Monday, February 17, 2014


From Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's address to General Synod:
We all know that perfect love casts out fear. We know it although we don’t often apply it. We mostly know that perfect fear casts out love. In any institution or organisation, the moment that suspicion reigns and the assumption that everything is zero sum becomes dominant (that is to say that some else’s gain must be my loss, we can’t both flourish) that institution will be increasingly dominated by fear. It is an old problem in game theory. The moment at which something is zero sum, players stop looking so much at their objectives and increasingly look at each other. The more they look at each other, the more they are dominated by fear and the less they are able to focus on their objectives.

The Church of England is not a closed system, nor is the Anglican Communion and most certainly nor is the Church catholic and universal. It is not a closed system because God is involved and where he is involved there is no limit to what can happen, and no limit to human flourishing. His abundant love overwhelms us when we make space to flood into our own lives, into institutions and systems.
From the Church of England House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage:
20. The 2005 pastoral statement said that it would not be right to produce an authorized public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships and that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who registered civil partnerships. The House did not wish, however,  to interfere with the clergy's pastoral discretion about when more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances.   The College made clear on 27 January that, just as the Church of England's doctrine of marriage remains the same, so its pastoral and liturgical practice also remains unchanged.

21. The same approach as commended in the 2005 statement should therefore apply to couples who enter same-sex marriage, on the assumption that any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church's teaching and their reasons for departing from it. Services of blessing should not be provided. Clergy should respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways.
The letter from the House of Bishops is the kind of doublespeak that is soul-destroying to LGBT church members and to those who support their full inclusion in the life of the church. As a fellow Anglican, I read the letter with shock and dismay.  I can only imagine the scope of the fear within the House of Bishops that would lead them to approve sending out such a letter. 

Not only will same sex marriages services be banned in the Church of England, but clergy will not be allowed to "provide services of blessing" to same sex couples who marry but will rather be restricted to "an informal kind of prayer", preceded by a pastoral discussion about why they must follow the church's teaching and settle for something less.  Like Tina Turner, I ask, "What's love got to do with it?"  How will the rules allow for flourishing of LGBT persons in the church?

But, as Archbishop Welby says in his address, "... because God is involved and where he is involved there is no limit to what can happen...", who knows but that when the prayers are said, God will do as God chooses and - Gasp! - provide a blessing, despite the ban by the church.  The phrase itself, "an informal kind of prayer", is a shriveled manner of speaking about invoking the God of abundant and overflowing love. It seems to me idolatrous to attempt to limit the blessings of God for those the House of Bishops deems not quite worthy to receive the full blessing.
Episcopal priest, Tobias Haller, wonders why the English bishops did not include a reference to Article XXXII of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England, rather than The Lambeth Conference of 1998.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God's Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
In 2005, The Guardian published an article titled "Stop the Denial"  by Richard Haggis, a priest serving in a London parish:
Many of us long for the sort of union that could be marked by a public ceremony and decent and proper civil rights (from which the bishops have sought to exempt us for too long through their powerful position in the House of Lords). I very much hope to use the new law. I shall not ask permission and I shall not promise to be celibate. If they want to sack me they can, but they must own up to the kind of people they are.

To grow up as a church we need to stop pretending and stop lying. There are hundreds of gay priests, archdeacons and bishops. This is a fact. Those who can't accept it need to leave. Those gay clergy do far more for the Good News of God than the ranting nutters who would reject them. But we need help and support. We need to be looked after. And that has not been happening for a very long time. Until we learn to do so, we have no right to be taken seriously by thoughtful people.
And sacked he was, and Richard has not served as a priest in the church in the eight years since he wrote the article.  What has changed since 2005?  Same sex marriage will be legal in England, but the church will not ordain persons in same sex marriages, and clergy in same sex relationships are forbidden, in bold text, to contract a civil marriage. 
27.  The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers that it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church's teaching in their lives.
How long will the blatant hypocrisy continue? Whom do the bishop's believe they are fooling?


  1. Well said, Mimi! And I say that not just because I agree, but because it is said so well.

    1. Thanks, Tobias. I always feel so much better when I receive your imprimatur. ;-)

  2. The house is so scared of schism, they will create one. These bishops with allegedly good educations, never learned the lesson Macmillan taught: Bullies are never satisfied.

    So, sooner rather than later, the ultra-conservatives will renew their demand for a separate province, using the same threats they used to get this lunacy. And as they fruitlessly scramble for an answer, they will find no Churchill, because they have purged the church of the people who might otherwise save it.

    Sad, very sad.


    1. Jim, I read the commentary on one conservative blog, and the writer was not at all happy with either Justin's address or with the pastoral letter. The "pastoral" letter pleases no one. Why not come down on the side of justice and equality, take the flack, and get it over with?

  3. I second the motion of Tobias above: you said it all very well, Mimi.

    This brings up so many responses in my mind, I may have to blog about this on my own site. It's all such a socking great con game, you know? It's all about the straight boys, and what they want and don't want, like or don't like. It's all about control of all the rest of the world by and for the straight men - something you as a woman ought to understand very well. They long ago created a God in their own image, and woe betide anyone who says it is merely an idol.

    This Episcopalian-on-hold is verging ever nearer to being an ex-Episcopalian. If I am, as the bishops so smoothly assert, a child of God, free and equal to all other members of the Body of Christ, then why in God's name should I stand like Oliver Twist with empty bowl in hand, begging "Please, sir . . . I want more." --?

    As my truckbuddy Frank said the other day, the time for arguing and debating and endless blather about whether the gays are in fact human beings or merely a species of talking animal, that time is OVER. No more. Enough already!

    The reverend bishops are not pushing for more "dialogue" because they really need more information - it's merely one more delaying tactic to keep the power of policing other people's lives and consciences from slipping out of their grasp.

    I say, screw 'em all. And you may quote me on that.

    1. Russ, indeed, the time for debate is long past. In all fairness, the Episcopal Church is not the Church of England. The bishop in my diocese, in a conservative part of the country, has given permission for clergy to conduct same sex blessings in church.

  4. You are quite right, remarkable progress has occurred in the Episcopal Church lately, and my remarks were a bit intemperate. I'm just fed up with people using God as an excuse for irrational prejudice. I can never forget, when my late husband was not yet cold in his grave, the Pope bestirred himself to proclaim that same-sex marriage is a "locus of evil" in the world. In other words, two men and a little fuzzy dog living a quiet, productive life as contributing citizens in a tiny town far out on the prairie were worthy of nothing but contempt. And I sure felt it. Still do.

    But much as we of the Anglican persuasion like the via media approach, the line is now clearly drawn: one is either on the side of life, love, and human dignity, or on the side of the murderous thugs in Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and elsewhere. All of whom are spurred and goaded on by the oh-so-righteous clergy in those parts.

    There's nothing left to debate or discuss on this subject.

    1. The good, the bad, and the ugly have already been said over and over, and it's way past time for the leaders in the church to do what's right and just by offering marriage and blessings to couples who wish to commit their lives to one another in love and fidelity.


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