Tuesday 4 August 2009

When words are no better than silence, one should remain silent

A married, ordained heterosexual posted an anonymous comment on Monday 27th’s blog about the Archbishop’s Reflections on General Convention. The comments were far too valuable to be left there, read by the few, so I am posting them here as blog in their own right. Thank you, anonymous, for your wisdom.


As I read the comments all I feel is a profound sadness.

To those who would quote scripture or cite tradition, they would do well to meditate upon the Christ who welcomed all but challenged those with fixed perceptions of 'who is in, who is out' in God's Kingdom. Our Lord welcomes the lepers, the adulterers, the Samaritans AND the Pharisees, The Romans, etc. I will not use the word 'sinners' - that was imposed on him by those who would judge. He simply welcomed openly, challenged where necessary, loved totally.

What Jesus condemned, quite voraciously, were those who placed burdens upon those simply trying to feel their way in finding God and reminded us all of the need for humility when proclaiming the limits of God's love: Judge not, lest ye be judged.

For those who would point to isolated scriptural texts or point to tradition, let's remember a Christ who sat lightly to the letter of Shabbat restriction, placed mercy above the death of an adulterous woman and rejoiced at a Samaritan's faith - hmmm - all of which would have been roundly condemned by many of the religious professionals of his time.

As Anglicans, our way has always been the three ingredients of scripture, tradition and rationality, feeding each other in dialogue and within a context. We are not a Church of Sola Scriptura - the Anglican Communion fought long within itself for a modest approach that counted all things as provisional before the unfolding of the Kingdom. For me at least, that is the great gift Anglicanism has given the world. It would be a shame now for the World to do so much better with it than us.

I am heterosexual, married, ordained and I will rejoice in the day when matters of sexuality, race and gender are placed in the context of all are one in Christ.

As for Rowan, there I feel truly depressed. He is a man of amazing talent and I respect his theological talents. I believe him to be a man of integrity trying to do what he thinks is right in the longer term. How long, though, must we be asked to understand the African context and yet not have the same requirement to understand the North American context, or any other for that matter? Today we remember William Wilberforce. As he was continually forced to go back to the drawing board men and women suffered greatly. Do we not find ourselves shocked that such suffering continued as those in power repeatedly said 'no' or the much more sinister 'we need to wait until the time is right' - a euphemism for 'we'll keep our economic power base for as long as we can thank you very much'.

If there should be a moratorium, perhaps it should not be on Provinces acting on their discerned conscience but rather on the continual war of words, which seems far more destructive and pours shame on the Church in the eyes of those we would seek to call into Christ's Kingdom. As a Zen saying has it - 'when words are no better than silence, one should remain silent'.

Perhaps it will be in silence that we will truly end up walking the road God wished us to walk down. It may be naive hope but at least it's a good one. If not, then at least in silence we can leave it all to the love and the judgement of the One who alone is fit to judge any of us.

So now I will follow my own advice and be silent!

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