A day spent not thinking about insolence in Canterbury


By Tom Ehrich

I woke up this morning not caring one bit what Anglican primates were doing to make same-sex marriage go away.

I wanted only to pray -- for my loved ones, for my church, and for this sinful and broken world. I prayed for my pastor and the important work she is doing.

I wanted to reflect on Scripture, specifically Psalm 19, today the verse in which the psalmist asks God to protect him from the "insolent," that is, from the overbearing, rude and self-satisfied who think themselves called to hold others in contempt.

I was thinking especially about the snark-toters who spent the first days of this week deriding those who play the Powerball lottery. I could have been thinking about conservative Anglican bishops who consider themselves arbiters of God's preferences on sex. But I wasn't.

I have spent this day, as I spend many days, trying to help churches, writing about faith, and caring for my family. I didn't devote a single thought to the possibility that insolent bishops meeting in England would "suspend" the American Episcopal Church for not toeing their medieval line on sexuality.

Even after the deed has been done and my church declared unwelcome, I don't find the prospect of fractured communion has any meaning at all. The communion had no meaning. Why should its fracture have meaning?

This evening, sitting in front of a fire on a winter's day, I will write a poem. No topic in mind yet, but I can assure you I won't devote a fragment of a line to the bishop from Uganda who huffed out at Canterbury because his tender sensibilities about homosexuality hadn't been catered to.

I can assure him that we have more important matters at hand in our faith communities, such as hatred and bigotry in our national politics, corruption in our government, the very real possibility that a strange hybrid of fascism and oligarchy could be handed the keys to nuclear warfare, as well as control of the very freedom, hope, and rights that make us who we are. A bishop's opinion about marriage is as nothing.

When I go to bed, I will give thanks for a wonderful woman who joined her life to mine many years ago. Our union isn't about gender or, sad to say, the book of Leviticus. It is about what Jesus actually cared about, namely, self-sacrificial love.

Anglican primates are certainly free to don their vestments, puff up their chests, consider their assembly the very center of Christian witness, and scold those they consider wayward. I just know that my day proceeded well without them. So will tomorrow.

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