Jefferts-Schori: How not to listen to anyone at all

…which is, frankly, quite appalling for someone who keeps going on about “listening”.

From here, Schori’s “Word to the Church”. Here’s the bits that really grabbed my attention.

The current controversy brings a desire for justice on the one hand into apparent conflict with a desire for fidelity to a strict understanding of the biblical tradition and to the mainstream of the ethical tradition. Either party may be understood to be the meat-eaters, and each is reminded that their single-minded desire may be an idol. Either party might constructively also be understood by the other as the weaker member, whose sensibilities need to be considered and respected.

The reference to meat-eaters is key here. Schori has just brought up 1Cor. 8, where Paul is concerned about those who eat food that has been offered up to idols in the pagan temples. What is clear from 1Cor. 8 is that this is a one-way thing. To put it another way, there are those who are meat-eaters and there are those that are not. How should those who don’t eat the pagan offerings treat those who do? It’s not a completely balanced issue, both parties are not the same. But Schori wants to argue that they are. The mainstream majority position is marginalised by the use of the term “strict” (i.e. blinkered). She uses the term “mainstream” but wants to suggest that it’s a “narrow” view. Note that no such qualifier is used for the liberal position; it is simply “a desire for justice”.

Also, we’re all just making a mountain out of a molehill. The conflict is only “apparent”. If we call all just understand Schori’s position then we’d see how divisive our “strict” stand is and the “apparent” conflict would disappear.

This attempt to level out the two positions, indeed to subtely undermine the mainstream position, is almost dishonest since it doesn’t even remotely represent either the current situation in the Communion or the scriptural witness. We’re all aware what the mainstream position actually is; it was laid out in specific detail in Lambeth 1998 resolution 1.10.

From misrepresenting the current position, she then moves to misrepresent the Communiqué.

Justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy always go together in our biblical tradition. None is complete without the others. While those who seek full inclusion for gay and lesbian Christians, and the equal valuing of their gifts for ministry, do so out of an undeniable passion for justice, others seek a fidelity to the tradition that cannot understand or countenance the violation of what that tradition says about sexual ethics. Each is being asked to forbear for a season. The word of hope is that in God all things are possible, and that fasting is not a permanent condition of a Christian people, nor a normative one. God’s dream is of all people gathered at a feast, and we enter Lent looking toward that Easter feast and the new life that will, in God’s good time, be proclaimed.

Ask yourself this question: are TEC being asked in the Communiqué to put a ban on things “for a season” or permanently? It is, surely, the latter! The exact requirements were “unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the communion – see Windsor para 134”. This is obviously not the “season” that Schori is talking of because does anyone really think the mind of the Communion is going to change on this issue in even the medium-term? Schori, rather, is trying to put TEC into a holding-pattern.

Now, I assume that she’s not stupid. This is a clever ploy. She is working hard to understate the strength of the requirements placed upon TEC. She needs to placate people like Integrity who are abundantly clear on how stiff the demands of the Communiqué are.

The Rev. Michael Hopkins, immediate past President of Integrity had this reaction:

“Jesus weeps, and so do I. If the House of Bishops (or any other body with actual authority in this church) capitulates to these demands and sacrifices gay and lesbian people to the idol of the Instruments of Unity, it will have become the purveyor of an “anti-Gospel” that will (and should) repel many.”

For Integrity, this isn’t just a matter of eating meat – it’s about how you understand the Gospel. It’s a refreshing clarity on what is going on. The tragedy of how Schori is handling all this is that by trying to tread a middle ground she is demonstrating that she’s not really listening to any of the key voices. Perhaps one of the issues that we need to watch out for is how long these people will think they need to keep listening to her?

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  1. lhynard

    just letting you know that you have some major HTML issues on this entry

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