Tuesday, December 02, 2008


The Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) had this to say:

Pluralist Speaks: Say it in 140

It speaks to what I see as one of the problems around discussing or dialoguing on the current issues in the Anglican Communion. I find the phrase, "closed hermeneutics fix the answer prior to any given question," particularly resonates with some of my struggles lately. There is a tendency to want to put the discussion within the traditional parameters, which do not utilize the growth of knowledge and methods of more recent years. When this happens the outcome is rather controlled.

I'm not sure where the balance is. I have struggled with this all my life. I have been a part of this diocese for 36 of my 48 years (4 of those years have been in the ordained ministry and 32 in lay ministry). It has been a relatively traditional diocese. I know my father, as a more liberal priest, was often almost a lone voice in the '70's. In more recent years we have moved closer to the centre. Because of my time spent here I do have an appreciation for tradition. I have always said that we need all spots on the spectrum as a system of checks and balances.

There's a problem in that as well. In a post below it was mentioned that since those of us who would bless same-sex marriages were bringing in something new we needed to defend it to the Church in order to change the status quo. I find that this often means that we also need to use traditional methods. Once we start branching out to some of the more recent ones ears are often closed to what we have to present.

In other words, the cards are stacked against us. It also provides a disconnect for those who have not kept their faith ties. They have become accustomed to more recent ways and understandings. They often cannot make the connection between what our traditional brothers and sisters are saying and what their experience and understanding are. I read a response from the Diocese of Westminster to the St. Michael's report. This response was by four people including Richard Legett and Sally McFague. As I read through it I realized that part of our problem was that our doctrines were not understood or articulated in a language that made sense to the average person today. Work seriously needs to be done in putting these into contemporary language. It is not that I necessarily believe that we must change those doctrines but rather that they need to be written so that most can understand what they are saying.

I first encountered this disconnect in the study guide that is mentioned a few posts below. One of the contributors used the 39 Articles as a reference point and printed some of those articles out. As they were written right out of the 1962 BCP in KJ English and cultural understanding of the words used, they would have been almost incomprehensible to the majority of my congregation. I realized that as much as some may value tradition and that part of that tradition is the language of the BCP, we foster a disconnect between the average person's faith life and the secular world. By fostering understandings that make faith seem poetic and set apart from the rest of our lives we are fostering a "Sunday" mentality - where we only need pay heed to our faith for an hour on Sunday mornings and then we can go out into the rest of the week until that hour the next Sunday.

I'm really not sure where I am going with this. It is something I have been pondering on for awhile. Once again, part of the problem is my difficulty with words. I know what the image is that I have in mind when I think about this but I struggle to get that image into words. I'm still working on it though because I think there is something important somewhere in that image even if I can't quite put my finger on it.

And how does this relate to what the Pluralist had to say. Maybe not at all but it was the Pluralists words that started the process of thinking on this once again. I think maybe it is that at times it is almost as though we are not speaking the same language. I often find - such as in the OT passages quoted as what some call "clobber verses" there is little relevance for the issue. There is no concept in them of the healthy, faithful relationships that we would bless (and there is no concept in them of homosexuality as that is a concept that didn't exist until the mid-1800's). For a number of people it is about the sex act that is spoken of in those passages and for a number of others the issue is about the goodness of the relationships we would bless. And the Church, especially the churches in the majority of the Anglican Communion, are insisting that we present our case in terms that do not reflect this difference.

I have talked to people who tell me that they are not necessarily against the approval of blessing of same-sex marriages but the Church has to put it in solid theological terms first. I keep thinking of the many papers I have read on the subject and thinking that we have presented our case in the many aspects already - we have offered biblical, theological, doctrinal etc. basis. It is not that we are being told that we are wrong but that we haven't done it. I wonder if it is because we aren't using the same methods or language. We just keep churning out more and more papers and avoiding the dialogue. Maybe it's because we can't find a common ground on which to start our dialogue in a language or terms that we all understand.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie


Anonymous said...

It's like you are trying to bait me.


Ann Marie said...

No. I am trying to engage in dialogue. I'm trying to find some sort of way in which conversation can happen. Instead, to some extent, you have decided to try and teach me the right way. I don't think you are going to change your mind nor am I, in all honesty. But I do love to discuss and debate. I put these things out here to spark conversation. I don't think we have to come to agreement on any of it. It is in challenge and conversation that I experience things and I learn through experience. I am what they call a "haptic" learner. It also helps me better understand and work better with my colleagues. Maybe it's more an attempt to challenge in a postive manner than it is to bait. However, it is not meant in a mean way but in the spirit of growth through engagement for all of us. I love to learn and that means hearing diverse voices. I love to get to know people and to know how they have come to be the people they are and hold the beliefs they do. I do that through conversation.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie