Thomas Bushnell, BSG (thomb) wrote,
Thomas Bushnell, BSG

the house of bishops

+Chris Epting, reflecting on the media coverage of the house of bishops meeting, says, "By the way, nearly lost in all this, are the statements we made — in support of the people of Louisiana and Mississippi — critical of the government’s response in the wake of Katrina and our continuing work to speak out against the kind of racism and classicism [sic] the storm’s fury revealed."

I find this comment of his extremely perplexing, on several levels.

First, standing out against racism and classism is not exactly news. It would have been news in the fifties, but the House of Bishops is really more engaged today in repenting its failure to speak out fifty years ago. So of course the media did not think it was particularly noteworthy. This is a "dog bites man" story.

Second, the house of bishops itself did not make statements in support of the people of Lousiana and Mississippi. Perhaps I missed the resolution, but the episcopal news service itself did not seem to make a report of such a resolution. instead we have a bunch of speeches by a bunch of people, and try as i might, i did not find any actual speaking out, in the name of the house of bishops, on racism and classism. i may well have missed it. but that in itself is telling! if ens buries it, then why fault the secular press? the reports i read mostly involve other people telling the house of bishops to speak out, and not the house itself actually doing so.

Third, the media can be forgiven for having missed the point of the anti-racism and anti-classism stuff, since the meeting was so massively concerned with avoiding the issues of homophobia. Avoiding them? Well, of course. Let's take an example, shall we? among the hurricane-recovery coverage at ens, we find clear statements (not by the house of bishops, mind you) not just that racism is bad, but specific connections of specific things in the gulf to racism. by contrast, the anti-homophobia stuff consisted of the following: "We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons." Why not say that one such active step could be to come out clearly and forthrightly in favor of equal marriage rights? Why not say, clearly and forthrightly, that Zimbabwe and the Anglican episcopate there is complicit in the sin of homophobia? Because the purpose of the meeting, as I say, was to avoid dealing with issues of homophobia. Pardon the secular press for noticing that embarassing little fact! the house of bishops is mired in the same dismal place it was when it had the job of speaking out against racism fifty years ago, having the same idiotic conversation, and failing utterly to have learned from its past mistakes.

Fourth, if the leadership of the church cannot speak clearly and distinctly against bigotry in its own space then it has no credibility to be speaking against bigotry elsewhere. it is transparently obvious that the purpose of the hurricane relief part was to somehow offset the house's inability to speak against bigotry in their own church. the secular press, quite reasonably, saw through the sham. no matter how many anti-racist and anti-classist knees jerk, it does not somehow offset the monumental failure to speak out on the issue of the day.

Fifth, and most importantly, if the house thought that the anti-racism stuff and anti-classism stuff was that important, it should have actually focused on it, and said to the primates, "I'm sorry, but we're more interested in addressing the problems we have right here than answering diktats from you." or, better, simply issuing no statement at all. the bishops have apparently become convinced that they must save the church. we saw that back at general convention, where the archbishop (who has decided his job is to save the church) strong armed the house of bishops, insisting they had to say something, with the implication being that saying something would save us. B033 hasn't saved anyone, and has caused tremendous harm already. do the bishops think that this latest resolution wil somehow prevent a schism? don't they understand that they have no power to say whether there will be a schism or not? don't they realize that the church has already been saved? what exactly do they think this resolution will do? what effects will it have? if it cannot, in fact, prevent a schism, then what is it for?

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