Yesterday morning (before leaving for church), I got an email from a search committee about a very nonstandard job (nonparochial). I'd interviewed over the phone with them a few weeks ago, and although I thought I did an effective job on the interview, I came away from it thinking that I was really not what they were looking for. A shame, I thought at the time, because it was a reaaalllllly interesting job, doing ministry that I think is at the heart of what Jesus bids us to do in Matt 25: 31-46. A tremendous opportunity to save lives and souls in creative and challenging ways.
Turns out I am one of three persons on their shortlist. They want me to fly out to The Windy City and have a face-to-face interview.
I am also one of three persons on the shortlist of a wonderful parish a couple hours north of here, and they are sending four people from their search committee down here on Sunday to see me preside and hear me preach and teach, as they discern whether they want me to be their rector.
Whew Part Deux.
In the meantime, The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a statement in reaction to what the Episcopal Church has done at its recent General Convention. He applauds our deep desire to remain as part of the Anglican Communion, then suggests that our actions at GC have deepened the rift with some parts of that Communion. He then seems to endorse or predict a two-level reorganization of the Communion, with Episcopalians in a sort of "separate but equal" category. He is trying to hold the Communion together, poor man, but this sort of document seems to endorse a split based on differing interpretations of Scripture vis-a-vis LGBT people and their ability to participate fully in the life of the church. This statement from the ABC simply does not seem helpful to the conversation, but I may be missing something here. He puts forth the case that a) marriage is not available to folks in same sex relationships because the church's historical understanding of what Scripture says about marriage excludes these relationships (never mind that at one point or another the church's historical understanding of what Scripture says about slavery, or about the ordination of women, has evolved...no such evolution seems welcome in this discussion); b) ordained persons in committed same sex relationships do not meet the standard of living a Godly life because they are not married (but wait...they want to be married...but we are not allowing them to live fully into who they are as God made them?); c) thus, they can't become bishops...
Augustine of Hippo talked about the problem of Scriptural interpretation,and St Thomas Aquinas reiterated the position some 800 years later, that reading Scripture without using our rational faculties to incorporate the scientific knowledge (Augustine would have called it looking at the Book of Nature) known at the current time is ignorance. And Anglicans have traditionally believed that it is at the intersection of Holy Writ, tradition, and reason that we find God.
The ABC's argument ends up being predicated on the now-discredited position (at least in the DSM-IV) that homosexuality is fundamentally disordered, and homosexual practice is a sinful expression of that disorder. You can't talk about being loving and nondiscriminatory toward LGBT folk in one breath and then, in the next, say that they can't be in a relationship blessed by their church because we haven't done it before, and then take the long leap toward the position that they can't be ordained as bishops because they are in sinful relationships (or at least unsanctified ones). Augustine is weeping in his grave. For that matter, my Logic 101 professor from college is spinning like a top.
And those of us who know a bit about family systems remember that when we sacrifice one member of the family for no more fighting in the rest of the family, when one person becomes the Judas goat, there is no real peace. Sacrificing the LGBT folks who are called to ordained ministry to keep the Anglican Communion together will end up helping neither.
And after all, as the hymn goes "the peace of God, it is no peace, but strife sown in the sod."
All of this rant about the statement reminds me of the two "whews" above. If I forget what I preached about on Sunday, about what Jesus is expecting of us, I'm not fulfilling the call.
Nobody ever said it would be easy.