Monday, December 7, 2009

Here We Go Again

Well, the Anglicans among you already know what happened on Saturday. Or, if you just read a Newspaper. Or Twitter. Or breathe. The Diocese of Los Angeles has elected The Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool to be its suffragen bishop. Mary is a partnered lesbian, in case you missed it.

I've only met her once and don't really have a position. Personally, I think they should have elected my friend Zelda Kennedy (she ran a distant third), but what do I know? I can say Mary ran ahead of her opponent, a Latino male, but it was a horse race. From what I can tell, Mary also speaks Spanish, though, as her name suggests, she is not herself a Latina.

I should also add that the diocese actually elected two people to fill two Episcopal positions. The Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce was elected bishop on Friday (She speaks Spanish and Cantonese). So if things go as planned, the diocese will have two female bishops. And just in case the language confuses you, a suffragen bishop is an assistant bishop who does not automatically become the diocesan (head) bishop of the diocese in the event of the death, resignation, or retirement of the current diocesan bishop. Last, you need to know that this election is only part of the process. Mother Glasspool must now be approved by a majority of the sitting diocesan bishops and of the Standing Committees of the 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church. That will take a few months, and in this case, several will say no on the path to making that happen. She most likely will be approved, but it will take more time than is typical.

Whew! That's just the preliminaries. Officially, the Episcopal Church is under a moratorium from any more gay or lesbian bishop ordinations. However, at last summer's General Convention, we also said that we would not stop the ordination of someone who was duly elected through our exhaustive (my word) process, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc.

Well, ++Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not pleased, and it did not take long for him to say so. "The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop-elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.... The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

It would be easy to take him seriously if not for one little thing. As fast as he was able to get this to the press, that's how slow he has been in responding to the Rt. Rev. Joseph Abura of Karamoja Diocese, Province of the Anglican Church of Uganda, who wrote an op ed piece for Spero News to show his support for a new bill in Uganda to allow the death penalty for homosexuality.

Let me say that again, just in case you missed it: ++Rowan Williams has said not a word about a bishop advocating death for gay people, but has the time to comment on an election that he admits is not even finished. Is there something wrong here?

You bet there is. And right now, Anglicans all over the world are starting to say to hell with you ++. Throw us out. See if we care. But that's the only way you're getting rid of us, because you are in serious need of reform and repentance, not us. You've missed the big picture here.

Yes, this is something new. But so was worshiping in English. And abolishing slavery. And allowing remarriage. And ordaining women (Britain was slow to move on that one too). And maybe, just maybe, if you'd get quiet when we talk for a change, you could hear the Holy Spirit blowing through, upsetting a few money tables, and creating something new.

But, in the meantime, don't go looking for our money. Or Canada's. We'll just find local partners who have some sanity in their thinking to work through. We're not going away buddy, but we'll be damned if we're going to sit around and support such hypocrisy through non-action. Are we all of one mind on this? Of course not. But, as an African American, I am glad we did not wait until we were of one mind on that slavery issue.

And those ACNA people? They'll be gone soon too. There really are not that many of them, and one of you bishops who have accepted them will soon find out you do not have the stamina to keep supporting this group of dissidents. After all, if they cannot find a suitable home in the Episcopal Church--about the biggest tent out there--what makes you think they will be happy when you decide to issue an order or two and expect them to obey it?

The bottom line is this ++Rowan: if you have nothing to say to Joseph Abura, then you have nothing to say to us either. Go away and pray for awhile. Then try to come back and actually be a leader instead of a piss poor reactionary. For now, though, we don't trust you.