Sunday, November 25, 2007

And now the finger pointing (Updated)

I don't get the local paper. I keep up by watching the news on TV and listening to coffee row. A parishoner told me there was an article in the city paper about the schism. Most of my people are trying to figure out how you pronounce the word let alone being worried about it. I asked to see the article and the parishoner brought it to church this morning.

I just glanced at it before the service. I didn't get into what the whole thing said. At first glance what struck me was the fact that people like me are to solely to blame - the horrible liberals. I'm not "liberal". My theology prof informed me (and I take great pride in this) that I never made it through the Reformation theologically. My theology stops at the time leading up to the Reformation. So to me, the people accusing me of being liberal and to blame for the current schism are the radical liberals.

I'm not going to point a finger and point to the more extreme conservatives and say that they are to blame. I was brought up to understand that there is more than one side to any issue and that we all contribute to conflict and crisis. But I deeply resent being held solely (as part of a group) responsible for the present situation and the judgemental language that surrounds the blame. I apologize, I don't have an on-line subscription to be able to access the article but I am going to look at what it says.

The first exciting thing this article has to say is that the Anglican Church of Canada has been poisonsed by liberalism and is the real cause of schism now underway. Pretty strong wording if you ask me. Nothing like demonizing the "other". I usually find that when such hyperbole is being used there is shaky ground underneath.

"Those who are unfaithful to the heritage are the schismatics. It is not we who are the schismatics." At least if you are going to act on your convictions, have the courage to do so. Don't hide behind posturing and words. Who is taking the action of separating from the rest of the Anglican Church of Canada - which, by the way, is still very much a part of the World Wide Anglican Communion. I'm not saying that they are wrong in their doing so. I happen to believe they are but I acknowledge that they see no other options and I can respect them acting on what they hold to be true doctrine. But I don't respect them for casting full blame on the "other" with a total disregard to the fact that we hold equally strongly to our convictions and sincerely believe that we are being true to our heritage.

"the Anglican Church of Canada has been poisoned by a liberal theology that 'knows nothing of a God who uses (the Bible) to tell us things and knows nothing of sin in the heart and in the head." I beg your pardon. That's pretty judgemental. I may not agree with how this person understands the Bible and sin but I would never say that they know nothing about God or sin. We may understand and interpret differently but to say one of us knows nothing ... that's not facing reality. At times I get so frustrated at my lack of ability to use language. I think and write in pictures and words often fail the visions I have in my head. I'm sruggling to put into the words the picture I have of the hand flick that totally discounts anything one doesn't want to acknowledge or think about - that sort of "whatever" attitude that does not engage seriously with the conversation. The sort of - what you say can have no worth because you are wrong and I am right so that anything you have to say doesn't not need to be heard and certainly has no validity- attitude, the brushing off of me (and those who share my beliefs) as of no account, no value, as of little worth as a fellow child of God.

If I had no knowledge of sin, I would not have such a strong sense of God's grace. That sense of God's grace comes through my reading of the Bible and through my own personal experience of God.

" ... the Anglican Church of Canada is being ruined by its attempts to 'play catch-up with the culture' by adpoting whatever 'is the in-thing.'" I think that what frustrates me the most about this statement is that it totally negates the years of study and meditation that I did when I came to support full inclusion. At first I didn't support it. Gradually, as I looked at the scriptures and meditated on what I had read and learned, I came to understand that God was calling us to continue to grow in our understanding of God's work in creation. Certainly if I was following the prevalent attitude of the society around me, I would continue to be against full-inclusion. I just had a discussion with one of my of my parishoners on the very issue last night well aware that I am a distinct minority in this particular community and within this diocese. I'm not adopting a whatever "is the in-thing" attitude. I'm very much bucking the in-thing around here. After all my years of studying, I find I cannot go back and embrace what is the "in-thing" in this community.

Considering all the flack those who support full-inclusion are getting from many different sources - the demonizing, the discounting, the threats of loss - of salvation, of connection, of communion - this has to be more than just going with the flow. It is certainly a hard road that we are travelling going against what many in our common faith hold to be true. We have to have the courage of our convictions, and that courage does not come by taking the scriptures or our faith lightly.

(The quotes in bold were from the article "Anglican Church divided over liberal theology" found in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on Friday, November 23, 2007. It was written by Charles Lewis of CanWest News Service. (It probably also appears in the National Post as that is in brackets and italics at the bottom of the article.) The theologian quoted is J.I. Packer.)

(Update: I have now found a link . The article in the Star Phoenix only went as far as "Officlas said Thursday a new North American Anglican province, which would include Canadian and American parishes, is now being discussed. It did not include anything about Michael Ingham.)

I disagree with a number of the priests in this diocese on the issue of full-inclusion (but certainly not all as I am definitely not alone in my understanding), but at no time do I discount what they have to say or demonize them or their beliefs. I accept that there are different experiences, different teachings, different understandings of things as basic as our image of God, lying between. I do not discount or flick my hand at what they have to say. I listen seriously to their concerns and I do consider their conversations when I reflect on the scriptures and meditate on full-inclusion. I continue to disagree with them, but I don't blame them for what is happening.

I think that schism is enevitable because our very basic understandings cannot be reconciled. Maybe schism is life-giving for all of us, I don't know. I respect them for sticking to their convictions and holding on to their integrity. I am sorry that we cannot continue our journey together because I think we each hold a key to the mystery of God. But I cannot respect or accept the blame that is being placed on those like me. I cannot respect or accept the discounting of something I firmly and sincerely have come to hold true. I cannot respect or accept the continuous accusations of secularism and heresy and non-biblical teachings when I know that what I hold to be true has come from scripture and from prayer and meditation whose source is the very God they claim I do not acknowledge. At the base of everything I hold to be true is the source of all life, the source of all that is, the source of all that I am and all that I will come to be as I grow further into the knowledge and love of that source - what we, as Christians, call God.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

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