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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Desperately Seeking ...Blessing?

In the midst of the painful and deeply sensitive issue of the blessing of same sex marriages within the Anglican Faith, (voted on recently in London, Ontario, but still pending the go ahead from the Primate), I heard an interesting and thoughtprovoking program on the car radio.

Its primary speaker - an obviously gifted, educated, and intelligent man, whose name escapes me at the moment - spoke passionately of the nature of marriage, and the endless debate in which the true definition of the word was discussed, analyzed, and scrutinized for guidance and help in determining the nature of "union between two like minded persons", and how this affected the Church's notion of "marriage", versus the legally recognized "union of two likeminded persons." After a lengthy, intelligent and clearly articulated explanation, he slowly and methodically covered several different definitions of the word "marriage", as discussed in some noteworthy, and respected, dictionaries. Now, dictionaries are extremely helpful books, particularly when one is seeking clarification on the meaning of a word, verbally, and literally. In fact, with no religious, moral, or ethical considerations in mind, particularly, a dictionary clearly and lucidly explains literary terminology with succinct and adroit adeptness.

However, there was one thing my learned Friend forgot: no one is seeking clarification on the definition, or even the idea, of what the word "marriage" might mean, to those outside of the secular world. Indeed, it is clear that Church and State have defined and accepted different ideas of the concept and nature of that word, legally. No one - in the Church, or out - has a problem with those accepted definitions, or, to my knowledge, on the acceptance of the right of individuals to live their lives as they see fit, in a free society, within the ethical boundaries of the right to safety, security, and the pursuit of happiness.

However, we are NOT discussing the legal definition; we are discussing the religious definition, and not once, within the confines of that discussion, did that sensitive, compassionate, and learned gentleman seek guidance from that other, more appropriate, and, indeed, directly related source: the Bible. Additionally, at least within the confines of the Anglican Faith which is so torn by this debate, presently, there are two phrases, which make up the body and soul of the Church, in my mind, which should make the debate, regarding same sex legal marriage blessings, clear:

1. "I believe in one holy catholic and Apostolic Church."

You either do, or you don't - even if you don't necessarly fit into that melee anymore. You can, for instance, believe in the principles and ideals of something, without being able to attain that ideal within the confines of your own life. Therefore, if you do, and you wish to try and live within those concepts, then the direction, and the acceptance of the blessing of these legally accepted, SAME sex unions, within the Church, is quite, quite clear. They are not accepted, religiously, and THAT is the blessing which is sought - not a legal clarification of the term marriage - by those seeking the blessing. In short, what is sought is a total overhaul of an entire denomination, and its adherents, when there is already a forum in which a religious blessing may be sought, and acquired, for that union of persons, within a committed relationship.

I have to ask myself, then, very quietly: what, exactly, is the agenda? It cannot possibly be the honest and real quest for blessing and harmony. Surely, so much quandary and pain, for so many others, when the simplicity of a different lifestyle - admittedly - also involves a movement to another from of expression of Faith, cannot be too much to ask, can it?

But perhaps it is Fear: fear of the Church. With loss of parishioners, comes loss of income, too, and, with this issue, at least, potential loss of "being on the cutting edge". Anglicans have always prided themselves on being modern, in all respects, harkening back to the days of the Roman split: wanting to retain all the quiet respect and dignity that is usually a hallmark of the more pageantry-inspired aspect of the Faith, but being pretty darned daring, at the same time. And darn it! This is one we just couldn't make fit, no matter how much we loved them.

Why would we, when we can visit each other as Friends, instead?

We do that already; this is not rocket science. They have just flown to their own nest, having come of age, and understanding, in their own way. That is not necessarily failure; it is simply an acknowledgement that others must lead different lives - lives which do not necessarily seek, or acquire the approval of, those of a previous generation - and not necessarily under the same roof as all of their other extended family members. What they have not lost is a reverence and respect for Christ, hopefully, and for God, in general. And that, Gracie, is a very good thing.... that is what keeps us all together, sharing a common, undivided vision, at day's end. It is the deep contemplation - not bullying - required of One who guides it.

In the Church of England, the curious combination of "homosexual" and "bishop", notwithstanding the usual requirements of the upper echelon layity, have resulted in the consecration of same, within that same diocesan infrastructure, with freely acknowledged acceptance of the sexuality of a member of a church who is normally required to sacrifice certain aspects of his or her life, for this most serious, and Higher, calling.

In the past, it meant that the word "homosexual" - as a result of solem vows, kept, ideally, was no longer relevant, simply put. And yet, this is not the case.

Why, pray? At what point did this requirement change, and by whose assent was it reached?

Surely this has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of "Royal Peculiar?" That term presents an entirely DIFFERENT relationship within the structure of the Anglican Faith, and requires an old - and honoured - acceptance, permission, and inclusion from the Head of its Body - like it or not - one which might be more readily acceptable, to boot, to the rest of those within its parish considerations: surely a thought to ponder with sensivity!

2. "By whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit."

Within the Anglican faith, there is much room, literally and figuratively, for consideration, flexibility - including modernity, experimentation, flexibility in a marriage, and birth control - for sensivity, deep care and concern for one another, as in the Roman Catholic Faith, and the acceptance of the idea that sometimes, people make mistakes in making those choices. (I.E. divorce.) These basic precepts, even taken so far as the highest measure of faith, involving rhythym, abstention, and a kind of secular companionship within that marriage, also makes clear, and perfectly acceptable, the idea that priests within that Faith, and bishops, even, can quite easily, and without rancor or conscience, feel blessed, enabled, and supported, by being married.

Nowhere, however, does it offer acceptance for secular leadership in which one's homosexual sexual life is placed before the life of the church, or the commitment to the parishes one's calling serves, is placed behind one's need for sexual gratification - which is, itself, outside the bounds of the accepted religious definition of marriage, within the framework of that denomination. Again; within the Anglican faith, at least, there is no debate or lack of acceptance, socially and legally, for what society has deemed legal.

However, this is not a court of law, and what is being sought is the blessing, religiously of that legal union - in which there are two people of the SAME SEX, not the OPPOSITE SEX, within the confines of a religion whose basic precepts discuss a decided nonacceptance of that state, morally and religiously - at least in Canada. I might add that homosexuals who are Not engaging in sexual activity have placed religious life before physical gratification. They have chosen different paths, RELIGIOUSLY AND MORALLY. Their leadership has taken on a different quality, as well.

Other denominations have allowed for the expansion of marriage blessing to include those of the same sex: namely, the United Church of Canada, for one.

One is faced, then, with a conundrum: to gently and passionately urge one's sexually active homosexual friends, who do not abstain, willingly, from sexual acitivity, seeking religious and moral blessing of their legal unions, to join a likeminded religious community whose moral precepts allow for that, or to tear apart a denomination whose structure clearly does NOT?

To me, the answer seems gentle, and clear; with the change in ideals and ethical considerations - much as the Anglican faith did, when it broke from the Holy Roman Church - comes the need for a move; perhaps, to the United Church, who was, itself, almost torn asunder by this same debate. Or, more simply, to the two churches - or others - which are designated "Royal Peculiars", (there are two in Canada, at present), and, therefore, outside the juridisction of the local diocese, although still Anglican. This, as the Archbishop of Canterbury would gently encourage, "keeps the doors open", and for those wishing to remain within the greater denomination which calls itself "Anglicanism", this would seem an immediate, and viable, solution, as well as one which addresses the immediate needs of those wishing to be married.

As far as voting on behalf of parishes, by those lay delegates assigned this duty, I must add a clear, and quiet warning: if you have not canvassed your parish for clear direction in this area - which may well involve a vote, as a clear signal of your respect for their wishes on the matter - then you are not representing the majority of parishioners in this instance, or the precepts of the Anglican faith whose guidelines you say you serve. Unless there is a quorum on the matter, there should be no further debate on the matter, as well, once this vote has taken place -if the laity is brave enough to attempt such a feat, or involve the congregations involved, to achieve a clear concensus on the matter.

Blessing of opposite sex legal unions is simply seeking further acceptance, and moral and religious blessing on a union of two which is already accepted within this Faith; same sex unions, after deep, compassionate, and sensitive consideration, are NOT. The movement, and the shift, and from whence it should come, therefore, with gentle compassion, and heartfelt desire to include within the greater Family of Christian denominations, is clear - without causing selfish schism, or harm to a denomination which has shaken its very roots, in order to reexamine what it says, it Believes.

I wake with a renewed sense of possible Friendship, and compassionate understanding, between Denominations.

Sincere regards!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Preponderance of Pedagogy

Best foot forward...towards?
Peddle. No...
Petal. Sigh.

Ponder it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sweet stolen Sleep of Sheep like Us

Sweet, if this sleep -

This final sleep of which we see only soft glimpses, when

Those we love slip away from Pain into its Comfort

- be a rest beyond all known,

Then thy arms about me must be as silent and soft

As the wind,

Yet strong and solid as a pine standing guard upon the High Mountain,

Lest it Steal me away from Thee,

As our eyes - covered by soft petals,

Drooping, finally -

Dim, together.

D. Nevills, May 10, 2008