Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Condemnation, or conversion?

While I was busy last Sunday trying to feel Catholic, my other church was getting ready to make history. When I heard the news that the Episcopal Church in the USA had elected its first female presiding bishop, my first reaction was a sort of you-go-girl feminist hurrah, but the more I hear of the continuing reaction and analysis, the more I wonder. I remind myself that the Catholic Church isn't the only one with problems; at times the Anglican Communion seems to be hurtling toward self-destruction at an alarming rate of speed.

I admire the ordination of women and the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church. I adnire the the willingness to wrestle with the big questions. I wonder if any institution has a higher obligation to model justice than the church, and I admire the Episcopal Church for striving to do just that. At the same time, though, I can't help worrying about where things are going. I've always been impressed by the eighteenth-century Quaker John Woolman, who saw a moral obligation to end slavery but felt equally responsible for ministering to slaveholders, trying to save their souls by persuading them to see that what they were doing was wrong. In the twenty-first century, we seem much more comfortable with condemnation than conversion.

Churches change slowly for good reason, and I am wondering if it might be better to live with injustice for a little while longer out of respect for those brothers and sisters who aren't there yet, to keep working on converting them instead of fracturing unity by charging ahead. And I wonder if I might use these arguments on myself, to talk myself back into the Catholic Church ...

I've got Jesus!

I celebrated my birthday this week and was delighted to find Jesus and Freud among my gifts, thanks to my daughter, who noted how excited I was last month when I found them displayed side by side in a shop window. Now I have to decide whether to go ahead and put them on my desk at work, so I can enjoy them all day long. I see potential there for offending believers and non-believers alike.

As I was admiring Jesus again this morning, it occurred to me that if we set having a body like Jesus as a requirement for ordination and used this Jesus to define the standard, it would be pretty hard to find any candidates. How many people do you know who have no identifiable gender parts but do have wheels embedded in their feet?

And, demonstrating the human tendency toward never being satisfied with what we've got, this morning we were walking back from breakfast in town and passed a shop window where a deluxe plastic action figure Jesus was on display. That one comes with a jug for wine (to be changed into water) as well as plastic loaves and fishes (for feeding the multitude), plus his hands glow in the dark. Proving that Jesus is always cooler on the other side of the fence?


At 12:42 PM, Blogger Teri said...

whoa, deluxe action figure jesus? that's amazing! i already want one. (jk) Why do his hands glow in the dark? Is that a feature of the historical Jesus that the Seminar has yet to get a hold of?


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