The game is up.
Mark Harris reports that the Archbishop of Uganda has resorted to a direct threat to the integrity of the Primates meeting and the integrity of our electing ++Katharine Jefferts Schori as our Presiding Bishop.
Apparently now, the demand is that another bishop, selected by "orthodox" dioceses in The Episcopal Church, be sent in her stead to sit at the February Primates' meeting, as the Archbishop of Uganda refuses to even sit with her at table, let alone speak with her -- a poisonous and arrogant slight. I can only imagine the scriptural passages that might be quoted to support such an outrage. Now we see the theology coming to full flower: the Bible used as a weapon to justify human division, misogyny, and plays for raw power. But however couched in pastoral language the Archbishop of Uganda's letter flows, between the lines I feel the disdain and scorn that is rooted, along with so many other schismatic actions right now, in anger and fear. None of these are Gospel virtues, it seems to me.
No matter what stand we take on human sexuality or women in Holy Orders, this is not the Way of Jesus.
As the request invites a brazen violation of jurisdictional boundaries by attempting to interfere in the polity of this province -- in effect, ecclesiastical violence to our General Convention as the Ugandan Archbishop attempts to usurp its authority -- and even more clearly dishonors primary, God-given human dignity, this is nothing less than a direct attack on the integrity of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church.
No doubt, we in The Episcopal Church will continue to be blamed for this crisis because we consecrated +Gene Robinson, or began ordaining women, or [you fill in the blank]. Or because we dared to commend "what we have seen and heard" in our part of the world: that perhaps long-standing bigotries in Christian tradition could continue to be questioned, and that deeper truth in Scripture and our relationship with God in Christ might be renewed and revealed through the Spirit -- even in our day.
Yes, we will be blamed. Acts of schism and all forms of ecclesiastical and spiritual violence against us will be justified as punishment or "consequences", and we will be blamed.
But there is a parallel to this kind of blaming. . .in abusive family relationships. Sometimes abusive relationships need to end, if healing is to begin.
The game is indeed up. The Anglican Communion as we have known it, a vestige of old empire, commonwealth, and colonial rule, is issuing a last gasp. The rattling of ecclesiastical swords by bishops at home and abroad is the death rattle.
What God will raise up when all is done is remains a mystery, but one I dare hope for.
My prayer is that we as a Christian community in The Episcopal Church, come what may, respond to Uganda and all those who have broken communion with us with the love and compassion in the truth that Christ has given us: that we take up our cross and find new and deeper ways to walk for those truly in need -- to renew our seeking the face of Jesus in all the earth's people. . .even those who most despise us.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The game is up.