Monday, August 03, 2009

Where are the voices of women?

Rowan Williams' essay in response to the actions of General Convention has been analyzed all over the web, quite nicely both at Episcopal Cafe and by Mark Harris.

So I am just going to say this about it. He lost all credibility for me at the "lifestyle choice" statement and with his comparison to faithful monogamous lifelong unions to adultery. Oh please.

I'm really really tired of churchMEN outside and inside the Episcopal Church trying to force an institutional solution onto what is a relational problem in the Anglican Communion.

Yes indeed, we don't all agree on how issues of human sexuality should be handled theologically and we don't all agree on how faithful Anglicans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender should be included in the life and ministry of the church. We've lived for centuries with many other differences more significant than this one without splitting.

So what solution have these men come up with? Destroy classic Anglicanism and replace it with a centralized, top down, clergy-in-charge system complete with power to punish those [read the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada] who get out of the narrowly-drawn-lines these men will put into place.

It is, as we say in Texas, like using dynamite to kill an ant.

This whole tempest over sexuality has been the product of men. For the most part, it's been ostensibly straight white men who have been screaming that the inclusion of LGBT folk in the life and ministry of the church is the worst sin of all because they are the worst sinners of all. [I keep wanting to hear Rowan Williams talk about the theological danger of singling out one group of sinners as worse than the rest of us but he's too busy scolding us to have time to do that.]

When these disgruntled men couldn't get their way in the US, they recruited African and Asian bishops to help stir things up.

The amount of male hysteria they have stoked up has been amazing to see. These men are clearly not only willing to split the church, they are willing to do so at the cost of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. And those primates who don't agree with them are apparently willing to sit by in silence, thereby rendering themselves useless to stop people who are willing to destroy this church to 'save" it and make it pure enough for their precious little selves.

Where are the voices of women in all this?

Yes, our own Katharine Jefferts Schori has been a voice of sanity, but she's only one Primate among many.

Here's what the Anglican Consultative Council’s International Anglican Women’s Network had to say when they gathered at the March 2007 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women [emphasis added]:

"The IAWN reaffirms its commitment to unity in Christ:We remain resolute in our solidarity with one another and in our commitment, above all else, to pursue and fulfil God’s mission in all we say and do. Given the global tensions so evident in our church today, we do not accept that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would, ever cause us to break the unity as represented by our common baptism. Neither would we ever consider severing the deep and abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women."

From the Statement made by the Anglican Women gathered at the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, 3 March 2007

This amazing statement got virtually no attention amid all the male-generated noise and threats of splitting the church. Still small voices often get ignored by the men in charge.

So here's a modest proposal.

Before giving up totally on the Anglican Communion, let's have all the men -- Rowan Williams, all the male Primates, all the male bishops, all the male priests, all the male laymen -- take a vow of silence on this issue for a year and let the women of the Anglican Communion work on reconciling us to one another.

Let's let the people -- women -- who really DO make up the largest numbers of Anglicans in the world work on finding a way we can all live together in love despite our differences.

Let's make IAWN the instrument of Communion.

Let's do what Jesus did time and again. Empower these women. And then listen to them.

Wonderful things could result.


SCG said...

Hooray!! A Modest Proposal that may have the best shot yet of actually accomplishing something good!
FYI... ++Rowan lost me after he denounced violence against the LGBT community and then began his next paragraph with "However..." and went on to say words that often sow the seeds of violence.

Elaine C. said...

Thanks for this valuable piece of wisdom!!

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

I think one woman's voice at General Convention, that of Jenny Te Paa, may well have been instrumental in the passage of at least D025 saying that "I am a little surprised and saddened that too many Episcopalians are being affected by their sense of loss of face or vulnerability in belonging to the Anglican Communion. I am dismayed at the extent to which that seems to be prevalent. I don't believe that that is so … it is not how I perceive the rest of the communion regarding the Episcopal Church to be honest."

Obviously she had not consulted the men... (GRIN)

Caminante said...

"It is, as we say in Texas, like using dynamite to kill an ant."

Oh that is marvellous... and so is the rest of the essay.

Takes me back to grad school in 1981 when I would say something that was totally ignored and then one of the guys would say something and the (male) prof would stop and say what a great idea it was. Quite a shock after being in a women's college.

Some things have not changed, alas.

fr dougal said...

This makes marvellous sense! I did suggest at the time of Lambeth that we booted Brian our Bishop and the others in purple off to the Moon for 6 months and let the spouses sort it all out, but nobody listened!

airedale said...

As usual you have an absolutely brilliant idea. I don't think it would work, not because the women couldn't do it but because the men couldn't keep quiet. It is and always has been about POWER.

Daniel Lee said...

Well I note that over at, say, StandFirm they are repeating their Aging Hippie trope - so you must be saying something right after all.

I think maybe Rowan Williams would love a decent year to keep quiet provided he could count on all the other Anglican men having to shut up, too. He'd get to ready and study for a change, and goodness knows, might be able to say something useful on some other issues where his thinking is hopefully less clouded by innate prejudices than obtain when queer stuff arises as a set of red hot buttons.

Any way we can get the women to start pressuring the guys, at home behind the scenes at least? Or is Jane Williams now all on board this blowing up the global communion to get the queers and queer-lovers ploy?

Praise the Lord, pass me some more dy-no-mite.

Unknown said...

After reading this post by Katie and the pro-woman words of Jimmy Carter, I was reminded of a speech given in 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio.

"Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him."

Deacon Dana Wilson

ProudToBeEpiscopalian said...

And we also say, here in Texas:

He's all hat, no cattle.

Can you provide ++RW's real-mail address? I want to write him a letter, with THIS WOMAN's ideas on the subject. Evidently bringing women from the Altar Guild to the Altar didn't make a big enough impact on the good ol' boys. I guess we're not dynamiting ants anymore!
Thanks, as always, Katie, for all you do and say.

Katie Sherrod said...

The snail mail address for the Archbishop of Canterbury is

The Most Rev. and Rt Hon. The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace
London, England

Inside, the salutation is simply Dear Archbishop.

Anonymous said...

Amen. You have raised such an important question and I am amazed and humbled that I haven't thought or heard it before now! Thank God you for you. I stand at your side.

Kay & Sarah said...

I love your suggestion!!

rrchapman said...

Power corrupts.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Now, what was it you wanted? And don't say you weren't warned.

episcogal said...

I love you, Katie! This is great stuff. Appreciate you and your voice of reason.