31 July 2009

Don't Found a Church That Will Be Headed By Committee

Or do, perhaps. It seems still to be working for the Presbyterians.

I'm not sure if anyone who reads this has been paying attention to the state of the Anglican Church since the Episcopal Church in the US had General Convention recently but it is a sorry state of affairs. You can read about it here, our Presiding Bishop's letter is here, Rowan Williams' response is here and reflections from the Anglican communion institute are here.

Now, I have infinitely more patience with the Church trying to figure out what to do with non-heterosexual people than I do with the government (Barack Obama, what is the matter with you?) but I do not have much patience for wrongheaded arguments from anyone. My problem with the arguments coming out of Canterbury is that they frame the debate about opening ordination to non-celibate queer people and giving blessing on same-sex partnerships in terms of sex. It is not about sex, it is about love. Secondly, these arguments tend to implicitly assume that queer people exist outside of the community and are somehow intruding on the Church. This is not the case. Every single queer person on earth has parents, often siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, friends - they are not a discrete group of individuals but rooted deeply into society. To deny the full humanity of queer people affects not only any individual queer person, nor even merely those who fall into that category but also anyone who is a parent, child, relative or friend of someone who is queer.

Thirdly, to close up ranks by brandishing church tradition in the faces of those who want change and making threats of schism and rival communions is not Christian behavior. Nor, indeed, is doing so philosophically consistent with the origins of the Anglican church. To me, the great miracle of the Anglican church is that from its very beginning it managed to unite anti-monarchical Puritans with those who might have preferred to remain Catholic through having a single Book of Common Prayer. There is no clear reason, it seems to me, to think that it cannot hold us in communion now.

Blegh, such a frustrating mess. And all it will lead to is another report and then a conference and then an advisory and so on into darkness. It never will be resolved if the argument cannot be framed in proper terms because, until then, we will all be talking at cross purposes and waffling all the while. Nothing was ever solved by informal fallacies!

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