A series of essays towards General Convention in 2003
By Mark Brunson MBrunson@FWForestry.com
Let me begin by congratulating you upon becoming the Archbishop-elect of Canterbury. May your consecration and enthronement be joyous and holy!
To introduce myself, I am a 34 year-old member of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. I live in South Georgia, am a college-graduate and work in my church within the choir, as a cantor, as a layreader, and am hoping to become a verger. I am to be received into a religious order in May of 2003. I am also a homosexual.
If, at times, my words to you seem rancorous, Dr. Williams, please forgive them, and know that I am a man in an embattled position, seeking to address a difficult issue.
I was deeply grieved at the words you and Archbishop Carey (whom I have always looked upon with great respect) spoke about the issue of homosexuality tearing the church apart. I have tried, diligently, to understand the position of Third World and Traditionalist bishops on this issue. I have tried very hard to remember the fact that we, in America, have the leisure and the wealth to talk over these issues in a way that others don't. What I am left with, however, is the undeniable fact that these men, though of deep conviction, are ignorant and incorrect. I believe that it is incumbent upon us who are better educated and, particularly, directly affected, to say so. To hide behind the idea that we must "tread softly" in order to preserve their sense of self-worth and to avoid being seen as "superior" is, itself, a superior and imminently imperialistic attitude. If we regard them as equals, we must have enough respect for them to call them on the carpet on wrong and harmful concepts.
The idea that, somehow, homosexuals in America are this privileged class of effete intelligentsia is absolutely wrong! We are struggling, just like the majority of this country's population. The fact is, in this wealthy and powerful country, gay men and women may be denied rights to work, to inherit (from their partners), to adopt, may be, in fact, denied the basic protections from law-enforcement that others enjoy. This is not melodrama, Dr. Williams, this is fact. What homosexuals in the African and Asian countries must endure is beyond belief to me. The fact that we waffle so on that treatment is unthinkable. All of this seems, to me, to stem from a purely market-based concern that we may lose consumers! Dr. Williams, you are sacrificing one of your sheep for the 99.
When Augustine was sent to the Anglo-Saxon rulers of Britain, he was afraid. These people were rumored to be vicious, and he turned back several times. However, his mission to the Anglo-Saxons was phenomenally successful and resulted in the creation of the See of Canterbury. The flip-side of this coin was the indigenous church in England, largely Celtic, which refused to accept the Anglo-Saxons or the discipline of Rome and remained separated for centuries from the rest of their brethren. Augustine tried to reconcile with this Celtic church throughout the rest of his life, without success. Would we consider Augustine a failure because he "lost" the Celtic church, or a success because he won the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity? The Traditionalists may, indeed, withdraw as the Celts did. Are we more concerned with Truth or numbers? Do keep in mind, sir, that the Celts did, eventually come around, as well. The evidence is the fact that Dr. Rowan Williams of Wales is now Archbishop-elect of Canterbury! I hope that, like Augustine's journey, these remarks will simply be a false-start.
Be well, Dr. Williams, and know that you have my prayers and support no matter what your decision. I believe God is with you, or you would not have ascended to the cathedra of Canterbury.
St. Patrick's Parish
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