" A Mind Of Jello "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
I was talking with a good friend of mine who is Episcopalian. He was expressing his disappointment regarding the recent meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Church that met in Canterbury, England January 11-15 2016. The result of this meeting, of course, was to suspend the Episcopal Church in America from voting status in matters of the Anglican communion for a period of three years. Archbishop Fred Hiltz of Canada wrote
" I know The Episcopal Church to be very committed to the work and witness of the Communion as a whole, and I recognize the frustration they will feel in not serving in a representative way on our Ecumenical Dialogues for example. I recognize that if The Episcopal Church is not allowed to vote on a matter of doctrine or polity that the life of the Communion is diminished. I am grateful however, that they will still have a voice in the discussions of such matters."
A Reflection on the Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury, England, January 11-15, 2016 ...the Anglican Church of Canada - 1 day ago
The reason for the conflict in the Anglican communion has been due to the position of the Episcopal Church on matters regarding human sexuality especially LGBTQ people, same-sex-marriage and ordination and ministry. Somehow, you would hope that the world- wide communion of a major denomination would focus upon matters such as hunger, homelessness, global warming, income inequality, economic justice, etc. In all fairness, the recent Primates meeting did commit itself to advocate policy that will address climate change. Archbishop Hiltz stated:
" As we have been often reminded, climate change is really about climate justice. It's about our commitment to the fifth Mark of Mission - to safeguard the integrity of creation. "
I applaud the actions of the Primates in addressing climate change, religious violence, etc. This has great potential to provide bridges of cooperation and support with other religious communities addressing these important concerns.
However, the action of banning and disenfranchising a whole denomination from representational vote in a world-wide Christian community seems to be beyond the pale. How does this promote Christian unity; rather it invites schism and a split of communions. As the Dowager Countess would observe
" When I hear you talk that way, I am tempted to send you to Nanny without your supper. "
It's not helpful for religious leaders to treat some of the greater communion as if they need to go to the principal's office. The behavior becomes rather patronizing and unbecoming.
Humans have the capability of doing great things. Our brains can experience neuroplasticity, a jello that is constantly being remolded. We have the capacity to express great love, charity and compassion for others. The action of the Primate conference doesn't communicate this reality.
A female church secretary once observed to me:
" Some people have brains like cement mixers, all mixed up and set in concrete. "
May we do better. People of faith can find ways to present a united witness to the presence of God in the world, however known.
We need more unity now, less disunity and discord.
We need more jello, less concrete.
May it be so.