Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Word and other things - human nature and stuff

Today I listened to myself in a talk (scroll to the very bottom) I gave 20 months ago on the techniques I was using for reading the psalms and the progress I was making in reading Hebrew. I had not realized how much my talk was like a sermon - though light and assuming an acceptance of my presumption in my audience. All that I said then I take for granted now. I am a little more sure of my reading in Hebrew. The product I use to diagram and hold my learning stages has grown. We are in the process of rolling out a measurement system built with that product for a program of the United Nations. How could a surface used to design an evaluation and measurement system be used to analyze Hebrew? I marveled then as I still do, wondering to where the skills wrought in me will be called. In some ways I do not dare to hope but simply to follow minute by minute, day by day, in the midst of so many responsibilities and foolishness.

Also today, I finished reviewing the complex of papers submitted for consideration of a theology of sex within our Anglican tradition. What a curious mixture of words. The link is here. Walter Deller (c 140 pages) gives a summary of TNK as a critique of patriarchal power. It is a severe reading - but quite worthwhile. Stephen Andrews misreads Romans 1 (it is a common problem). There are a couple of short papers on the development of doctrine. Paul Jennings gives a rationale for blessing same sex relationships. My dear friend and advisor Gary Thorne gives a theological argument against.He also writes on 'Friendship: the end of marriage'. I concur with all Gary's premises and love his reflections on friendship, but I agree with none of his conclusions. He though, largely alone among all these pages, seems to have taken the cross as our means of sanctification into account. Paul Jennings then has a short (mostly unmemorable) article on the Grace of Eros. Jamie Howison traces the changes in the Marriage ceremony in the Anglican prayer books from the 17th to the 21st century. It is curious how negatives cannot be read and how positives seem to reflect the commonplace rather than the Gospel. Jamie also has a hilarious section on Augustine. (It is worth finding the footnote just for a chuckle. Search for wind. But I don't use such words on my blog.) Bishop Victoria Matthews has a short article on Holiness. And Walter Deller again on Suicide and the baptism of children born out of wedlock. I have still to read Gertrude Lebans on Tradition - too many books... And I skipped ahead and read Anglicans and the Abolition of Slavery - a marvelous read (way near the end of that pdf.) And there is a short paper on Marriage and Divorce in the Anglican Church of Canada.

What do I really think of all these things? Archaism and tradition have not been successful in communicating the love of God in Christ Jesus. It is God who quickens the dead, the Son who gives life to whom he chooses. Only Gary makes that point explicitly. And it is for that reason, the work of the Spirit through the death of Jesus, that I cannot concur with his conclusion. He makes a better case in favour of blessing than against it. Perhaps what the church should do is try to avoid being an impediment to the gift of God.

There is no need to consider celibacy painful. It is only painful when imposed by humans rather than learned as a charism from Hashem. There is no need to mistrust those who desire a blessing from the believing community. If they are Christ's then surely Christ Jesus will lead and teach them. Who are we to impede? There is unfortunately a need to mistrust the commonplace understanding of church practice and tradition - even those things that have been accepted without question for so many years. When we ask - why does the church marry people - what kinds of response are we expecting? Should blessings be extended to those who are without commitment to Christ Jesus? Is marriage just a social habit that needs to happen 'in church'? That seems to be the way it used to be when the wave of Christendom hit the rocks of the post-war generation.

One day perhaps I will find a way to write something useful on this subject. I do think that the word of the Bible is worth loving, however many years it takes to discover its work.

No comments: