Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Clarification of Terms

The comments at Jake's place have greatly increased lately. They've ranged from an expansion of the topic introduced by the post to alerts regarding other news items. Some have been prolonged conversations. As I've stated previously, I have no problem with tangential comments, as I think that's how conversations in 3D tend to unfold.

However, one of the drawbacks of long comment threads is that sometimes a particularly helpful statement can get lost. For instance, in response to a recent post, Bill Carroll made this comment:

...I think that there is hope for communion with anyone who is not hellbent on schism.

In a typology that is surely inadequate to describe the real complexities, I distinguish between

(1) those who are temperamentally conservative and do not yet see the reasons for these changes;

(2) those who have what they take to be doctrinal/biblical reservations;

(3) those who are obsessed with "gay sex" (almost always gay male sex) and their revulsion about the details that the Presiding Bishop asked us to be spared; and

(4) ideological conservatives who see this as a good wedge issue.

In some cases a person may be acting out of some combination of (1)-(4).

I have the least sympathy for (4). (3) requires therapy, in my view, but I have sympathy for people who suffer from it, because they seem to be in genuine psychic distress. I myself don't think about what my lgbtq friends do in the bedroom, anymore than I do about my "straight" friends. I don't have much hope of remaining in communion with most of the folks who are acting from (3) or (4), at least in the short run.

(1) and (2) include a lot of other people that I know and care a great deal about, with whom I hope to remain in communion. It's much easier to deal with people that we know and can put a face on, isn't it? I am required by my baptismal and ordination vows to love and to care for people who are acting from (1), (2), (3), (4), anything my typology leaves out, or any combination thereof. I am also required, as far as I can see, to oppose with all my might any attempt to closet or marginalize--not to mention beat or imprison or kill-- any human being...
I found this typology very helpful, as it is true to my experience. It is one I will be attempting to keep in mind, in an effort to avoid making the kind of generalized statements I've been inclined to make in the past (ALL conservatives are homphobic bigots, etc.), as they are not any more true than the same kind of generalized condemnations that I hear being tossed in my direction (ALL progressives are apostate heretics, etc.)

It would be interesting to develop a similar typology regarding progressives. There are certainly variations among us.


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