As the September 30th deadline approaches things are getting heated up. More bishops are being consecrated by African provinces, more talk is getting extreme. It’s getting to the point where I have slacked off following events and reading comments on blogs. However, I have been silently watching for too long – and anyone who knows me knows that it is unusual for me to be silent for long periods of time.
As much as I have respect for the episcopacy, why are bishops being consecrated. We hear of the bishops but what about the priests. It appears to me that the movement is starting in the wrong place – from the top down. Shouldn’t it be going from the ground up? Shouldn’t there be at least a solid group for the bishops to minister to? It has me very puzzled. Okay, the Africans are setting up missions in the states. From what I remember of my Canadian church history classes – the English did not send over bishops first but rather missionaries. When the need arose for a bishop on Canadian soil, one was consecrated. So why are bishops being consecrated for the States before the need for them arises? What does this say about the intent? What does this say about the motives driving this? In all honesty, to me it says nothing positive or Christian. I shall just leave it at that.
There are reports out of Africa – Nigeria to be specific – of horrible comments made by Bishop Orama of Nigeria. I think of the women and men I have the honour of knowing, especially through Integrity, and shake my head at the rhetoric. “Inhuman” – part of the irony is that not so many years ago people like the African bishop who calls gays and lesbians “inhuman” and not worthy of life were considered those very same things.
It is common that those who were oppressed take on the characteristics of the oppressors when they gain their freedom. We see this so often in the cycles of domestic abuse. We see it when nations gain their independence. And we see it in the very statements made by this African bishop. He has learned his lessons well.
But most astoundingly is the remarkable silence of certain factions of our church regarding the meaning of the statement. A fair amount has been said about the dangers of such a statement, but not much has been said about the wrongness in the meaning. This also puzzles me for I count many among my friends and colleagues who do not have the same understanding of full inclusion of my GLBT brothers and sisters and yet not one of them would ever consider calling GLBTs inhuman or not worthy of life. Why is there such a deafening silence as to the meaning of the statement from the more vocal?
I note that on Father Jake’s there have been some attempts to deflect by pointing out that nothing has ever been done to John Spong (I also note that he (John Spong) has sent a letter to Rowan Williams and I cringe.) What Spong has said or done has no bearing on what Bishop Orama of Nigeria has said. If one wants to question the lack of reining Spong in that is fine. There are times when I almost wish he could be silenced or at least that he would be far more diplomatic in his words and actions. But Bishop Spong has nothing to do with what Bishop Orama said. It is two separate issues and need to be dealt with as two separate issues. It is not okay for Bishop Orama to say what he did just because Bishop Spong has said and done what he has said and done. To try and deflect the words of the Nigerian bishop with such an issue does not address the issue. The issue is that some very damaging statements were made that could lead to bodily harm – painful death at its worst and shunning at the least and there is significant silence from the various leaders throughout the Anglican Communion on the issue. Where is Peter Akinola? Where is Rowan Williams? Where is Katharine (sp) Jefferts Schori? Where is Fred Hiltz? Where are statements made to counteract the statements by Orama to reassure our GLBT brothers and sisters that this statement does not reflect the mind of the Communion or the various provinces?
Of course, we don’t want to make a mountain out of what we perceive as mole hills and our leaders probably believe and hope that this will blow over. But each time something like this is said, another nail pierces the hearts and souls of those being spoken about. We realize that this bishop is not speaking the mind of the majority of the Communion but more noticeable than his words is the silence greeting them. There has to come a time when those in leadership positions stand up and say that this has gone to far. It has happened with TEC and New West. Why is it not happening with statements such as Orama’s?
Love and Prayers,
Thoughts from blogland (Some of these are thanks to Father Jake's site):
Susan Russell and this