Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The C of E continues to stumble around the wood

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby writes,
Building real community means leaving space to accept all who come through the door and giving them the sense that the place to which they have come, the gap at the table, was there waiting especially for them. They may have disabilities (like many of us), or appear very on top of life. Either way the reality is of a community that is not there for its own sake but to bring those who find a place at its table to find a place at Gods’ table, where immeasurable love opens the way to extraordinary healing.
Very nice.  But coming on the heels of his speech in the House of Lords against the equal marriage bill,   it rings a bit hollow to the LGBT community, who apparently are still not really welcomed to that community.

Yesterday, the House of Lords continued debate on amendments to the bill.  Via twitter, I followed the debate via #equalmarriage, a hashtag heavily used by the equality supporters in the UK and Australia.

It was the Archbishop of York who took up the mantle of disapproval in yesterday's reading. Move along, nothing new to see here... but today, Andrew Brown shows some exasperation in the Guardian 
The archbishop, John Sentamu, asked: "What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian? Would you rather bless a sheep and a tree, and not them? However, that is a big question, to which we are going to come. I am afraid that now is not the moment."
No. It isn't. That moment passed years ago, when civil partnerships were first brought in, and the archbishop's was one of the loudest voices demanding that the Church of England have nothing to do with them. The bishops still don't realise what damage they did then.... 
.... they failed to listen to the weak because they thought the noisy bullies mattered more.

When civil partnerships came in, the two archbishops fought hard, along with the rest of the Church of England, to ensure that they had no religious or spiritual content at all. This was a monumentally stupid position for an established church to take, and the nation duly went ahead and injected its own spiritual contents, leaving the church looking like a whitewashed tomb.
Truly, it is quite amusing to see the CofE point at Civil Unions as a Very Good Thing when they vigorously opposed them.

Brown goes on to point out that the donnish types of the Established Church "got it" for years, and were tolerant.  But:
When the great evangelical backlash against gay people came in the 90s – culminating in 1998, when opposition to gay rights became one of the tests of orthodoxy within the Anglican communion and the main cause of its subsequent schism – the dons were all swept away.....
Retreating from the actual condition of the Church of England full of gay and tolerant people into a fantasy of an Anglican communion that had neither but would be "a global significant player" as George Carey once told the United Nations, the evangelical party made a church which could neither lead the nation morally nor even move with it and made instead a virtue of being out of touch. Looking at their church now, I remember Kipling's brutal epigram on a soldier shot for cowardice: "I could not face my death. This being known, / men led me to him, blindfold and alone."


JCF said...

I thought I'd lost the ability to be shocked by Rowan Williams ex-Cantuar, but when I read him saying (para.) "I don't understand what problem same-sex marriage solves", I was gobsmacked.

Rowan, don't go away angry---Just Go Away!

JCF said...

Point of personal privilege: I met Doug "Counterlight" Blanchard today! And he was just as *nice* as you can imagine. All kinds of Texas charm. (Want to salute our Berkeley host, Susan S, too).

It was great to see "Berzerkeley" again, for me, and to share some of my favorite places w/ Doug (and, in the case of my grandmother's old house, w/ Susan too). We rambled around the UC Campus, and visited Susan's parish St Mark's (where my parents both met and married ;-p). Much fun was had by all!

IT said...

As a Berkeley native and Cal Grad, I am so glad you all had such a great time!

We're from the North Side of campus, so when we visit my mom we go to All Soul's.

JCF said...

We actually drove past All Souls, when we visited my grandmother's old house, on the North Side (2660 Buena Vista: bet you know where that is, IT!)

Doug will probably post some Berkeley pics (in addition to SF ones) when he returns home to blog again...