Tuesday, April 28, 2009
If you have been wondering why there have not been posts on this blog for a while, please do not think that it is because I am out of town, don’t have anything to say (far be it from that!), I am grieving my mother’s death or that I am sick. All of these have been true over the past few weeks, but these are not the reasons why I haven’t been posting.
The REAL reason is that my faithful laptop that endured relief work after Katrina finally bit the dust. One day the Shift Key flew across the room and the screen began to do this half screen thingy. Even Spider Sol was no longer inviting and Mah Jong was impossible.
I have invested in a new laptop with VISTA. It doesn’t come until next week. I liked my XP. I don’t want to change, but it is inevitable and necessary. A friend tried to get me to change to Mac. I couldn’t bring myself to do THAT much change, besides, then my telephone stuff wouldn’t sinc. But since I really don’t know how to use the blackberry very well either—the learning curve may be the same. I just know that when it buzzes I am supposed to punch the green button and say hello.
I referred to myself to a younger colleague that I was a technological Neanderthal. She disagreed—she said that anyone 60+ who could blog and do a blackberry was merely Cro-Magnon. I guess I felt complemented. I am going to a workshop soon to learn about Face Pages and Twittering. I would really like to learn how to link on my blog and find youtubes that are funny to post. There are those who have tried to explain, but I am going to have to have someone show me. And oh, yes—how do you load tunes on one’s blackberry? And is there a way to download Rachmaninoff’s 7th and Mahler’s 1st? These minor things that face the ‘modren’ cleric in the face of the present age!! They didn’t teach this stuff in seminary!
Without the distraction of the laptop, I have been reading BOOKS! Gracious! And everyone of them, fiction or non-fiction, have been dealing with the edge between the non-churched community and those who are. Even the CD I am listening to in the car to keep me awake on the commute and the series on TV are falling into these two camps: the tension between the non-believer and the believer.
All too often the non-believer is the rational, ‘just the facts, ma’am’ type while the religious sort is shown to be irrational, anti-intellectual, pedantic or just plain stupid. This is even played out in some of my relationships with family, friends and colleagues. I am tired of having to say that one can be rational and faith-filled. But perhaps this is the job of the Christian in this post-modern world.
Even though I have been preaching for a number of years and have had to address unbelief always in my pastoral career, I still have a difficult time dealing with those who are afraid of embracing a loving God. For me, faith is not something HOPED for. God merely IS. I don’t just think it. I KNOW it. I have not deluded myself. I know the God who has loved me since before creation. And it is in that relationship that I know myself, know and love others. It is as simple as that.
I have been asked to teach a course to deacons on the history of the Church from the time of Jesus up to the Reformation. I decided I would let the Lutherans explain Luther to the Lutherans. But most Lutherans do not understand how Luther’s theology was melded into the English-speaking world by the likes of Cranmer, et. al. And despite the evangelical arm of the Church and the Anglo-Catholic arm, Luther’s tenets are still strongly among us. I think it would be wise for us to remind ourselves of our Lutheran roots rather than go to the A-C or Reformed tradition which often are at odds with each other. It might give us a bit more underpinning to our ‘via media’ than what seems to be discussed on HOB/D.
This edge between unbelief has plagued the Church from at least the 50’s CE. Paul had to describe it to Peter. It is this faith—this relationship with God that goes beyond all doctrine and yet it is often the doctrine or dogma that has held the Church together. But doctrine and dogma do not relationships make. How do we teach Church History without tying ourselves up in what we OUGHT to believe rather than sharing what it is we KNOW?
These days, even in the Episcopal Church we find clergy being ‘reported’ if their questioning in their relationship with the Holy One happens to stray outside of those boundaries we call doctrine and dogma. Bishops may; clergy may not. We find that what one segment of the Church believes must be believed by the whole of the Church. Certainly the clamor for an Anglican Covenant is a sign of this kind of catholicity. This is certainly not the Church that I embraced 40 years ago. I espoused myself to a Church that could tolerate difference, could appreciate differing opinions, could support people on their journey to knowledge of the Holy One.
Following Vatican II in the 60’s, the documents encouraged especially religious orders to go back to the charism of the founding of their orders. I think it is about time for us Episcopalians to do somewhat the same. This does not mean that we need to go back to thumping arcane dogmas. It does mean that we need to embrace the kind of freedom and hope that the Reformation in England provided. It means that we need to go to what excited the Cappadocian Fathers and Mothers, or the Desert Fathers and Mothers rather than the theological fine-tuning that Ecumenical Councils provided. We need to get back to what motivated saints like Perpetua, Macrina, Origin or Anthony to live lives of love among their fellow Christians. We must find the writings of Julian of Norwich, or Hildegard of Bingen, or find in the turgid dogmatics of Luther the God that thrilled them. We must be willing to listen to their doubts as well as their certainties to find for ourselves the beauty of the dance with the God who loves us all.
Do we need more Creeds or Covenants when we cannot even share the Eucharist with one another or when we cannot even embrace the vocations to which we are all called?
General Convention 2009 needs to spend less time with legislation and canons and more time worshipping with one another—singing God’s praises, sharing our hopes and dreams. It may not be as satisfying as crafting good legislation that falls on deaf ears, but it would do much to heal the schism from which we bleed. It is not about LGBT folk. It isn’t about a gay bishop. It isn’t even about who is right or wrong. It isn’t about even Power—who has it and who doesn’t. It has to do with what is HOLY