Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Taking the long, calm view

I will freely admit that taking the long view is not something I'm good at. When I see an injustice, I want it fixed --- right now. And since we know God's time is not necessarily our time, I am often left waiting, with empty hands.

But after finishing Bishop Gene Robinson's new book, In the Eye of the Storm, I feel a deep sense of calm and peace about the turmoil we Anglicans find ourselves in, even if I think I know what to do to fix it -- right now. The exclusion of GLBT folks may not end right now, but it will surely end. After all, we have been through this before:

Our Anglican difficulties today aren't really new. They're just a new chapter in a very old conflict that started a couple of thousand years ago, and the Holy spirit has been there in the midst of every battle, large and small. People often ask me when this infighting will end. My response is always a rather pessimistic "never." Because just as soon as we make some serious progress on the gay and lesbian issue, God will point out somebody else we've been overlooking, just as God pointed out that we'd been excluding women and people of color and those who are differently abled. Remember that a lot of people said we didn't need to build handicapped access ramps because we didn't have anybody in wheelchairs. But when we built the ramps we had disabled people coming out of the woodwork. God won't be finished with us until we do what God wants, which is to embrace all of God's children. It's just that simple. (p. 161-162).

Not that it will be easy, or even linear. Bishop Robinson points out that we should expect reversals along with progress. But, even in the face of events like the 2006 General Convention, which I personally found extremely disappointing, we need to maintain a feeling of hope:

In the end I believe that the Holy Spirit shows up in the formal deliberations of the church and its councils. To the degree that we open ourselves to that Spirit, we do God's work. When we are too frightened to do the right thing, we sometimes do the wrong thing. Through it all the Spirit of God does not abandon us, but rather keeps coming back to inspire us and to lead us into all truth. (p. 166)

These are inspiring words from an inspiring man. Not only is the the best exposition I have read lately of the need for full inclusiveness, but it has made me hopeful for the first time in a long time.

Now if I could just be more patient ...


Anonymous said...

Nice post.

I find it very hard to deal with all the slow listening, thinking, praying, etc. about the Anglican Communion issues when I spend every day with wonderful, gifted, called, faithful gay and lesbian people in the ordination process. We have gained so much from giving them access to "The Process". I live in the hope that my dear friends who I have studied with, laughed with, run the chapel with, and served the homeless and destitute with will find that this church is more and more inclusive as the years go by. It is painful to know and love incredible people who will make not only great priests but maybe great bishops and wonder if the order will be open to them in our time.

BTW - Gene Robinson is just as great in person as you'd hope he would be. He is a bishop through and through and a deeply Christian person. He will talk about sexuality if you ask but he's really about the work of the Church. His private talk to my classmates and I remains a highlight of my formation process.

Jan said...

Thanks for reminding me about that book. Your quotes and thoughts make me want to get it (again). Better do it before I forget (again).

FranIAm said...

I really want to read that book... I think that Robinson is a very holy man indeed.

As for the long view, if you make any progress on that send some my way... I stink at it, although I know it is the only way.