“Blinded by projected fear and assumption of their own righteousness, and certain that their personal beliefs are true, secular and religious fanatics on all sides insist that global cooperation is impossible, but I think it worth a try.”
“What enormous suffering and destruction we have wrought by mistaking our descriptions for what they describe and by becoming slaves to the dogma we ourselves have created. Instead of seeking common ground, we often demand compliance and condemn apparent indifference.”
Am I a fanatic, I asked myself? I am sure some of the conservatives present in Jamaica think so, much as I think they are. I‘m passionate - for the continuing transformation of the Church into a Kingdom community.
“ACC’s close vote delays debate on Covenant” is the headline to today’s report on ACC14 by Pat Ashworth in the Church Times, accurate, although she wasn’t there. “Chaos as ACC battle on Covenant plan” the inaccurate headline to George Conger’s report in the CEN, who was there (arrived Friday, left Saturday).
“Williams: Feel others’ pain”, Church Times headline; “Archbishop hails ‘glorious failure” CEN headline to George Conger’s second report. George had returned to the USA on Saturday – Archbishop Rowan’s final address was given the following Tuesday. The Archbishop did not say the ACC meeting had been a glorious failure. He quoted Maria Boulding who says the alternatives for Christians were not success or failure, but glorious failure and miserable failure.
Andrew Carey, noted for his consistent negativity to Archbishop Rowan, says he “read widespread reports of confusion and mismanagement.” He didn’t read my blog, did he, but only the reports by conservatives, those who spin everything negatively.
Changing Attitude works for full inclusion and truth. My understanding of the truth is filtered through my experience and that is true for every human being. Blindingly obvious, of course, but conservatives think their truth is more truthful than mine. I always try to be honest and truthful in my reporting – and partisan, because CA advocates for the full inclusion of LGBT people.
Changing Attitude advocates for a fully inclusive church, LGBT people, women, children, those living with disabilities, all who in one way or another the church marginalises, excludes or holds a prejudice against.
Dualism, the compulsion to polarise, which is endemic to conservatives, is a curse, as, at times, is the parable of the sheep and the goats. Not satisfied with dividing the world into believers and non-believers Conservatives further divide the world into true and false believers and true and false Christians. The divisions they are trying to create in the Communion are founded on this false and pernicious duality.
I didn’t have many conversations in Jamaica with those holding radically different views from myself, much to my regret. I had a few, and they tailed off as the days passed. But the members of ACC did have conversations in the Bible study groups and discernment groups with people holding a wide range of radically different positions, and they learnt from them and allowed their hearts and minds to be changed a little.
And I was really present and visible in my own way, a gay man reporting on ACC14 and chatting with members and staff. I have wonder whether the hostility shown to me on Monday by Bishop Nwosu might have been to some degree displaced anger. The issues for the Communion had not been dealt with in the way he and some other conservatives wanted, especially in the outcome to the Covenant debate. Perhaps I was the visible target for his frustration, and a symbol of what his own teaching and mind set thinks is wrong with the Communion. Perhaps to a degree he is blinded by projected fear and the assumption of his own righteousness, and certain that his personal beliefs are true.
We are all capable of being blinded by projected fear, can assume that our own righteousness is more holy than yours, and over-certain that my personal beliefs are true. Conservatives fear lack of certainty about the Gospel and salvation. I fear dogmatism and certainty. And I fear for the ability of the church to ever been open enough to form a Christian community which works for global cooperation, compassion and generosity to those who are “different”.