Saturday, August 17, 2013

Really, Rowan?

Every day, I say a prayer in the daily office which is designed to keep my heart from growing cold and hard in the face of a world of people who mean to do me harm, or hurt people or things that I value.   This prayer is enormously helpful, and it has buoyed me up at many moments when I could have succumbed to anger and hatred.

I definitely needed it as I read this article in the Guardian about remarks from the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in regards to how he handled issues of human sexuality during his tenure.  In short, he didn't do squat, and, in fact, compounded problems for LGBT people in the Communion, especially Africa.  Dr. Williams was speaking at the Edinborough International Book Festival.  He talked about how people in the west overuse the word "persecution," and that Westeners have no idea about persecution in light of what happens to Christians in other parts of the world.  And then he got on to the topic of LGBT people in the church, and whether he had failed them as the Archbishop of Canterbury and titular head of the Anglican Communion:

“I know that is what a great many of my gay and lesbian friends would say that I did,” he said.

“I look back and I think, ‘at what point would it have been constructive to do something different that would have made a difference and take us forward?’, and I don’t know, it’s quite soon to say.

“It’s a slow fuse. The best thing I can say is that that is a question which I ask myself really rather a lot, and I don’t quite know the answer.”

I have an answer for his question: Yes, you did.  And the fact that you are still asking yourself a question which you cannot seem to answer tells me that you know, in your gut, that those things you did, and the things you left undone, damaged LGBT Anglicans, and betrayed Christ's commandment to love one another.   

I just want to say to the man: You ask, "at what point would it have been constructive to do something different?"  Perhaps at the point that Jeffrey John had been called to serve as a bishop in the Church of England, and instead of standing with your 'gay friend,' you retreated into the darkness of homophobia.

Or, perhaps at the point when the Episcopal Church in the United States consecrated Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire, you could have acknowledged the difficulties this was presenting and encouraged dialogue instead of backing an attempt to institutionalize discord through an Anglican Covenant.  Maybe it was at the point of the 2008 Lambeth Conference when you could have included Bishop Gene instead of intentionally, publicly, and stupidly, excluding him and thereby, by extension, excluded not only LGBT people but the entire diocese of my beloved native home state.

Perhaps it was at the point when the growing grumbling of the Global South, and the likes of Bishop Henri Orombi in Uganda, began fomenting discord in dioceses far beyond their own borders while tacitly approving local legislation in their own countries that called for the deaths of the likes of me.

Perhaps when Mary Glasspool was elected and consecrated a bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 2010, you could have used that as an opportunity  to respond differently, instead of issuing yet another warning about "grave consequences" because of that rogue Episcopal Church.  Or maybe you could have determined it was time to respond differently when David Kato of Sexual Minorities Uganda was brutually murdered after a newspaper published his picture and that of others, including former Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, and called for their executions.   If Kato's murder didn't spur you to the need to respond differently, then maybe the disrespect shown at Kato's funeral by the Anglican Church in Uganda could have been a signal that something was rotten in Africa.

Or, maybe, as your own Church of England woke up to the many problems with adopting an Anglican Covenant, you could have taken that as a sign that, perhaps, you were wrong.

Of course, all of this would require you to do some actual self-reflection that cannot be rationalized through an intellectual prism of when was the "right time" to start following the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Really, Dr. Rowan, the time when it would have been "most constructive" was the moment that you were enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury.  That's when you were called to be the leader of the Communion in a time of post-modernism and growing understanding of human sexuality.  You chose to let the wolves encircle the LGBT sheep.  You did not choose wisely.   Stop asking yourself questions to which you don't want a real answer.  Repent and seek forgiveness.  You'll get your answer then.


Phoebe McFarlin said...

I wish Rowan could 'read, mark and inwardly digest' this article. He would not only have his answer, but recognise his need for confession.

SCG said...

Agreed, and thank you!