Sunday, January 28, 2007


Yesterday we were in the city to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday. We stayed the house we purchased for our children while they go to university. As I was getting ready to go for coffee in the morning, my daughter, S., gave me a flyer that came in the mail box. I skimmed the first paragraph and glanced at the rest. I really didn't need to read beyond that first paragraph to know that I was not interested in what this flyer had to say.

But, what it did say was horrible and I have a number of gay and lesbian friends (being a member of Integrity). I could only think about how they would feel had this flyer ended up in their mailbox. Now, I know that most people would see this flyer for what it is - my two neighbours certainly did and both of them did not appreciate it in their mail box. If anything, the flyer would annoy most people rather than convince them - the language was so inflamatory and the stats and incidences so unreal that most people would probably be like me and not really read beyond the title. Still it annoyed me that this flyer was being passed around and that someone had the gall to put such hate literature in my mail box with the claim that they had the right to do so because they were Christian and supporting true faith in God and adherence to the scriptures.

So what do you do with such a flyer? Close your eyes to its existence? I've already closed my eyes enough. So after coffee I drove down to the police station to show them the flyer and put in a complaint. The woman at the front desk told me there was nothing they could do. I said fine, I will find some other way of dealing with this. I think she was concerned about what I might do so she asked me what my plans were. I told her I might write an editorial to the newspaper or somewhere. Basically she told me to suck it up and live with it. I told that I was sorry that I couldn't do that because this sort of thing was very hurtful to my friends. Still, her response was something along the lines of give up and live with it.

Normally I am polite to the nth degree, especially when in serious disagreement with someone. I would normally have thanked this woman for her time and said good-bye. But I was so frustrated that I just turned away and walked out the door. And of course, as always happens when I am that mad and frustrated, I was in tears. I got in my car and had no clue what to do. So I did what I often do, I went to see Shawn (yes, the same Shawn who comments here). After showing Shawn the flyer, he phoned the police and got an entirely different story. Yes, there was a place for a complaint to be made, one just had to bring the flyer in.

Now, I was furious. There's not much I can do about the response of the policewoman. For one thing, I never thought to get her name. But to be told that I should be quiet about something so disgusting and hateful, that there was nothing I could do about such hate literature being passed around (even though most people would probably ignore it - but there are a few people that it might fuel in a negative way) made me feel so powerless. How can it be that writer of this flyer can say whatever he pleases and not be called to account for it? What does it say about a society that allows such flyers without accountability but which strives to silence the more rational voices?

Silence. I think that if I had to describe one of the most evil things in the world that might be it. Silence. How it harms people. Now, I know that there are times for silence but there are times when silence needs to be broken in order for health and healing.

I think of the parishes who have suffered from abusive leaders and how they are condemned to silence. This silence is not necessarily because the leadership in the church is afraid of negatives being known although that is part of it. I have come to understand, though, through personal experience, that we are forced into silence through society's legal systems. We can't speak out against abusers because then we will be the ones charged with libel or whatever. The abuser can get away with just about anything but our hands are tied in regard to honesty. From personal experience and through conversations with others I have learned that this silence fosters the continuation of evil because it means that the evil is not made accountable.

Silence also hurts because it leaves the victim powerless and feeling isolated. Once again, because the victims have no recourse without suffering even more themselves, the evil is allowed to thrive.

And silence is what is occurring throughout the WWAC. There are people speaking but they are the ones fostering exclusion. They are hurting those who have little or no voice because no one is allowing the voiceless to speak. Those who should speak for them are being silent. I realize that the silence is thought of as postive by those practicing it. By being silent they are lessening the potential for conflict. Or are they? Will they wake up some morning to find that their very silence has brought about a world (or a church) that is so far from Jesus' vision of the kingdom that there may be little chance of healing.

Evil is allowed to grow in the silence. If not brought to the light it is allowed to flourish and grow stronger. Is that really what we want. When will someone speak out?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Justice or Gospel

In listening to those around me who oppose same - sex blessings, I have notice how they seem to close down when you mention justice or human rights. It's as if these concepts have no place in the dialogue. It is as if gospel is separate from the issue of human rights and justice.

Now it may be because I was brought up by parents who have a keen sense of social justice but I cannot see, for the life of me, how you can separate the idea of justice from the Scriptures.

I will admit that my understanding of the Bible is strongly influenced by the prophets. And thus, my reading of the gospel is also influenced by the prophets. Add to that my upbringing with social justice issues and you can see why I don't see the separation of either. I'm really not sure why the church has so many either/or scenarios rather than both/and so much more.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. (Luke 4:18-19).
My understanding of the gospel is very much based on the reading for Epiphany C (which I have to preach on this Sunday - thanks C.)

I have always read this passage in the light of Jesus ministry with those excluded by the purity system in place at the time of his earthly ministry. I have read books which speak to the oppression and exclusion of people due to the unrealistic and unfair requirements placed on them by a system that wished to set itself apart. I have read about the exclusion of people based on things that they could not change or control. And I have read the gospels in the light of Jesus freeing human kind from such requirements and giving us the example of a personal and loving relationship with our Creator. And still we wish to exclude - homosexuals from being able to experience loving relationships and women from participating fully in the life of the church.

But then, I have never believed that being a Christian is just about belief. I take to heart seriously the words of James that faith without works is dead. How can we help people understand how deep the love of God is if we show them exclusion rather than lovingly guide them into a better life, not through fear of God but in response to the love of God.

"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

And there we have it. Justice is not separate from our faith or our service to God. Jesus did not preach injustice nor does the Bible condone it. If we are hesitant to deal with an issue of justice because it appears to contradict our interpretation of the scriptures, maybe we had best look at those scriptures again - this time through the eyes of Jesus rather than through the eyes of humankind.

To deny people access to something whether it be a relationship blessed in community or women in ordained ministry is to go against the Word of the Lord for it is imposing on them the purity system that Jesus saw as unjust and that he worked to abolish. To claim that those who support the blessing of same sex unions and/or the ordination of women as people who do not follow the Bible is to do a serious injustice. Jesus asked that we look at those words a life giving manner not in a life denying manner and each time we deny an expression of love or the call to serve God based on an interpretation of the scriptures we are using the text in a manner contrary to that of Jesus.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Intact Spiritually

Intact Spiritually?
Over the past few months I have seen the reaction ofthe more entrenched patriarchal members of the Worldwide Anglican Communion to Katharine Jefferts Schori. They have focused on her theology as the reason they will not sit down with her.

What a joke! If I wasn't so hurt and frustrated by all that is going on, I would laugh in their faces. KJS is not alone in her expressions of faith nor is TEC or ACC. Point blank, dot, dot, the reason these men will not sit with her is tht she's a woman. They don't even have the courage of their conviction to be honest about it. They're afraid of losing the support of various groups who have given them their power in the Communion. They're afraid of public opinion and having their actions dismissed by more accepting members of the Communion and so they fudge the issue. I could respect them them if they were honest but now I not only disagee with them, I have lost all respect or belief that they are acting with integrity.

Usually I am polite and diplomatic, respecting and accepting other people's expressions of their faith. I really do try to listen to those with whom I disagree on matters of human sexuality but I've had it.

I think the Panel of Reference's recommendations on the application by Fort Worth was the next to last straw. The last straw has been the silence of our own church and every other church that ordains women. There are no words to express the depth of betrayal I feel by this silence.

There is no other aspect of Western society that would allow marginalization of women but we allow it in our expressions of faith. Why? When I read the gospels I see no basis for it. Jesus was affirming of women,their abilities and actions. That comes through even after the patriarchal cover-ups and suppressions through the centuries. Why do so many people place women as second class citizens in our religion? Why do we women accept it?

I am a Christian. I accept Christ as my personal saviour. I do my best to follow his teachings. But I am reaching the point where I cannot accept the church's treatment of me (meaning my gender) just because I happen to be a woman (a thing I celebrate daily). I love my parish and my people and that is what keeps me going for now. I accept my call by God and that is what keeps me here. (I only wish that I could also celebrate that call but I can't because it constantly places me in a position where I am made to feel less - I guess that is the cross I am called to bear in my ministry - but I don't have to like it.) The words from other parts of the Communion and the silence afterwards from my own church here in Canada are deafening. I am beginning to wonder how much longer I can stay spiritually intact if I stay.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Update on the Weekend

Hello all,

Just a quick follow up on my last post. Dad is now out of the hospital. After his heart rate went down to 20 on Thursday night, they told him the problem was electrical and they would put in a pace maker. They wouldn't let him out until that was done as his heart was stopping every once and awhile and they didn't want to take a chance on it not starting on its own. So, they put the pace maker in around 6pm on Friday and released him just after 11 on Saturday.

The supper in his honour went well. Would have been great had Dad been feeling good. My brothers and sister were there with their families or at least portions of their families. Bishop Tom gave a glowing tribute to Dad. It was wonderful to hear. I was MC and hopefully did well. I had worked on it until 4 in the morning, so it was a long day.

I give thanks to God for God's wonderful mercy. It was touch and go with Dad but we have made it through.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back to blogging soon

Hi all,

I haven't added anything for so long but not for lack of trying. I didn't realize that for some reason my laptop on wireless will not give me access to this. I decided to try to get access from my son's computer and it worked. Now I know to use something other than my laptop. Guess I'll try later from my desktop.

I don't have much to say right now, although I have been reflecting on certain things such as the primate's of the global south's reception of Katharine Jefferts Schori and on the Panel of Reference decision over the application of Forth Worth. I have to say that I have grave concerns but don't have the time to write them down.

Right at the moment my dad is in the hospital. He will get out either tomorrow or Saturday (all going well). They're not sure what exactly is wrong but they have narrowed it down to his heart. He fainted yesterday and fell. This resulted in a need for stitches. Unfortunately, the celebration of 50 years of ordination is Saturday night. We're trying to decide if we should cancel it or just modify it. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Good new is that our good friend B. is being ordained in March. I am so thrilled and will be there with bells on. Okay, maybe I'll forgo the bells on this occasion as I'm bishop's chaplain. I will try to be as reserved and conservative as I can but I'm not giving up my purple hair or my nails. Fortunately it won't be dark so my nails won't be glowing floresent green. They'll actually look quite sedate. Anyhow, I am so happy about B's ordination and am looking forward to it.

New Year's Eve was very nice with a number of us getting together here in the city. J hosted it at his house and gave us wonderful news which made the evening all the more special. It was good to see my best friends from seminary as we haven't been together for so long.

I'll leave this now and work on my post about women's ordination and the reception by various parts of the WWAC.

Take care you all.
Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie