Above: The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church of America.
As I said this weekend, I'm not a very good Episcopalian. Yes, I go to church and I make my donations, but my faith don't quite rise to the level of sainthood. In fact, I might best be called an agnostic theist, though I acknowledge the inherent contradictions and problems with that point of view. For me, contradictions are not a fatal flaw. Many, many elements of my life are at odds with each other and I feel no drive to resolve them. I nurture my contrary nature.
This is not to say that religion, and specifically the Episcopal Church of America, is not important to me. My participation is sincere. The inherent unprovable nature of deity does not invalidate the benefits of morality, ethics, love, support, and community which are the result of religion at its (arguably rarely seen) best. I cannot know and will not pretend to have discerned the nature and will of God, but the beliefs of the Episcopal Church constitute a reasonable "best guess" to me, and as a practical matter it is undeniable that my participation in church is a net benefit to my life, and I hope to the lives of others.
Then there's the fact that I'm a gay man. I don't think I need to delve into the variety of ways in which my life departs from the "traditional" American norm and the lifestyle of the majority. Read a few posts down if you have any doubts about that.
These two parts of my life are important to me, so I watch the "Current Unpleasantness" unfolding within the Anglican Communion with great interest. To briefly summarize the recent statement from the bishops: we love our gays, but we promise not to marry them or make them bishops until doing so isn't going to cause a rift in the Communion. Also: get off our turf, African bishops!
The last part is actually the easiest to support. How in the world can anyone allow the prejudices of the continent of Africa influence the lives of so many Americans?
We are vastly different cultures in far more ways than just our tolerance of homosexuality. We generally have no problem coexisting with those differences, though we'd never consider allowing one culture to impose its way of living on the other. Why in this one area does it become reasonable? Who are these American bishops who can look their peers in the eye while facilitating this incursion into their jurisdiction, which has borders that should be protected as a matter of course, for patriotic reasons, if nothing else? It boggles the mind.
As the issue of full inclusion of gays, I don't find myself terribly worked up about any of the recent events. I accepted long ago that I am on the outside of American culture. I don't believe in marriage for anyone--least of all the gays. Why are we fighting to join this failed, flawed, and feeble institution? My relationships are not likely to ever fit into the mold it demands. For the rest, I acknowledge that full inclusion and open participation for gays in every part of the church is an appropriate and admirable goal, and at the same time I'm not shocked or dismayed that we haven't quite reached it yet. To me it seems that the bishops are taking baby steps toward the goal, or at the very least are not giving up ground. Their most recent proclamation does not represent "caving in" to the African demands. They have merely slowed the rate of progression toward full inclusion.
We'll get there, I'm confident of that. I will continue to support those who fight for inclusion. I will also be happy with a result that finds the middle ground and maintains the fabric of the church. Compromise is a good thing. Time and generational change will ultimately wear away at these illogical prejudices.
At any rate, I'll be praying for that in church on Sunday.