Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Can we hold truths lightly?

Grandmère Mimi left the following comment on my post "Still More Questions." I found my reply was getting so long that I wanted to bring it into a post of its own. Then as I was writing it, I decided to cut it way back.

Allen, I would ask Bishop Katharine which truths we are to hold lightly. Are we to hold lightly that it's not permissible to have a two-tiered membership in the church? Are we to hold lightly that it's not right that certain of the baptized members are not allowed full participation?

If I come to see full inclusion as a matter of justice, then how can I hold that belief lightly? I can regulate what actions I take, but I don't understand what she means by holding this sort of truth lightly..One of the reasons I began to write on my blog is that I did not want to be causing a stir in my church by talking about the subject often.

I use my blog as an outlet, or I would explode. Members of my church know who I am now, and a few read my blog. I'm sure some of them don't much care for what they read there, but they don't have to visit. It's not as though I'm standing next to them haranguing them constantly.

We can curb our words and our actions, but hold our truths lightly? I don't think so,

Dear Mimi,

I don’t know why I am so bent on defending Bishop Katharine – or maybe I do. She’s in an impossible situation. Well, not impossible, but very difficult. I can relate to that, for over the past twenty eight years I have served on the board of my housing co-op three times (five of those years as president) and I have had to preside and try to keep peace during some very contentious times.

I still think that you, Jonathan the MadPriest, the folks at Stand Firm, and lots of others are taking Bishop Katharine's words in too wide a sense and maybe also in too literal a sense.

I don’t think she is asking anyone to hold truths lightly in the sense you mean, at least I don’t want to believe that she is.

People on our side believe that we are called by the gospel to the truths you name – our hermeneutic is such that we are forced to interpret scriptural texts in a particular way. We read scripture through the lens of what we see as God’s desire for distributive justice. But there are sincere, faithful people in the church who don’t see it that way – they have a different hermeneutic.

Just as it is true for us that in Christ there is no distinction among persons (male nor female, straight nor gay, and more,) it is true for those on the other side that Scripture unequivocally condemns same-sex behavior.

How can those on either side hold their truths lightly, if “lightly” means something like saying “This is true, but it doesn’t matter much if you don’t agree “ For those on both sides, it matters a great deal.

Some of us hold our truths tightly and wield them like clubs. I think that is what Bishop Katharine is referring to when she speaks of holding truths more lightly.

There's a lot more I could say -- indeed I have it in draft form, but I'll leave it there.

Let me close with this thought. On Sunday we heard a reading from Jeremiah: 23 that started with these words: Woe to the shepherds who have destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! Says the Lord. ... It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them.

I think that Bishop Katharine is doing her best not the scatter the flock.


1 comment:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Allen, I would hold to what I have said. I hope that Bishop Katharine will speak in language that is clear and easy for us all to understand and not in words which require intense parsing and picking apart to discover what she really means.

I want to support her, too. She's very likely the best bishop we could have chosen, but we should be able to take her at her word, and, in this case, her words seem plain to me.