Monday, June 02, 2008

Garret Keizer: Rowan and Gene Should Go Fishing

We've got quite a few "news" items that some of you probably want to discuss. I'm about a week behind, due to real life stuff (my oldest son is now married!) and the discussions on evangelism. I'll eventually get to some of them.

But first, I want to draw your attention to Garret Keizer's excellent article in Harpers; Turning Away From Jesus: Gay Rights and the War for the Episcopal Church (subscription only). A Harpers publisher had promised me an advance copy, but for some reason it never arrived. After reading a few excerpts on other sites, I finally broke down and went in search for a copy in our tiny town. I found plenty of zines about wrestlers, weddings and wealth, but no Harpers. So, I broke down and subscribed. It was worth the price for just this one article, and I'll get 11 more issues of what is one of the better publications available, if nothing else because of their famous "Index."

Garret Keiser is the author of A Dresser of Sycamore Trees, which is one of the most well written books about day-to-day ministry that I have ever read. Keiser was a high school English teacher who became the lay vicar of a small congregation in Vermont. Eventually he is ordained as a Canon 9 priest. I have made this amazing little book required reading for anyone who speaks to me about exploring a vocational call to holy orders. It contains beautiful prose coupled with insightful theology drawn from the ordinary events of life.

Consequently, I was quite anxious to finally get access to his latest article, which has already caused quite a buzz on the blogs. Keizer did not disappoint me. Keep in mind that he is a wordsmith; the article is quite long. But there's some nuggets of gold mixed in there, making it well worth digging through.

The Lead published two excerpts, here and here. Consider this rather revealing bit:
...For me it is the methods more than the motives [of realignment leaders] that invite scrutiny, and the similarity of these methods to those of corporate culture that has the most to say to readers outside the church. What is “provincial realignment” at bottom, if not the ecclesiastical version of a corporate merger? What is “alternative oversight” if not church talk for a hostile takeover? For that matter, how far is “hostile takeover” from the sort of church talk that makes frequent reference to the mission statement, the growth chart, and evangelism’s “market share”? Martyn Minns, Peter Akinola’s irregularly consecrated missionary bishop to the breakaway churches of the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America, told me that he had learned more during his years at Mobil Oil Corporation than he’d ever learned in the seminary. I suspect that is a much less exceptional statement than either Bishop Minns or the rest of us would care to admit...
Alive on All Channels offers us a number of quotes from the article. Here's one of them:
...Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for example, has compared homophobia to apartheid. Still, his stand is hardly typical of his continent, and it took no great leap of imagination for those losing the ideological war in the United States to wonder if they might fare better by forging alliances in warmer climes. Some will find the idea of American conservatives using foreign bishops to support the interests of a white male hegemony in the Episcopal Church altogether preposterous, though it is perhaps no more preposterous-or less effective-than using the votes and tax dollars of working-class Americans to further the interests of the corporations that take away their jobs. It's the old drill of building a network, capitalizing on the most divisive issues, and locating the funds...
Jeff Sharlet of The Revealer offers commentary on Keizer's piece for Beliefnet's site, Casting Stones under the provocative title We're All Gay Episcopalians Now. Here's part of the excerpt that Sharlet focuses on:
...Still the question remains: How does a Christian population implicated in militarism, usury, sweatshop labor, and environmental rape find a way to sleep at night? Apparently, by making a very big deal out of not sleeping with Gene Robinson. Or, on the flip side, by making approval of Gene Robinson the litmus test of progressive integrity, a stance that I have good reason to believe would impress no one so little as Gene Robinson himself. Says he:

"I don't believe there is any topic addressed more often and more deeply in Scripture than our treatment of the poor, the distribution of wealth, of resources, and the danger of wealth to our souls. One third of all the parables and one sixth of all the words Jesus is recorded to have uttered have to do with this topic, and yet we don't hear the biblical literalists making arguments about that."

If this is sodomy, sign me up...
Here's an image from Keizer's piece that I found intriguing:
...I am among those disappointed with Rowan Williams for not inviting Gene Robinson to Lambeth, especially after speaking so often and so well about the rights of gay and lesbian people. But, after visiting with certain persons in England, including Colin Coward, the director and founder of the Anglican gay and lesbian advocacy group Changing Attitude, I feel I understand a little better what's at stake "if Rowan loses the Communion," which would mean losing any leverage for protecting the rights of sexual minorities in countries whose leadership both ecclesiastical and political is, as one American observer put it, "viciously, lethally homophobic." Who am I to say what the Archbishop of Canterbury ought to do? I can only say what I wish he'd do, which is slip out of Lambeth Palace well before the dogs are up and go fishing with Gene, a typically dotty Anglican solution to a "global crisis," I admit, but one not without precedent in the earliest strata of the tradition...
There's much more, including some background on Abp. Orombi of Uganda, chilling words from Davis Mac-Iyalla and a couple of good quotes from our friend Jim Naughton.

This one is a must read. Go find a copy.


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