Saturday, March 31, 2007

Got Power?

My astute brilliance was picked up by Susan Russell today on her blog, An Inch at a Time. She is appalled at my expressed opinion that Don Armstrong should have consolidated his power base by either not hiring people who disagreed with him or firing them afterward. Well, maybe not appalled. It just affirms what she already knew, how evil, power hungry and hypocritical we conservative/reasserters are.

I'm very tired, unfortunately, having cut the hair of my three children and bathed them and put them to bed, so I'm having a pathetic time organizing my thoughts into a pithy and theologically sound reply. However, two vague thoughts have arisen in my cloudy mind.

One, power exists in the church. Surely Susan Russell should know this. She is a priest in a large parish in California. I won't brook the idea that she doesn't exercise power in her own church. AND, certainly, the goal of Integrity, as an organization, has been to lobby, consolidate, build support, indeed a power base to achieve a specific goal-the 'full inclusion' of non celibate GLBT people in all orders of the church. Part of the problem has been that the orthodox in TEC haven't, the past 50 years, played the power game. They didn't bother to go to General Convention, to be on Diocesan Commissions on Ministry, to do the boring politicking that is required to achieve political goals in the American church. Only recently have these same orthodox woken up in shock and realized how far the church has drifted from the gospel.

Which leads me to my second vague thought. That it is not about mere raw secular power, it is about authority-Kingdom Authority. The main reason to be careful about who you hire is because, if they are going to exercise ministry and authority in the church, that means they are going to have an influence on the souls of your congregation, in teaching, preaching, pastoral care. And if the person you hire doesn't faithfully adhere to the gospel, you don't want them near your people. Because teaching and preaching has eternal consequences. You're either leading people towards God in Jesus Christ, or away from him. And TEC at this point, is preaching a different Gospel, Susan Russell included. So I wouldn't hire her.

And I would be willing to put a few pennies down that she wouldn't hire me either, or Matt. Why? Because she thinks we're teaching and leading people astray. And she wouldn't want us corrupting her people. For this I don't for a minute think Ms. Russell is evil or bad. I think she's doing what she believes best. She's wrong, of course, and I pray for her. I encourage you also to do so.


Sharyn said...

I pray for you and your children. As a heterosexual married female with a successful college age daughter of my own, I have the deepest admiration for ALL of Susan Russell's gifts, not the least of which is living a principled faithful Christian life.

APBIDDLE said...

I long ago stopped being amazed at people like Susan+ who can work tirelessly for a cause, not the least of which in the political and organizational realm, and then criticize others who do not have the same viewpoint who even suggest doing the same. Had the PECUSA of old had the courage to deal faithfully with Pike, Richter, and Spong, and to insist that its leaders were all at least recognizably Christians, we most certainly would not be in the current mess.

New Jersey Mike said...

Upon reading your prescient comments, I am in awe that you are fully knowledgeable that my little parish here in New Jersey does NOT lead people toward our Christ. Yes, in passing off TEC and, of course, horribly liberal New Jersey you must have God's certainty of this knowledge. What a vision you must have been provided by our Lord into other's souls!

Having left the the Baptist fold, I thought that I had finally escaped the likes of you and your all-knowing firmness on who's right and who is wrong. I'm nausiated; y'all have slithered in unexpectedly!

Matthew said...

I did not know that the Orthodox had generally withdrawn from authority making in TEC. And, that they finally realized what a mess it had become. Thanks for educating me on that point.

However, two points come to mind. First, is it really possible to put the genie back in the bottle (except by standard TEC power structures)? I have doubts that all this high level Anglican Communion dialogue will achieve it -- Windsor, Primates Meetings, the Communique, etc. Maybe Rowan can do it, but I have long-term doubts.

Secondly, in all of this, some Orthodox have suggested that TEC needs to "repent" of its actions. Perhaps so. But I wonder in all of this (Windsor, etc), why the Orthodox don't need to repent for not being involved in Episcopal Church politics? Why is there no harsh language in Windsor and other documents taking the Orthodox to task for avoiding this important work? Why do they not have to take some share of the responsibility for where we are? When we ask forgiveness its also for deeds "left undone." This is being presented as all liberals fault but don't blame the Orthodox -- they were just asleep at the switch. Ignoring a power grab seems worthy of repentance.

C. Wingate said...

It's pretty nervy for anyone to suggest that the "conservatives" (I hate these terms) ought to be uninvolved in (church) politics when the "liberals" have rather obviously looked upon the church as a source of political power for, I don't know, all my life. You can even find "liberal" leaders (e.g. Jane Dixon) who are forthright about it. It's also clear to me that PECUSA political structures, coupled with Anglican latitudinarianism, give liberalization a huge advantage. It seems to me that there is little or no chance of any "repentance" (or whatever you want to call it), not just because of the grip the "liberals" have on various power centers, but because there are so many "moderates" who are unwilling to draw lines.

It has gotten to the point where I have stopped following the machinations in any detail. THe only thing left to settle is how much destruction is going to result.