Thursday, July 31, 2008


It was too late for me last night to redo the text of my blog. If anyone back in the States thinks that we are on some kind of a junket here, they are mistaken. We are up at 6 AM and go until 10 or 11 at night. With the heat and humidity and lack of air conditioning, I am pretty brain dead by the time I get to sit down to do my blog, so I hope you will forgive my technological mistakes at that late hour!

[PS. Go down to "Two Moving Moments" to see a video of Laura that accidently also got left off]

Yesterday we talked a lot about the role of Scripture in the church, and my impression was that most of us are in agreement as to how to study and apply the Bible. I have found few literalists or fundamentalists in this bunch. I sometimes hear it said the our troubles as a church are not over sex but over Scripture. I don't believe that is true. What is true is that we use the same tools to approach Scripture and come away with conflicting understandings. Given our wide range of cultural backgrounds, that is not only to be expected, but is probably a good thing.

One of the insights that came out of our meetings this morning (Thursday) as we turned our attention to sexuality was that whereas inclusion of Gay and Lesbian people is an important part of mission strategy in the first world, just the opposite is true in the third world. We heard stories of how churches have grown in places because of the welcome given to homosexual people, and also stories of how the American churches actions have hindered church growth in other parts of the world.

It made me think, could we say something like
"As the Anglican Communion we affirm a committment to mission above all, and we realize that like St Paul, we need to be 'all things to all people in order that we might win some for Christ.' Might that approach allow us to move the question of sexuality away from a theological debate over who reads the Bible correctly, to a
multifacted missionary stragety where full inclusion could be accepted in one place and not in another?

The good news so far today (and I will write more about this later today) is that the mood of listening and understanding is extra-ordinary good. So far there has not been one hint of rancor or anger. Stay tuned.


Pondering the Word said...

I think you make a good point. The world is complex and we cannot expect all of us to be the same at the same time. I no more want to "impose" upon other members of the Communion than I wish for others to impose on us.

I once read an article, which I will try to locate in my files, that argues the idea that a society in which women are equal members and not property is also a society that becomes open to the marginalization of others within it. I think it was written by Margaret Farley and leaned heavily on the writings of Paul Ricouer. What it tells me is that we cannot expect other societies, for whom women are still bought, sold, and held as possessions, to see the world in the same way as a society inwhich women have full rights. We need to begin with the women before we can move to other areas. I think your comment about the 100 men who left that Bible study group points in this direction.

Thank you for commiting to a daily blog even while hot, exhausted, and "full". I appreciate your sharing.

Sam Hosler said...

Thank you for this latest posting. If poetry is "...that which has often been thought, but ne'er so well expressed," your remark that "What is true is that we use the same tools to approach Scripture and come away with conflicting understandings. Given our wide range of cultural backgrounds, that is not only to be expected, but is probably a good thing."

This help me understand Paul's desire to be "All things to all (people)," and the necessary conflict between Peter and Paul over cultural understandings. It also convinces me that the purpose of a Covenant would be to mediate cultural understandings rather than Gospel understandings.

The Thirty-Nine (or 42) Articles are VERY hard to preach on! Have you tried to pull forth nuggets of the Gospel from its dated cultural undestandings recently?

Thank you for your poetry!

Sam Hosler

kitty said...

Thanks for the continuing updates. They are most interesting.

One thing, however. Perhaps the lack of air conditioning, the heat and humidity is God's way of reminding the bishops that most of the world doesn't live in air-conditioned comfort. There are many who have do hard physical work in such an environment. For them it is a normal thing while for a number of bishops it is a real hardship to sit and talk much less do physical exertion in such a climate; maybe it is the closest thing to real hardship they have known in years. Maybe it's a reminder from God to remember their brothers and sisters who do not have the advantages they themselves enjoy and a spur to work so that the playing field is more even as the MDGs represent.