Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Letters to The Living Church

One of the really nice things about The Living Church is that it provides so many opportunities to write whining Letters to the Editor. Well, I've had mine for this quarter (and editor David Kalvelage is always very gracious about giving me some whining space every few months); it appeared in the July 5 issue, asking why the Episcopalians for Traditional Faith were pushing the 1928 Prayer Book to celebrate Independence Day. (And that makes sense because....?)

I think David is a fair man (I often don't agree with him, but I think he's a fair man) and therefore it's not appropriate that he give me more space in the TLC Letters column so soon. But this doesn't mean I don't have more whining to share.

1. In the current (July 5) issue, the Episcopalians for Traditional Faith are at it again, this time with a full page ad encouraging couples to choose their wedding ceremony from the 1928 Prayer Book (pages 300-301). And why would that be, do you suppose? Well, in case we missed their point, they use a text highlighter on page 301: "...this Woman to thy wedded wife" and "...this Man to thy wedded husband." Aha. Well, never mind that the 1979 Prayer Book uses almost exactly the same words (page 424). Apparently the point is that the 1928 BCP is the most certain way that folks can proclaim, "No Gay Cooties!" I never knew that about the '28 book, and I grew up with it. But at least we now see what the issue really is. Not that there was really any doubt, I guess. ("Bash a homo! Use the 1928 Prayer Book!")

2. In a response to Bishop Rowthorn's very good article about the proposed expansion of Lesser Feasts and Fasts (now to be titled Holy Women, Holy Men -- Celebrating the Saints), Mr. Kalvelage thinks it's too much, particularly since a number of the persons proposed for commemoration are "unfamiliar to Episcopalians and other Anglicans." Indeed. I unearthed my original copy of Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1963, when we were still using the you-know-which Prayer Book) and looked through the Calendar, which even then included the majority of the commemorations in the current LFF. Except that in 1963 we had never heard of a lot of them; at least I suspect most Episcopalians had never heard of them. But we know them now, and remember them with joy and thanks to God for their witness. And maybe this is the point, yes? Do we really need to be so stingy about how many of God's Holy Ones we commemorate? (And after all, these have all always been optional in any case.)

3. In an adjacent editorial, Mr. Kalvelage argues in opposition to the proposed approval by General Convention of any formal blessing of committed same-sex relationships. He writes (TLC, July 5, page 21): "Such action is contrary to 2,000 years of Christian tradition, and would damage even further The Episcopal Church's already tenuous relationship with much of the rest of the Anglican Communion. Approval of same-gender [sic] blessings also would hasten the departure of conservative Episcopalians from a steadily declining church. In addition, as we have pointed out on numerous occasions, these innovations are non-scriptural." I believe Mr. Kalvelage is a decent and honest man, and no more homophobic than is the case with most of us Straight Guys. But he is missing the point here. (a) We need to be a little careful about "2,000 years of Christian tradition," especially about marriage. Although there is little evidence of committed same-sex relationships before the modern era, it's pretty clear that during much of Christian history, marital sexuality was not very well regarded except as a way to make babies. ("Just close your eyes and think of England.") (b) Please explain to me, David, why we should continue to marginalize our devout and devoted gay and lesbian couples in order not to offend Peter Akinola. (c) Are you suggesting that if we revert to gay-bashing, we're going to recover and keep all these "conservative" Episcopalians who are otherwise departing? (d) Non-scriptural innovations? Episcopalians/Anglicans? Oh, surely not! (Does the word "divorce" strike a familiar note?)

Enough for now....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The objection that I've heard to the latest revision of LFF that makes sense is that it includes a lot of folks who seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with any Christian witness. They're simply famous. Copernicus, for example. Nice guy, wicked smart, but a serious Christian? Meh.