Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Limitations (Crafton)

The Limitations of Like Minds
by the Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton


Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22)

Respect for conscience is the great gift of Anglican life together. You are not me, and you never have to become me. You have your own journey, and it is not mine. Together we serve the God who created us both, and we can do so even if we disagree, and even if our disagreement is about very important things. We do not have to be a community of like-minded people. We can just agree to serve.

A community of like-minded people has no internal method of self-correction and self-examination; the most it can do is monitor conformity to unquestioned norms. The friction of argument and the energy it produces is the potent fuel of ideas, in the human community. All our intellectual progress has been accomplished by questioning assumptions.

If an orthodoxy can bear such scrutiny, it remains as it was. If it cannot, it changes. So it has ever been. A questioning mind is not the devil's work. It is one of the fruits of baptism. We pray for it at the font.

That is why we have married priests, why we have women priests. It is why we have restored the ministry of deacons in the Church. It is why the disabled are not barred from serving in ordained ministry. It is why women who have recently given birth are not considered ritually unclean. It is why Christians need not observe the large and complex corpus of Jewish law. It is why the Church is very different in our century from what it was in the 19th. Or in the 16th. Or the 4th.

This is not a betrayal of principle. It is the way human beings live. We live in history as fish swim in water, and history only moves forward. The realm of God to which we look is without time, but the world in which we now live is bound to history. Eyes open, brain in gear and spirit available for instruction, we move with its current.

Don't try to abandon history, for you cannot, not while you are here. Don't try to stop it. Instead, talk to it. Look at it. Listen to it. The human family has many ways of being in the world, and all are instructive in some way. It is the height of hubris to think that we know all there is to know about God's ways because we understand our own. It cuts God out of our story, and makes it a very local story indeed. A story about us alone.

About the Author: Barbara Cawthorne Crafton is an Episcopal priest, spiritual director and author. She was rector of St. Clement's Church in Manhattan's Theatre district. She was also a chaplain on the waterfront of New York, and served both historic Trinity Church, Wall Street and St. John's Church in Greenwich Village. She was a chaplain at Ground Zero during the recovery effort after the WTC bombing. She writes and gardens at The Geranium Farm.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Prior Aelred said...

I like this very much indeed -- one of the things I remind people of from time to time is that Eastern Orthodox culture has never been through the Renaissance and Reformation & Western Latin culture has (whether we like it or not) & this has an effect on how we function (whether we like it or not) -- for most people, denial is just not an effective coping mechanism.

8/01/2007 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will comment that orthodoxy is to be the norm. It can be questioned, but those questioning do not have equal status with the orthodox stand. To use the legal terms the burden of proof is upon those seeking change.

One example is women as priests. It is true that a very small portion has women as priests. It is hardly a settled matter. Even with the Anglican Communion, it is still in a form of discernment. Nevertheless, to many in the Episcopal Church in the United States, it is a settled matter and those who disagree are to be expelled.

New ideas may be true, but they must prove themselves, it is not the call for orthodoxy to have the burden of proof against each new idea.

Scott+

8/02/2007 9:02 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I agree (as does Crafton's essay) that the burden of proof should be upon those who challenge the orthodox position.

Unrelated to that (I think), I have this question, Scott: Where in TEC are people being "expelled" because they oppose the ordination of women? If that is happening, I am unaware of it.

8/02/2007 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been actions started against the 3 Bishops who will not ordain women. It is well known that in area, no man who does not agree with women as priests should even bother to apply for ordination.

I know of several people who have been told to get with the program or leave the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Not the same as women as priests, but another example. I have been asked to leave a Episcopal Service based upon what I did for a living. This was done from the front of the church in front of all the people. I was refused communion because my work did not fit the priests political views.

The Episcopal Church in the United States has it own form of liberal orthodoxy. In many places it is taken to an extreme. In many places it does not welcome orthodoxy thinking in religious matters, or conservative thinking in political matters.

Scott+

Scott+

8/02/2007 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Scott+

I for one am sorry to hear this. I totally support the ordination of women, but I've known, godly Christian men who struggle with this. There is no way I feel that anyone should be barred from the priesthood because they cannot wholly agree with woman's ordination.

I think it is a problem, if they refuse to share fellowship or work together with their female colleagues.

We need to find our unity in Christ, around His gospel, and realize that not everyone is going to totally agree about all these matters.

Grace.

8/02/2007 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, God have mercy!

You were refused communion because the priest did not agree with what you did for a living based on his political views.

If it's not too personal, Scott+, what was it that you did for a living?

Grace.

8/02/2007 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's not too personal, Scott+, what was it that you did for a living?

DOD contractor

Scott+

8/03/2007 9:11 AM  
Anonymous JCF said...

Without knowing anymore about you, Scott+ (you're a priest and a DOD contractor?), it's quite possible I would think your profession profoundly immoral...

...but for a priest to deny you communion for that, is the BIGGER crime. What diocese? Did you go to the bishop? (I honestly can't imagine any Episcopal bishop permitting such liturgical judgmentalism by one of his/her priests! >:-0)

8/10/2007 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, Scott+ about being so late to get back to this thread.

Well, I have sons in the military, so you can imagine I would see things very differently than this priest who refused communion.

I personally feel that sometimes in a fallen world even lethal force is needed to protect innocent lives. I honestly do not believe that our country is involved in a war of conquest.

What would happen if we abolished the Defense Dept., Homeland Security, or the police force? The consequences are too terrible to even think about. God have mercy!

You know this is an aside, and maybe this thread is pretty much ended, and no one is out there still listening. :(

But, I wonder why so many GLBT affirming folks in the church also seem to be coming from the far left politically. God has a diversity in the church, I know. And, we're all one in Christ. But, are there no politically conservative, libertarian Christians out there who also would advocate for GLBT inclusion?

Why is there this divide? Just askin?? :)

Grace.

8/10/2007 6:57 AM  

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