Years ago I remember a very funny move: The Russians are coming; the Russians are coming. It came out at the height of the Cold War. And it is the story of a rather inept and bumbling Soviet submarine and crew that run aground on the isolated Maine coast while trying to see what the US was like. Of course the people of the remote fishing village think they are being invaded and the plot goes downhill from there. It starred Carl Reiner, Theodore Bikel, Eva Marie Saint, Allen Arkin and Jonathan Winters. And the title, of course, comes from the historic Paul Revere ride. It poked fun at provincialism that was keeping the people of Russia and the people of the US from finding that they had more in common than the nationalistic jingoism was protraying. It raised up just how absurd the posturing of the governments and military-industrial complexes of both nations were when humans really wanted the same thing: freedom and safety to live their lives in peace.
This is the kind of gossip that surfaces in a climate where the people have had a long history of being kept out of loop. It is the kind of gossip that unwinds when there is not enough open discussion or transparency and ancient fears come to surface. I do not fault our leadership. I am just recognizing that the historical isolation of past regimes still reside among us and how we fall prey to those old patterns even when we were not part of their formation. The problem is that we are not looking at the old patterns and owning our complicity in them so that we CAN re-imagine a Church for the future.
I can't make it more clear than to say that neither the Presiding Bishop nor the President of the House of Deputies have the power to shut us down, make us join another diocese or make us do anything. And what I know of ++Katharine and Gay+ is that they do not operate that way by way of nature. They are here to help us us think again of what it means to be Church. ++Katharine did it five years ago and is visiting us to see how it is going.
The Church, as an institution, has become less conscious of the Spirit and more conscious of how we follow can 'fit in' in the corporate 'realities' of our society. The anxieties are more about how we are going to pay the bills than how we are going live out the love of Christ, how we are going to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the truth we are before God and how to find the Incarnation in others. I have never known that to be a cost driven effort.
It is interesting in the movie I cited above that the way that the Russian and the Maniacs were able
I will not leave the Church. Some years ago a bishop who had been attacked for saying critical things of the Church invited me to 'die with him' for the sake of the Church. It was a charge I have never forgotten. The liturgy alone is food for life, death and resurrection. It is what continues to transform me as I face my declining years. We need to find ways that those of us who have invested our souls in the life of the Church are not turned away simply because it appears that we have outgrown it.