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COLONIZERS?

In both the House of Bishops Statement to the Primates and a statement of support issued by the senior Elder of the Metropolitan Community Church the charge of being Colonizers has been laid upon the Church of England one supposes, or maybe even the Primates themselves. I am amazed that we haven’t heard protests from our Native American leaders and African American leaders. Who is calling the kettle black? At the end of the American Revolution the leadership of New World Colonialism shifted from Westminster to Philadelphia and later to Washington. Despite the new Nation’s rhetoric it did nothing about slavery and continued it journey westward depriving more and more of the land’s original owners of their property and their means of living. Long after the slaves had been emancipated, after a fashion, Native Americans were still being “colonized” and pushed into reservations which even today are places of disgrace and sorrow. Disgrace for us and sorrow for Native Americans.

When America was creating itself, and colonizing and enslaving more and more, people like Clarkson and Wilberforce were working actively and relentlessly to end the slave trade. While Southern Episcopalians, blessed by their bishops, possessed human beings as objects and property, Wilberforce, an Evangelical Anglican, achieved his life’s passion by seeing the slave trade not only abolished but slavery itself sent to hell. Anglican Evangelicals like Shaftesbury, worked to abolish child labor and to provide decent housing for the poor long before this happened in the United States.

Now this in no ways frees Britain of its Imperial misdoings, or some of them, but let us not forget that the United States was acquiring its own Imperial property when it annexed Hawaii and conquered the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa, Puerto Rico and our church’s complicity as it created its own mini-Communion out of Manifest Destiny. Our new title, “The Episcopal Church” is regarded by many as yet another isgn of American insensitivity. There are, after all, a number of Provinces which call themselves “Episcopal”

Our House of Bishops should do some collective racist training and for a start apologize deeply to our Black, Hispanic and Native American leadership for the insensitive words they wrote in the context of their reply to the Primates. One doubts whether the Primates are as ignorant of US History as our bishops seem to be.

As one reads the House of Bishops’ response to the Primates one becomes vividly aware of their apparent ignorance of the history, and thus the theology and spirituality of Anglicanism in its classical period, a period which extended in our own seminaries long after independence. If one were to hand each of our bishops a copy of one of Henry McAdoo’s wonderful books on that period, one could bet that most of the contents would be dismissed because the people who thought Anglican thoughts, and prayed Anglican prayers were racists and anti-feminists. There is no history because our saints and divines, whom ironically we still commemorate in Lesser Feasts and Fasts, have been found guilty of not embracing our contemporary wisdom. Having imposed upon Jewel and Hooker, Donne and Andrewes, Herbert and Cosin, Taylor and Hammond, even Stillingfleet and Law, the Wesleys and High Church people like our own Hobart and the Evangelical Chase who between them rescued TEC from extinction, the sentence of death, we are free to use or not use their words or rather to send them to a newly created Limbo; The Historical Documents section of our faith and life. Let us not forget the Anglo Catholic Movement, born in Oxford, whose thoughts soinfluenced our present BCP.

Yet the Primates are obviously not so ignorant of our tradition and spirituality. It is for that reason that our bishops’ Statement has been received with such embarrassment abroad. One hopes that the Theological Commission of the House of Bishops is putting together literature which will objectively address our past, the Reformation, the majoritarian delight of early Episcopalians to proclaim as their sign of authenticity their unity with the Church of England, their part in forming the Anglican Communion, the wish of many American bishops to have Archbishop Longley titled “Patriarch” and for a pan-Anglican Synod with pan-Anglican authority. Perhaps the Theological Commission might give some teaching about ecclesiology, what the church is and where local autonomy fits into the New Testament concepts about the Body of Christ, But of course, I Corinthian 12 was written by Mr. Paul, who was an anti-feminist. One can’t take notice of him, he was a gay basher.

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I’ve been very ill and was unable to be at any services over Holy Week, or for the first time in my priestly ministry, to celebrate on Easter Day. I had a severe reaction to the pain pills prescribed, which turned me into more of a burbling idiot than before. I am now learning to walk again, with a great deal of success. I’m taking a drug weekly, designed to help women with brittle bones. I have a chemo session tomorrow.

One Response

  1. Just popping in not to comment on what lies immediately in front of me but send you prayers for healing and commiserating that you were not able to preside at anything during Holy Week and Easter… what a difficult moment for a long-time priest. Lee

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