Sunday, July 12, 2009

Live From Anaheim IV.5

Addendum to post earlier today:

I forgot to mention a high point of the Eucharist today was Elisabeth von Trapp singing Peace Perfect Peace during Communion. A low point is that two bishops and one lay person were taken from the congregation to the hospital. All are doing fine.

I have gotten some questions over recent weeks about the Theology Committee's study on same sex relationships. I have not known much about it so I have not been able to provide much information. I know a little more now.

The study of same sex relationships from a theological perspective was initiated by the House of Bishops in March, 2008. Surprising it took us this long to begin sorting out the underlying doctrinal issues. This study in our church is running parallel to similar studies being done in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This is the international study and conversation we did not have prior to 2003.

One popular misconception is that there is no GLBT representation on the Committee. There are actually two homosexual theologians on the committee, both partnered, and in fact married to their partners. One, I am told, has written extensivly on the issues before the committee. The other I know well and respect deeply. She is a noted feminist Biblical scholar and has fought aggressively for GLBT inclusion.

While gathering the different views expressed in the Church is an initial part of their process, the Committee is working toward resolution. Of course, in the Anglican tradtion, our resolutions tend to remain rather open-ended as revelation and discernment never end. But the Committee does aspire to some statement, not just a compendium of opinions.

The Committee is a bit behind schedule, but there has never been a plan or expectation for a final report this soon. The fact that their work is unfinished does not mean nothing can be done about liturgy until the theology is fixed. But some theological clarification would be helpful in the view of some. It is a signficant factor, but not a decisive factor standing alone.


Rick+ said...

The fact that this is an international effort has not been publicized widely to my knowledge. It's also good to know there is GLBT participation. Having a coherent theology that can aid understanding and open hearts feels a lot better than the sense that one is once again being "studied"... sort of like a bug.
The vote in the House of Deputies today was encouraging.

Bishop Dan said...

It was news to me too, but then I don't always follow developments outside our diocese very closely. When we ordained women, there was intenational objection, but there had been international conversation for a decade in advance. The absence of the interntional conversation has been a vastly bigger part of this international problem than most Americans realize. They don't accuse us of moral laxity, but of arrogant unilateralism. We are behind the curve on that, but catching up since the publication of To Set Our Hope On Christ, the ACC meeeting where we could not vote but explained ourselves, Lambeth, and the most recent Primates' meeting -- the one before that was not so much a meeting as a mugging. But things are progressing. I am eager to see the Deputies' resolution on ordination. I am hoping for something positive I can vote for. This may be it.

Rick+ said...

Gee... imagine Americans looking arrogant; well, that's never happened in any sphere before. It's interesting to hear you say that this is the crux, and I suspect you're right. I wonder, however, if the kind of dialog we had ten years previous to the ordination of women could have even been entertained by some when the subject changed to gays.

I wonder why they didn't make the composition, if not the names, more public so as to dodge the natural criticism of treating gays like something to be perpetually studied. It sure feels better with this new knowledge. I am encouraged.

Thank you for your thoughtful Spirit-filled work this week. You and all there remain in my prayers.

Paul (A.) said...

There is plenty of theology around on this; it just seems that a lot of clergy haven't bothered to read it.

Maybe this new committee (it may no longer have its membership be secret once the anti-secrecy resolution (D045) becomes effective) may manage to promulgate some of the existing good work in this field, and the rest of the clergy will no longer have an excuse for ignorance.

Bishop Dan said...

Rick is right that there was not the possibility of the advance conversation in this case. In my mind (from my American perspective) it isn't a matter of blaming for the past but of rectifying the deficit now.

A word about American arrogance though, as we were approaching Convention, I was being lobbbied on this by advocates for inclusion, people with whom I am in fundamental agreement. But they did argue for disregarding the perspective of other Anglicans because of "the ignorance of their cultures." We had a good dialogue on that language and they repented of it. But it is a reminder, we need to be careful on that count.

As for clergy reading theology on the issue, some clergy are pretty well-read. Other clergy don't read enough theology on this or any other issue. Our education and cultural norms have clergy reading more psychology and business managment stuff than theology these days.

But even if a lot has been written by various authors, that isn't the same thing as a theological perspective that has been in some authoritative way embraced by the Church. I dont' expect the theology committee to solve this for us. But they may make a helpful contribution. I hope so anyway.