Thursday, October 04, 2007

My letter to the Bishop...

For the record, I am sick unto death of the Current Unpleasantness in the Anglican Communion. If it weren't for the knowledge that people like Davis Mac-Iyalla need us to continue to fight for the rights of GLBTs in the rest of the world, I'd say "Screw 'em!" and be done with the whole mess.

But I love Davis--and Louie Crew and Susan Russell and Elizabeth Kaeton and Josh Indiana and all those folks who continue to give their lives to preach the Good News to everyone, so I can't quit church and decide that I just don't give a damn anymore.

So I wrote my bishop, Michael Curry, who is usually on the side of the angels on the issue of full inclusion. We do not have an "authorized" rite for SSBs, but I know for a fact that they have been conducted in this diocese. It thus pained me greatly to see that he had not only signed the statement, but had issued what I considered to be a Pollyanna-ish assessment of it on the diocesan website.

I wrote most of this note a week ago, and decided to sit on it. I've learned that my first reaction---although usually guaranteed to elicit some fabulous purple prose---is not always what I really need to say.

But even after sitting on it for that long, I found that I felt just as strongly--if not more so--than I did last week. (I did have to add the line about the dogs and cats...)


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Dear Bishop Curry:

I read your comment on the statement by the House of Bishops at the diocesan website, and this stuck out for me:

In finding common ground, we were able to discover the high ground.

I wish I knew where, or what, that “high ground” is. Your upbeat assessment of the work of the House of Bishops in New Orleans bears little to no resemblance to the reaction I see “on the ground” here.

The pain that the HOB statement has inflicted on gays, lesbians, and those of us who love and value their contributions to the church, is devastating. If you don’t believe me, just ask someone---or check out the progressive Episcopalian voice in the blogosphere.

It was bad enough that the statement privileges institutional “unity” over the lives and souls of the people who serve God in our churches. The worst of it, however, is that it seems to contain a glaring untruth---the HOB statement declares that GLBTs are full members of the Episcopal Church.

But we all know that isn’t true now. How can you be a full member of the church when you are denied its blessings on your faithful, committed relationship? How can you be a full member of the church when your call to the priesthood (or the episcopate) is negated purely because of whom you happen to love?

And how, if you are a GLBT in the Episcopal Church, do you deal with the fact that your bishops call on the secular society to grant you the rights they refuse you in your community of faith?!

While I appreciate that the HOB could not act unilaterally to overturn a decision of General Convention, why not just say that? And why go even further than GC did and declare that B033 applies only to noncelibate gays and lesbians? Why single them out? As you must surely have known even before their predictable condemnations of the HOB statement, NOTHING you did in New Orleans was going to be enough to satisfy Archbishop Akinola and his Calvinist friends. I wish I could understand why you thought it was worth it to sacrifice people like Louie Crew and Susan Russell---people who have dedicated their whole lives to living the love of Christ in the world---to them.

A number of my gay and lesbian friends say they have grown tired of the struggle, and have decided to give up on the Episcopal church. They are weary of taking the fall for the fault lines in the church. Weary of giving and giving---and then being told that they are expendable when a choice has to be made. Weary of being asked to stand “in a crucified place,” (and what a vicious and horrible metaphor that is!!!) until people get over their homophobia. Weary of being forced to carry a cross not of their own choosing—a cross laid upon them by the likes of you and me, who offer no sacrifice in return.

I can’t blame them. There are days I wonder why *I* bother with this church, which wants it both ways---wants the reputation of being inclusive (not to mention the talents and treasure that GLBTs bring to the table), but is not willing to sacrifice anything for “the least of these,” our brothers and sisters in Christ.

What do we have to offer them, Bishop Curry? Except platitudes and more of the same? Where is the Good News for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the statement that you and your fellow bishops are so proud of? Is there any sacrifice that this church is willing to make for them? And why should they stay with us, when we consistently ignore Jesus’ injunction to love them as we love ourselves?

Now the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council has issued a report saying that they understand your statement to mean that you will not allow any kind of blessing on same-sex unions. Is that what you intended? And what will you say to my GLBT friends this weekend, when they want to know why you can bless their dogs and cats, but not their lifelong, committed relationships?

As always, I will continue to pray for you and for the church. But I cannot agree that “This is a significant accomplishment, a positive step, and a hopeful sign.” There is weeping in Jerusalem for those who have the ears, and the heart, to hear it.

Sincerely,
Doxy

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To borrow a line from my friend Father Jake, "Pray for Bishop Curry. Pray for the church."