anglican, interview, Katharine Jefferts Schori

Meet an Important Voice

I am curious as to where the Anglican communion is going with the homosexuality debate. If someone can finally help figure this out, without a schism, it would be of great benefit to all of Christianity, and so I watch.

With this in mind, I would like you to meet the presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. In terms of important people and voices, she is one of the key people to watch. I found a Bill Moyers interview and would like you to meet this woman, if you have not already. No matter which side of the issue one might fall, she is someone to pay attention to.

Moyers does a good job in this interview mixing up the subject matter (in a cyclical fashion) and talking about a range of issues, so if you find yourself annoyed one minute and want to shut it off, please give it a bit more time to move on. This interview also does a good job of introducing, not only a simple understanding of the issues – like ecology, science, feminism, queer theology (yes that is the term) – but also their complexity. For instance, Schori makes an important distinction necessary for anyone to understand the argument around homosexuality: in terms of liberation, homosexuality has the same logic as that of feminism.

While Schori is a supporter of homosexuality, it was she who called a hault to practicing homosexual ordination. She is not unapproachable, in fact she is looking to make space to talk this through. She is the one with whom “conservatives” must dialogue with – she is a leader and she creates the space for the dialogue – and it is with her that “liberals” can find a leader for engagement with those who do not flee from the communion. So give her a listen, she deserves that much.

Here are a couple quotes from the transcript:

BILL MOYERS: So is this issue going to tear your church apart?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I don’t believe so. I think people are going to be uncomfortable for a while, but– perhaps that’s the kind of stress that leads to growth eventually. I believe that– perhaps a few more people may decide they have to go somewhere else. That they can’t live with this– innovation, in their eyes. But I don’t believe it’s going to tear our church apart….

BILL MOYERS: As I’ve watched the struggle grow within your community, with an American Episcopalian community growing more and more liberal. And the Nigerians and Rwandans and the others growing more and more conservative on this issue. Is it possible that a divorce is the right choice down the road?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It’s– it’s remotely possible. But if we give up and say that’s the only solution, I think we would lose something very precious. The Anglican Communion is one of the only worldwide faith communities that is willing to live with significant diversity of opinion. I think we have something to offer the larger society in teaching people how to live with folks who don’t agree with you. It’s not always easy, but it is of the Gospel, in my understanding.

One last word that has virtually nothing to do with Schori, but since she brought it up, it is an open door to say something on it. She attributes Galileo’s troubles to his scientific, cosmological discoveries – a heliocentric model of the solar system. Technically this is untrue and a common historical simplification. Galileo did two things the church wasn’t so okay with for which he got in trouble over. The first was saying that the sun did not stand still on that one day when the Bible says that God made the sun stand still. The Bible was wrong and maybe even a lie – at the very least it was untrue. The second was Galileo doing a bit of a PR campaign; a campaign to get his discoveries out as quick as possible, rather than letting the church ease the discoveries into society at a slower pace – a slower pace in terms of a couple generations, not 10 years. Things did move rather slowly back then. The church was mad over how Galileo used the information, after all he did virtually attack the church. I’m not trying to absolve the church, but Galileo wasn’t exactly a saint or undeservedly persecuted for his beliefs. People are messy, history is messy and nothing, or at least rarely ever, is so cut and dried.


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