Saturday, September 22, 2007

From Kendall Harmon

Kendall Harmon: What Would a Radical Solution Look Like?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I believe very strongly that one of the many tragic aspects of this whole Episcopal Church debacle in the last five years is that not only was the decision in 2003 wrong (and the way it was made wrong) but that nearly every major decision made by the TEC leadership since then has made it worse. The hard part about this is that when you keep failing to offer a sufficiently radical solution to a problem, the next time you face it it requires an even more radical solution.

I certainly wish to salute what the Presiding Bishop said in New Orleans: none of us is without blame in this mess. I have been trying to insist on this since General Convention 2003 and then my first address at Plano one: ALL of us are under judgment.

Perhaps, like me, you are wondering about Archbishop Rowan Williams' calling for 'room to maneuver' and if there is any way forward now which is in the direction of a real, serious solution.

For myself, I will consider those in New Orleans serious when they consider offering the Anglican Communion something like this statement:

We realize we have caused huge damage to the whole Anglican Communion and therefore, we, as a body, voluntarily withdraw from coming to Lambeth 2008.

Now please note this means ALL the TEC Bishops. No exceptions. It would allow Dr. Williams to get nearly all (perhaps actually all?) the rest of the Communion to Lambeth, and it would show a sense of corporate responsibility for the wrong.

Yes, I know it is not perfect. I also know that it would only be PART of a solution and that there are many other questions which would have to be addressed. I also know it would only happen by divine intervention.

But only things LIKE THIS will really get us anywhere given the degree of damage, alienation, confusion and struggle.

I am praying for something along these lines because it will be a real tragedy if the third largest Christian family in the world falls into further disarray.

I see a lot of despair, anger, frustation and bewilderment out there. What I would like to see more of is constructive proposals for actually moving us forward. If you do not like my idea, then what is yours? Please make sure to propose something sufficiently radical which also might be achievable given the constraints. It is not easy, but it is important--KSH.

My Questions and thoughts:

I agree that it is time for all factions to own responsibility for our situation. I disagree with the unequivocal statement that the actions of the Episcopal Church are wrong. For that to be true, one would have to argue that human sexuality is an essential focus of Gospel, and that does not seem to be the case, despite our obsession with it. To argue that human sexuality deserves the attention it is receiving, one would have to reduce the individual's essence to that of sexual identity. Isn't there more to the human being that sexuality? Is the most fundamental assessment of the human related to sexuality?

Some argue yes, and some argue no.

Acknowledging the divide is important. Recognizing the Global South has interpreted the actions of the Episcopal Church as unilateral is key. An expression of real grief over this is warranted. But I am struck by the way we have been behaving and talking at one another. Lambeth, in my mind, could be an opportunity to talk with one another. Too much communication and interpretation has happened with the press as intermediaries. I was under the impression that the purpose of Lambeth was to communicate with one another? If we don't ever really sit down together, how will we come to terms with one another and our differences on these peripheral issues, and get back to our Gospel mission.

Dialogue presumes that we have something to talk about. It presumes that we have the desire to reconcile. Do we really want to stay together and hear the other? Or, are we stuck in being right, and going to our respective corners?

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