Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Radical Welcome

As you may recall me telling you previously, the Episcopal Cathedral of San Diego has been a strong advocate for gay rights and BP has been there a couple of times (once with me). A friend of ours also started attending after their ecumenical post-prop8 service, and has really gotten into the community. She phoned us this weekend to ask if we were going, because there was a "newcomer's informational brunch" after the 10.30 service that she wanted to attend. BP was interested, so we went.

A couple of noticeable things. First of all, there were many more "newcomers" at the brunch than they had anticipated so there was a scramble for chairs and tables. Second, based on our chats and eavesdropping, quite a large number of these potential newcomers are, like BP, Roman Catholic, and several of them explicitly dismayed and injured by Prop8. The inclusiveness of TEC is a huge, huge draw. (The familiarity of the liturgy doesn't hurt.) And third, the Dean explained the simple message of the Cathedral thus:

Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here. Whether you are passing through, or this is the beginning of a longer relationship, welcome. You are today part of our family.

Simple but to the point. Not a dry eye in the house.

Our journey continues.


Update: welcome to visitors coming here from Fr Terry's site, and the HOBD list. If you click on the label "welcome" at the bottom of this post, you will find the other posts I've made about our visits to TEC churches recently.

36 comments:

Ann said...

Thanks IT for sharing your visit. This is the kind of growth that is good for TEC.

David said...

What Mtr. Ann said.

At our best, Episcopalians do this extremely well...

James said...

Wonderful report. IT, we're going to get you yet! :)

Anonymous said...

I think there is a realistic chance you will get BP, James.

You will "get" me only insofar as I want to support my wife on her journey.

IT

Ann said...

IT - we just want you in the community - don't have to sign up to any belief. We need people to hold us accountable to what we say in TEC.

Anonymous said...

Ah, kinda the way the Jews in Bethleham have to keep the peace between the Christians? ;-)
IT

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Yep---those are my peeps! ;-)

Pax,
Doxy

dr.primrose said...

"Ah, kinda the way the Jews in Bethleham have to keep the peace between the Christians? ;-)"

The same way the the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepuchre in Jerusalem are kept by Muslims ....

IT said...

yeah whatever... ;-)

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Open and hospitable aren´t conversion tricks...they are simply part of a ongoing belief. TEC is going to great length to insure that OUR WELCOME EVERYONE means EVERYONE and that we are NOT a PURITY CULT!

JCF said...

C'mon, IT: we kid, because we love. ;-)

[Seriously, you'd be hard-pressed to find a theistic Episcopalian, so moved to say "Not a dry eye in the house"!]

So, is BP leaning towards the Cathedral? Or would she/you prefer a church closer to your home? [Keep us posted!]

Anonymous said...

I think the reaction, JCF, is because people at that event were in many cases people who are hurting. Radical welcome is not something that they have experienced. You regulars can take it for granted. RC-refugees, not so much.

BP is still wrestling with what it means to "switch" and whether that is what she wants to do, so it is way too soon to decide where she might go if she does. I suspect she'll dabble between the Cathedral and the two parishes closer to home for a while.

IT

it's margaret said...

IT --the Dean at the cathedral is a very good guy. I hope you really enjoy getting to know the community there. (I moved from the Diocese of San Diego three years ago.) And--you bring blessings with you--you are a blessing in their midst.

IT said...

Thanks margaret. we thought the Dean is a really good guy but it's good to hear we're right! I'm not sure *I* bring anything to a church community (in fact I'm pretty confident I don't; an irreverent atheist who doesn't buy God, Christ, or the bread thing!) but my wife is a real catch. ;-)

IT

Anonymous said...

If we need our resident online atheist, why wouldn't the S.D. TEC benefit from a resident FTF atheist?

(FTF = face to face)

Nancyp

Cany said...

Oh Yeah, IT. I am so glad to hear this. She has a lot before her, given she is RC, so she needs time etc., I get that.

Glad she felt welcome, and you as well.

If everyone had the kind of support in their spiritual life that she has from you, wouldn't we all just be SO lucky:)

JCF said...

an irreverent atheist who doesn't buy God, Christ, or the bread thing!

You don't have to "buy" anything, IT: "Jesus paid it all" (heh-heh)

Has BP experienced the blessing that is a priest-who-is-a-woman yet? :-) [As I tell Popoids and the similarly-disadvantaged: if you haven't heard the Mass sung by a soprano, you haven't lived! :-D]

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, about half the presiders have been women. no problem with that. THough not everyone can sing....

IT

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I'm with Nancy P - as ususal.

;=)

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

"... not everyone can sing"?

Think of it as a creatio continua, we did at Lund Cathedral ;=)

David said...

JCF makes a good point. I have been truly blessed (not a throw-away "Christian" term I use lightly) by knowing several female priests. And couldn't imagine a church where they weren't welcome to be who they were called to be.

Now, bless their hearts, I'm still waiting for a female priest with a really good singing voice - not that the male priests in my parish are any better :}

James said...

IT, you'll be surprised to know your post was quoted on the House of Bisohps/Deputies list this morning. You may think you're not "one of us," but "honey chill'" you are! :) Congratulations.

PS you'll be interested to know the word varification for this post is "curses" LOL

IT said...

Oh curses, James, I may have blown my incognito!

We are also the subject of Fr Terry's latest post.

I'm not sure I should tell BP....!

Jake said...

Couldn't resist, IT. We need all the good news we can get right now!

Thanks for the smile that is on my face today.

RunSingTeach said...

I attended the cathedral for two years. It is an amazing place and I have yet to find another place like it (and I'm a cradle Episcopalian). I do hope you feel blessed there. Scott, Allisyn, and everyone there is amazing. Be blessed on your journey!

MarkBrunson said...

I get a bit uncomfortable when we talk about "getting" somebody. I realize I'm taking it too seriously, but I just don't like the way it sounds.
IT,
If you feel that merely bein . . . an irreverent atheist who doesn't buy God, Christ, or the bread thing! means you would be no addition to the church - or Church, for that matter - then it's only because you've been led to believe that community and its work begin and in in the milieu of the buildings and formal worship.
We don't . . . though we often forget it, as well.

Anonymous said...

Mark, you are sweet, but let's be honest: a church regardless is based not on buildings, but fundamentally on a belief in God and Christ, right? I frankly don't believe in either. I haven't got faith, even a vestige. Nope, not there.

It's not the formal worship that puts me off, which frankly I enjoy in a weird way (probably the music and my traditionalist anglophilic tendencies), but it's the underpinnings: if I think too much about it, I can't do it. God, Christ, communion? Can't go there--raised Catholic, know all about it, but I just can't do that any more. Yet I have spent many happy hours listening to choral Evensongs in high Anglican tradition in the UK. There's an aesthetic moment that maybe shares something with the religious one?

JCF and others are teasing me with the comfort of years of familiarity, and that's fine by me. I'm in this for my beloved. She has something I haven't (faith) and I want her to find the right place to BE her--all of her. For me, personally, I'm in it for the scenery, and the music, with the detached view of the outsider. as well as supporting her, I have an intellectual interest in understanding how obviously intelligent and thoughtful people like our readers can also believe in....invisible pink unicorns. ;-) And how we can find the common ground between us. I tend to think that regardless of faith or lack thereof, there are basic truths of behavior that unite us.

I sometimes think that because I am not emotionally invovled in religion, clinical if you will, that I can see the "rules" better than those hung up on it. Of course if there is an afterlife, I'll be the most surprised. But my worldview is that this....THIS life....is all we have so we'd better do it right. Just because. I'm a scholar. I want to get it right.

IT

James said...

Well, as for that possible afterlife, all I will say is that it will be such fun to share a truck load of chocolate with you over there.op

MarkBrunson said...

For me, personally, I'm in it for the scenery, and the music, with the detached view of the outsider. as well as supporting her, I have an intellectual interest in understanding how obviously intelligent and thoughtful people like our readers can also believe in....invisible pink unicorns.

Well, I wasn't arguing whether you believe in God or not - I could really care less about that. God believes in you, and that's all I care about. The rest is none of my business.

I don't believe in invisible pink unicorns, either. My understanding of God is probably diametrically opposed to that of Rick Warren, and many here. A personal "Jay-zus" makes no sense. If He loves everyone, He must be fairly impersonal, supremely detached. Yet, I can't deny I've touched something intelligent and beyond myself. I would probably be a Buddhist, but for the American Buddhists who insist you cannot believe in God and be Buddhist. I can't do otherwise.

My argument was that the church, as a social phenomenon, has more use for you than being a "believer."

JCF said...

This is beyond my paygrade to discuss (epistemology?) but I think it comes down to the concept of . . . no, not "God", but belief.

As a scientist, IT, you train your powers of cognition on things that you can "count, measure or weigh", right?

But what about things that---for purposes of human convention (aka "make life worth living"!)---we know are REAL, but we can't count, measure, or weigh? Like your love for BP, and her love for you? [Yup, JCF (that Right B*stard!) goes straight for the "heart" again. ;-)]

What mental faculties ARE they, that enables you to promise to "love, honor and cherish ... till death do us part", and to believe BP's promise to you?

[I really don't know---just askin']

I mean, sure: there are aspects to "love" (between members of Homo sapiens: same- or opposite-sex!) which could be tested: how many times, if BP leaves a dirty dish, will you wash it? (Without *financial* compensation? ;-) )

However . . . especially w/ same-sex couples (where there's no "selfish gene" passing on going on, vis-a-vis direct reproduction), most of love just defies the ability to hypothesize or test, wouldn't you say?

So how do we know it's there? That it's real? That we can&SHOULD build our whole lives around it?

How do we believe in love?

It seems to me that, in the ineffability of love, is the same ineffable sense of REALness, that the faith-full "know" in their relationship to the (to quote the 12 Steps---and +Gene Robinson!) "God of their understandings".

[OK, blather done now]

David said...

Thou shalt not mock the Invisible Pink Unicorn, lest She neglect to fart rainbows for you!

(I'm kidding. I'm a Universalist-Unicornist, you'll get your rainbows anyway ;)

IT said...

JCF wrote, It seems to me that, in the ineffability of love, is the same ineffable sense of REALness, that the faith-full "know" in their relationship to the (to quote the 12 Steps---and +Gene Robinson!) "God of their understandings".

Sure, JCF. I don't argue that believers really BELIEVE in God and have a sense of "real-ness". It's just that I don't share that particular ineffable "real-ness" of God-belief. Your arguments aren't going to be able to give me that real-ness that you have--it's ineffable, as you said. But why should they have to? If it works for you, if it's part of you, great, you have my, er, blessing. ;-)

BP makes the same argument-- that I have some types of faith (faith in her, for example) but not others. But what's wrong with that? (I might argue I'd be a pretty sorry human being if it were the other way around... ;-)

At some level, you can't have it both ways: you can't argue me into faith with logic, while also recognizing faith's defining ineffability. It's very inchoate nature make it different than reason: it's faith. As long as I am not denying YOUR faith (and I don't; I''m not that kind of atheist), what's the problem?

Look, one way you can look at it is as though I'm color-blind. You can't make me "see" a color the way you do, if I'm missing that ability. It's just not there. I don't have it. Sometimes I think actual "faith" would be a comfort--as you point out, it's the only thing that keeps me from being a real Episcopalian! :-D -- but I have to be completely honest with myself. It's simply not a color that I can see.

IT

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Dear Friend believes strongly in what he calls "the God gene," IT. He thinks it is necessary for people to "feel" God.

He agrees with you---some people just don't experience God. And from his POV, that's okay. If you can't, you can't---and, if there IS a God, She certainly isn't going to hold it against you. It's not as if you are CHOOSING not to believe--you simply don't experience what those of us who have "the gene" do.

All my atheist relatives and friends love Dear Friend... :-)

Cheers,
Doxy

IT said...

Doxy, *I* love Dear Friend.

After all, he loves you! Clearly a man of taste and discrimination...

IT

Wormwood's Doxy said...

:-)

He is a miracle on two legs.

David said...

Clearly a man of taste and discrimination...

True dat. (can y'all tell we're the "Doxy Fan Club" around here ? ;)