Friday, March 19, 2004

House of Bishops Meeting

The House of Bishops will begin their meeting today in Camp Allen, Texas. They will conclude their time together on the 24th. No doubt that there will be discussions of the acts of ecclesiastical disobedience committed in Ohio last weekend. There will also most likely be some discussion of "Alternative Episcopal Oversight," although that discussion may now have to begin by defining what it is not, rather than what it is, which is unfortunate.

The recommendations of how the bishops might respond range from Louie Crew's suggestion that Bishop Grew back-date a graceful letter of welcome to all six bishops, to Bishop Robert M. Moody raising the possibility of "a censure of these bishops or a presentment that could lead to an ecclesiastical trial."

My own honest response is a bit convoluted. To sort it out, I'm going to use some archetypes of the masculine, drawn from a book I read years ago, whose title escapes me.

In light of some other current discussions, I will confess, as I have previously, to being a "recovering chauvinist." I inherited a set of "tapes" from my father pertaining to what it means to be a man. It was not until I started helping raise two daughters that I discovered that Dad got a few things wrong. My first reaction is sometimes to play those old tapes, but today I can sometimes catch myself, and choose to listen and make new recordings. Thus the label of "recovering chauvinist."

Masculine and feminine are terms that represent much more than gender differences. They are a form of shorthand for two divergent yet potentially complimentary perspectives. When I offer my personal perspective on various things, it is drawn primarily from the masculine side, as that is what I know best. This perspective is not offered as the only "right" one, nor is it offered with any apology. In the words of the seafaring philosopher Popeye, "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam." So, it is what it is...

Every boy dreams of being a hero. Hero worship is often a symptom of immaturity or delayed development when seen in an adult male. The healthy adult will have discovered methods to integrate four archetypes:

The Warrior - this part of me wants to tell the bishops to hit the Ohio 6 hard, and then hit them again. Use every option available to squash them like a bug. Not a pleasant aspect of myself, but an honest one. It is the perspective of many of the young terrorists today, btw. Oppressed boys grow up to be angry young men. This is one reason for the story about the tares and wheat. We do not pull up the weeds growing with the wheat. Why? Because a warrior will charge into the field, rip the evil weed from the ground, and hold it aloft with a shout of triumph, never noticing the wheat that has been trampled and broken in his wake. "The harvest is at the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels."

The Lover - this part of me is devastated by the breaking of trust and feelings of rejection. The grieving has started, as a parting seems inevitable. The temptation is to become angry, be in denial, or try to make a deal; anything to escape this dark sadness that crushes my heart. These feelings have to be honored, but I also have to realize that they may not be an appropriate reaction to the situation. Responding from my grief and my love for the Church tempts me to grasp reconciliation and peace at any cost.

The Magician - The light side of this archetype is inclined to agree with Louie Crew; be a transparent conduit of grace. The dark side is inclined towards a bit of manipulation; possibly a banishing ritual? I think I'll leave this one alone now. Sometimes less is better.

The King - This is supposed to be the place where all the aspects are integrated. The ideal is a benevolent monarchy. But benevolence, to be effective, flows from a position of power, or at least authority. Is the Episcopal Church in such a position? It depends on one's perspective. From the view within the USA, most definitely. The view from the perspective of the Anglican Communion is a bit more cloudy. The King will clarify his position as the authority, but will also not seek to unnecessarily make new enemies. The embodiment of this archetype at this meeting will be Bishop Griswold. Will he be up to the task? The tone of his last communication suggests he may be. But past performances cause me to not be so sure. His preferred archetype seems to be the Magician. Right now, we definitely need to see a manifestation of the King.

I am more than willing to listen to other perspectives on this, specifically some aspects I may have left out due to being a "recovering chauvinist."

But there is one more role that I carry with me, one that transcends all those above, as well as the masculine/feminine discussion. I am also a Priest. And the Priest does not hesitate to insist on a specific response to this situation;

Let us pray:

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in the House of Bishops for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


UPDATE: I found the book...King, Warrior, Magician, Lover; Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine, by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette.

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