Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Cats and Covenant
November has been a crazy experience: My letter was finally transferred to my new diocese just in time for Convention; I had a second cataract removed; I became a member of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition; I was appointed a college chaplain, and we brought home a 7 week old kitten to our 8 year old main-man cat. None of those events can even hold a candle to having a kitten in the house.
Nothing is safe in our home now. Toes to toilet paper are fair game for a small tuxedoed little bit of fur that loves to snuggle on one’s chest while one is trying to address the serious implications of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s very annoying demand for loyalty at General Synod last week. It is hard to be scandalized by the ABC’s blatant grab for power when sharp little claws or teeth are making mincemeat of one’s recliner or mouse pad. The diocesan convention with all the sturm und drang of renewing the constitution and canons of a diocese regaining our presence in TEC cannot equal the thundering herd of cats’ feet asserting dominance. And no matter what dire consequences about post-operative care necessary, kitten snuggles take precedent.
It is hard to keep focused on what one is writing, thinking, praying when one’s toes are being attacked. It is impossible to think creatively when one notices 3 lbs. of dynamo is flying off the shelf where great grandmother’s china dwells.
I am desperately frustrated with the Anglican Communion after the Church of England voted to give the Anglican Covenant a hearing. The Covenant doesn’t speak of LGBT issues but the fear of dealing with LGBTQ folk is used to fuel a fire that seems in the ABC’s mind the only answer to us queer folk. It is draconian in its development and punitive in construction. It is the worst case of scapegoating that I have seen in church politics.
Of course we all know that this is what +Jack Spong would claim as the last gasp of the white-straight male hegemony. I just find it the same kind of gay bashing that you might find in the dark corners of our cities. I am tired of being blamed for the loss of membership when it is really those who get mad and leave.
In my entire career, I never had a parish that failed to grow. Even in the last 5 years when there were all kinds of threats in both the Lutheran and the Episcopal churches, I never had anyone leave simply because I was lesbian. I had some very rewarding discussion with those who could not get their heads around the idea. I would occasionally have someone who finally realized that they needed another way to express their own faith. I remember one woman who went to a parish that eventually went to ACNA. She was charismatic and she just needed a different way to express her faith. I don’t begrudge that. After all, I had to leave the Roman Catholic Church in order to follow my vocation.
But I find it very frustrating to deal with people who are unwilling to discuss the issue. It is like my senior cat who for several days after the advent of kitten hiding or wanting to go outside rather than deal with too much wiggle or pounce. Finally we have become a household in which senior patrician cat has made it clear what he will tolerate and what he won’t; there is peace. No more hissing; no more growls; no more running to the door and crying to be let out. And once little cat gets on regular food, there will be unity in communion.
Our two beasts can figure out how to work out living together. How is it that the ABC won’t allow us to even talk to other members of the Communion? Why is it that +Gene must not be invited? Why is it that the African archbishops or the Southern Cone are allowed to walk away and still be catered to? Why is ++Katharine and + Ian told not to attend? Now the GAFCON folks say the Anglican Covenant isn’t tough enough on TEC and Canada, no Covenant for them. What does the Anglican Covenant accomplish anyway?
Meanwhile I watch the antics of cats and find their liveliness absolutely thrilling. It gives me hope. I look at the freshness of my new diocese struggling to reclaim themselves as Episcopalians after the abuse of a bishop who was so frightened of talking to LGBT people and women that he would destroy the Church to keep from having to serve with a female Presiding Bishop. I find parishes growing here even though we are still having to fight in courts. I listen to the laity sharing faith and talking about their faith life at coffee hour—something I rarely heard in any other diocese of the Episcopal Church. It fills me with a kind of energy I have not known in the past 10 years and I give thanks.
If cats can live in détente, the Anglican Communion can too without Covenants, without dictatorial Standing Committees or Instruments of Unity.