And whatever you do, do NOT try to engage priviledged, self-satisfied, smug lawyer-types in a conversation about the very issue that's tearing apart the Episcopal Church while you're at, of all weird things, an Episcopal retreat!
WASP lifestyle-driven yuppies just hate to be mentally agitated, guess that explains their love of drugging-up their small children. And they certainly don't like to think about much beyond the ALTA/country club box about gay rights and certain priests (their own at All Saints', for instance) who might be compelled to take a moral stand one way or the other on the issue of acceptance of homosexuality, or not, in the Anglican church and community.
At a church outing last weekend, I tried to find out about how fellow parishioners were thinking and feeling about our own priest at All Saints', Geoffrey Hoare. His deep reflections and prayer and meditations on the issue of homosexuality, in the Anglican body and in our church, are present in a blog he is keeping while on on his corporately-funded sabbatical to Africa and elsewhere.
Careful what you go looking for, Dear Readers; you might find it. Here's a sampling of the responses I was met with upon bringing up the subject:
"No, I haven't read it." (Translates to: I haven't read anything in the last ten years other than the WSJ at best.)
"What's a blog?"
"Marriage is a man marrying a woman, and that's it."
"He's vulgar (Geoffrey). He uses the "F" word all the time."
"The parish is doing just fine without him."
"He's too intellectual for me. He doesn't get through to me at all."
At that point, I (silently) suggested they all drop the "F" outta All Saints' and opt for the utmost in simplistic drivel by reading The Purpose Driven Life instead of having to deal with Sir Geoffrey's complexities and utter lack of relentlessly cutesy-cute babblings about fantastical "good news."
What a bunch of boring yuppies they were. I was appalled at the extreme lack of intellectual curiosity in just about anything, except for the small matter of me being divorced and a single mom and would thus upset the couples-only seating plan of the dining hall, as one shrieking Muggle of a soccer mom just couldn't wait to point out when I tried to sit down at her married couples-only table.
And yes, that was hurtful, and what a bellowing hag she was, that Yet Another Atlanta Lawyer's Spouse Thing I made the gross mistake of trying to engage in something resembling a conversation. The numbers just don't add up so cutesy-cute and paired-off when you're alone with your kid at a FAMILY retreat.
But let's take a moment and back away from the bitterness and see what Sir Geoffrey has to say lately about what the issue of homosexuality may or may not do for his continuing leadership (I have hope) of this one Atlanta church.
"In the meditation period I re-read Romans 1 and 2. While I have come to accept that the overriding issue of my entire life in ministry will be shaped by discussions about homosexuality, it is not the only or the most important thing to me and I'd like to be able to put it aside. This morning I allowed the faces of many of the people of All Saints' to come before me in prayer.
And here is where I am: I see nothing especially wrong and much that is more than right in the way many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters conduct their lives in the faith. I see no reason to bar any of them from the Lord's Table or from offering their gifts in ministry. I pray that our Communion does not ask me to abandon them or ask them to be less than who they find themselves to be.
The phrase that kept coming to my mind as I prayed was "The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Without grandiosity or any hint of a savior complex, and with a good measure of fear and trembling, I know that I will stand with those I am called to serve and lead." I hope, --maybe in vain, but I hope that those with power in our church will find a way forward together.
I fear that there is too much hurt and anger free floating around to allow that to happen and once more our sin (the sin of all of us) will lead to an even more broken body of Christ and an even less effective mission. I have heard the argument that we should go our separate ways so that we may all focus more clearly on proclaiming the gospel.
This is dreadful theology for anyone who reads the Gospel of John in which the unity of Jesus' followers is required for the sake of the right proclamation of the good news. Arguments about who fired the first shot, started the war or chose to split the church are not helpful, nor are proposed ways forward that ask us to give up on the people we are given to love and serve. I also, in no way, ask others to stop those ministries of reaching out to people concerned about their obsessions or who experience their lives as disordered.
I hope that in time those who proclaim homosexual people to be "objectively disordered" (a la Benedict XVI) will temper their certitude and maybe do what Archbishop Williams asks, taking another look and perhaps finding things of which they may repent."
Full blog here.
And BTW, least you think me too snarly today, I met and talked and danced with some wonderfully delightful, engaging people while at the All Saints' Kanuga weekend: Keith the Mad Scientist, who likes to banter almost as much as I do; Jan The Doctor and her cheerfully shopping husband; MaryJo, a widowed mom and her sweet angel of a son. That other single mom with that amazing dancer of a three-year old who's name I can't recall right now. And always in my life, my dear kind friends and former neighbors, The Jacobs family.