a newborn was a lesbian. As far as I'm concerned, that's just as it should be.

-Seventh Sister

Dr. Strangelove said...


In your view, would your daughter's immortal soul have been in any way jeopardized had she been baptized by (say) a Methodist minister or Episcopalian priest instead of a Catholic priest? Or if I may put it another way, do you believe that Protestant baptisms are in any way less meaningful to God than Catholic baptisms?

It can be difficult to read emotion in a blog, so please understand that I am asking this question with respect and curiosity, not sarcastically in any way!

Anonymous said...

Dr S.
The choice to baptize my daughter as a Catholic was due to the fact that we had only started looking at other churches .
I simply would not have forgiven myself if somehow she had died while I was lollygagging.
I never considered one baptism as better than another.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Thanks for clarifying. I did not catch the timing issue.

Pombat said...

From a personal viewpoint, what churches do doesn't mean anything to me, as I do not believe in any gods.

From a societal viewpoint, as well as a "know religious people to whom this matters" viewpoint, this is fantastic. I understand and respect the fact that some people wish to be involved in a religion, and so it is genuinely good to see churches acting in a genuinely god-loving way, accepting all people for who and what they are.

The opposite type of church are the ones who are responsible for my sometimes quite verbally-violent reactions to religion - the type that are summed up in this opinion piece by Jimmy Carter in the Age today (note he's talking mostly about women, but his points extend to gays as well as any other 'different' group). I'm very pleased to be able to say that what LTG has summed up above sounds to me like all the good stuff, with none of the bad stuff in the opinion piece. Good on them.