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Re: A Thought
> I have been trying to bring into inward focus what troubles me
> about your recent post concerning the paucity of comments
> submitted to the Eames Commission by folks from TEC and
> those who support the decisions of GC. While in many ways
> my analogy below is flawed, I think it is still relevant.
> Paul Jones, Bishop of the Missionary District in Utah, dared to
> utter a three word sentence in 1917 which threw TEC into
> complete turmoil. He said: "War is unchristian." The House
> of Bishops formed a Commission to investigate Jones which,
> after hearing from Jones alone and none of his supporters,
> "The underlying contention of the Bishop of Utah seems to be that war
> is unchristian. With this general statement the Commission cannot
> agree, and, specifically, it thinks that the present war with Germany in
> which our country is involved, being, as it is, for liberty and justice
> and righteousness and humanity among nations and individuals, is not an
> unchristian thing. This Church in the United States is practically a
> unit in holding that it is not an unchristian thing. In the face of
> this unanimity, it is neither right or wise for a trusted bishop to
> declare and maintain that it is an unchristian thing. If the
> compelling force of conscientious conviction requires such utterances,
> fairness demands that it not be made by a bishop of this Church. The
> making of such an Episcopal proclamation should be preceded by the
> withdrawal of the maker from his position of Episcopal leadership."
> Was Jones right in what he said? Absolutely.
> Did Jones have the right to say what he did? Absolutely.
> Was Jones speaking a Gospel Word? I think so.
> Yet six months later Bishop Jones resigned his position.
> It turns out that the witness of Bishop Jones was the beginning of the
> peace movement in the Episcopal Church. An important step on that
> journey was the creation of the Joint Commission on Peace in 1979. This
> led to the Standing Commission on Peace and Justice (or whatever its
> name is these days) on which you have served with such distinction.
> I believe that the larger community in 1917, in this case the House of
> Bishops, was quite wrong in what it did at the time. But the suffering
> love of Jones began a process of transformation. Over time a community
> learns to value the person who is out of step with the mainstream. If
> spiritual maturity should ever become part of such a community, then
> one often hears the voice of God in such people.
> My sense is that the Eames Commission will not focus much attention on
> whether GC's actions were right, but rather will be more concerned about
> our understanding of community. You perceive GC's actions as taking up
> the cause of a persecuted minority and I agree with you about that. My
> sense is that the third world Bishops seem our actions as yet one more
> example of our inability and/or unwillingness to welcome them as full
> partners to the table. Both parties want respect, I think.
> For me the Good Friday story is the supreme example of suffering love
> acted out in the midst of a mob gone crazy. Such love softens hearts
> and transforms people and institutions. In 2003-04 We sure do have a
> mob which has gone crazy. I am wondering where the suffering love is?
> Nathaniel W. Pierce
> Trappe, Maryland
Your analogy suggests that +Gene would have to resign for you to see
suffering love. I see suffering love in his willingness to stay and take
the heat. His suffering for you is theoretical, no different from the
struggle anyone experiences in a taking a strong rhetorical position. You
don't have to live in his skin. You don't have to face the abuse that he
faces. Nor do you have to live with God's call still to persevere.
I rejoice in +Jones' suffering love, and in
The suffering +Gene experiences may not seem very redemptive for you in
the context of Anglicanism. It is extraordinarily redemptive in the
context of lesbian and gay Christians.
Thanks for your challenges.