15 April 2012

intolerance of intolerance, a sad pardigm

One of the features of blogger is that it gives me an automatic count of the number of times my posts have been viewed. So I know I have only a handful of regular readers. None-the-less, I labor under the delusion that I have something to say, and so I type here.

I have, until this week, been proud of my parish because it had established and maintained a sister congregation relationship with the parish of St. John Melut and honored the sister diocese relationship between the diocese of Chicago and the diocese of Renk. No more.

The South Sudanese have seen fit to issue some comments about TEC that are less than kind. They do not approve of North American tolerance for homosexual clerics or same gender marriages. I certainly do not agree with the South Sudanese. But, the vestry uniquely, decided this disagreement is, "preaching hate." I think that is very unfair to the South Sudanese, and stunningly arrogant. Unlike the vestry, I respect two basic realities:

  1. The culture of South Sudan, where "bride price" still has meaning because women are property, is vastly different from ours.
  2. It is morally wrong to demand that someone agree with you before you help them. 

As my son Drew has observed: saying that you think the Bible prohibits lesbian and gay sexuality puts you in agreement with about 80% of the official views on the subject. The Church of England falls in the 80%. True, the majority of English subjects do not agree with their church, but its official view has not changed. This is not to the credit of Dr. Williams.

As Drew also observed: if we limit our aid to those who agree with us; we are limited to sending aid to Canada. And not even all of Canada!

None-the-less, an amazingly ill-advised decision to remove aid from the Episcopal Church in Sudan came down. Doing exactly what the uber-Calvinist right wing claims Episcopalians do, they pulled aid because they did not agree with the South Sudanese bishops.

This decision is essentially the same un-Christian conduct we progressive types have been faulting in Uganda where the bishops refuse to accept freely offered aid because it is "tainted" by the NA view on homosexuality. I am deeply, deeply ashamed that I voted for four of the nine whose votes approved of this evil.

It is a moral ill, to demand that agreement precede aid to those at risk of dying. The biblical conduct is visible in the Acts. Paul does not agree with Peter and James The issues are similar -- who can be a Christian? Peter and James want to say Jews or converts to Judaism. Paul says anyone who proclaims, "Jesus is Lord." In the face of potential rejection of his converts, Paul begs for help, gathers donations, and risks arrest to deliver them. Oh, he argues his case, but not until he has acted.

I stand with the historic church and Paul, proclaiming Peter and James were wrong. The South Sudanese are in error, but the vestry has made exactly the same error. It is wrong to say to the Sudanese as it is wrong for the Ugandans to say, "We will not minister to or with you unless we agree."

Shame on us! 137 years as a parish and now we dishonor our legacy, the Acts, indeed The Way. Shame!



Christal said...

"It is morally wrong to demand that someone agree with you before you help them" speaks very loudly to me, Dad. It is well-said, and quite true.

Sunday, 15 April, 2012

Leonard said...

I don´t know. I try my best to be lofty regarding tolerance and forgiveness but it often doesn´t check well against my understanding of pampering the abuser. My experience tells me that it isn´t healthy for me to pretend people/groups have better intentions or better morals than they really have...it´s not good for them to good unchallenged and it´s certainly not good for me to facilitate their ability to abuse me...codependent behavior is dangerous, cunning and twisted (especially if I start thinking I´m being ¨good¨). Only an opinion, it has little to do with you and your vestry but I also learned how to take the risk and say ¨no¨ a quite a long time ago.

Sue B. said...

I was so disappointed with the Vestry's decision. It really shouldn't be our call to second guess the needs of the people who actually there. They know best just what they need.

Where it is true that the South Sudanese have said some unkind things, and Bp. Danial Bull himself was the person who told me to my face when I asked him about our differences that their needs were so great that our differences shouldn't matter. His public comments have made things much more difficult, but their needs remain great enough for us to overlook their comments.

Our congregation made a promise and a commitment to help St. John's, Melut and to send them funds. We should stand behind that promise.

JCF said...

Hmmm, I'm ambivalent.

While I agree "It is morally wrong to demand that someone agree with you before you help them.", isn't it sometimes a question of who, EXACTLY, you help? Even given the South Sudan?

That is, isn't it possible to help S. Sudanese people in need, without handing the check directly to Sudanese bigwigs who dishonor the Imago Dei of those whom God made LGBT? Just my thoughts.

JimB said...

Leonardo, JCF,

Perhaps I should have mentioned that both ABp Bul and Bp. Joseph have visited here. I have had coffee with both the ABp and his lovely wife, cooked a deanery dinner (I am a rather decent cook married to a retired pro whose son manages restaurants,) and spent time with Bp. Joseph.

These men are honorable pastors trying to keep their people alive and functioning in the face of relentless violent pressure from the racist, Islamic dictatorship in the North.

We cannot teach tolerance to corpses. The North Sudanese are intent on killing or forcing the blacks out of the country.

And the money is not going to the bigwings. It builds water tanks, clinics and pays the salary of the working priests in Melut. If it was making ABp Bul rich, my view would be a bit different. That is not what we do.

I think the vestry action was tone deaf at best, and at worst imposed their 21st century politics on a people struggling to come near that era. Jesus did not ask the people he cured to believe in his views, only to be sick and seek aid. That I think is the relevant standard.

In any case, thanks for the thoughts. I do understand the difficulty. I find the hob resolutions coming from Jabba very distressing. Yet, I do not read, "feed the hungry, heal the sick and visit the imprisoned who agree with you" anywhere in our instructions.

Thanks to all.



Wormwood's Doxy said...

Yet, I do not read, "feed the hungry, heal the sick and visit the imprisoned who agree with you" anywhere in our instructions.

I agree with you...

And yet I want to ask...do you see some kind of virtue in deliberately choosing to help those who disagree with you?

JimB said...

I do not necessarily see such a virtue. But again, this is a long standing relationship we are choosing to rupture. Nothing much has changed in the attitude of the South Sudanese over the last few months. The only difference is that as they try to balance the political realities in Africa they have been a bit less quiet.

We are supposed to love our enemies, not judge our friends. It is a rather simple idea. ;;sigh;;


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