Saturday, January 5, 2008

A sign that the Anglican right is losing perspective



As a sign of how many elements of the Anglican right are really losing perspective is the fact that they are outrages--yes outraged--that our Presiding Bishop sent out this Christmas card. Here is what the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fort Worth (who refuse to ordain women, by the way) had to say:

The Presiding Bishop has done something which defies explanation. This is the Christmas card she sent to Bishop Iker and presumably other TEC bishops. Given the increasing polarization in TEC (and the Anglican Communion) today, the only reason we can see for her to make this choice is that she is only interested in pushing the polarization just that much further.

The Presiding Bishop is an intelligent woman, so this reinterpretation of Scripture to exclude masculine images must be intentional. This card illustrates in many ways the core problem of the General Convention Church. Scripture cannot be made to conform to us, we must conform our lives and our faith to Scripture. We will continue to stand for the traditional expression of the Faith.


As you might imagine, the Anglican blogosphere is having a great deal of fun with this. My favorite response is by Andrew Gerns:

Given the many cultural permutations of the story of the Magi, one might wonder what the problem is. The letter says that we must conform to Scripture, rather than make Scripture conform to us and our preferences and tastes. Fine.

But one of the ways we conform to Scripture is to let it infuse us, challenge us, change us. The image of the card allows us to look at the story of the Magi's visit with new eyes. It is not saying that the Magi were, or should have been, women. It is not a retelling of the story or changing the nativity...it is a reflection on the meaning, depth and power of the incarnation and our response to it.

. . .

The folks in Fort Worth say they are mad about Scripture being reinterpreted. But the story itself has an amazing (and rich) story of interpretation! In fact, were it not for that history, the story would not nearly be as lovable--or lovely! But there is reinterpretation and then there is meddling. Clearly, the good people in leadership in Fort Worth don't want to go there.

Okay. So the card is not their cup o' tea. Why have they chosen to take public offense?

I think that they are offended with the idea that faithful women can encounter the Messiah. They are offended that faithful women might gather round and give praise and homage to our Lord and come away with a message of peace and community.

Is that really so threatening? For some people it clearly is.

(Besides... we all know that if the Magi were really women, they'd have brought much more useful gifts!)


Read it all here.

2 comments:

JimII said...

It is disappointing that folks can get so upset about their folklore. It's particularly wicked that in reading a story about how the salvation that Jesus offers is universal, a salvation that was obvious even to people from distant places, a salvation that would turn the world's hierarchy on its head, in reading that story someone could walk away offended by an image that proclaims universal salvation and turns the world's hierarchy on its head.

Oh, and I heard it as "If they had been wise women they would have stopped to ask for directions so that they could have got there on time to help with the birth . . . and they would have brought more useful gifts."

hi said...

Left or right. Unattractive card. Unattractive reaction.