Generous Orthodoxy  

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thoughts at random on the election of a Presiding Bishop

--If the video on the Convention web site is anything to go by, the new PB is personally stunning. She has a wonderful voice, speaks in complete sentences, is entirely composed and self-possessed, radiates calm confidence-- a classic "non-anxious presence." She is extremely intelligent and obviously was/is a very good scientist. Her precision of speech is a tremendous asset. She is fluent in Spanish.

--For more than thirty-five years now, "peace and justice" has been the slogan of the politically left-leaning wing, but Bishop Katharine did not take the opportunity in her press conference to say anything whatsoever about the implications for the Christian Church of the fact that we are presently embroiled in a war that promises to be even more destructive to American values than Vietnam.

--Creation, reconciliation, relationships, peace/justice, and "building the reign of God" -- the often-repeated themes of Bishop Katharine's statements -- do not add up to a complete theology.

--How can there be reconciliation when one party in the church is so completely dominant that other parties are left with no room to maneuver? How can groups in the church who feel that their concerns have been ignored be reconciled to those who continue to ignore them, or even to mock them? Reconciliation must be cruciform: that is, it must come at great cost to the more powerful partner.

--Never has it been more obvious that the ruling theology of ECUSA is not theology at all, but anthropology. We are going to build the reign of God. We are going to develop relationships. We are waging reconciliation. We are admiring the creation (which apparently is not fallen or in need of redemption). There is no room here for God to do anything.

--There are a lot of passages in Scripture besides Luke 4:16-21.

--The traditionalists/orthodox/evangelicals -- or whatever we are -- are in grave danger of falling into the same modes of labeling, sneering, dismissing, demonizing and so forth as the theological liberals, if indeed we have not already done so in a manner fatal to our commitments.

--In his address to the convention, Senator Danforth quoted the great passage on reconciliation from II Corinthians 5 (All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation...) But this passage is easily reduced to the mode of exhortation ("Please let's behave ourselves!") when it is detached from its gospel-centered matrix: For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

--Creation is not the only doctrine in Christian theology, although many children's Sunday School curricula would have us believe so.

--In my reading this week I found this in The Symbolism of Evil, by Paul Ricoeur: "The proto-historical myth [of the Fall in the Garden of Eden] served not only to generalize the experience of Israel, applying it to all [human]kind, in all times and in all places, but also to extend to all [human]kind the great tension between condemnation and mercy that the teaching of the Prophets had revealed in the particular destiny of Israel." Somehow the current discussions in our Church seem to lack a sense of this great and universal tension which is so fundamental in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. We hear a great deal about mercy for those who are deemed to be in need of it, but condemnation is reserved for those in opposition to certain prescribed positions (on all sides of the current debates).