Love, Anger, and Betrayal

Speaking at the Greenbelt Festival in the UK, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams "voiced his frustration about the "rawness of anger" he has seen in the disagreements over homosexuality that threaten to split the Anglican Communion, reports the Guardian.

It is not so much that we have disagreements in the church - that happens - it is more to do with how those disagreements are conducted ... while we may disagree, we need to learn how to do it with a bit more grace."

No matter where you stand on the issue of gay clerics or gay marriage, showing a little grace and civility are the least that Christians can do.

Still it's hard to be graceful when you've been stabbed in the back, and feel betrayed by people you trusted, as more conservative or small "o" orthodox Anglicans (and Methodists, Presbyterians, etc), feel in the debates over gay clerics or same sex blessings).

William Dinges, associate professor of religion at Catholic University of America, put it this way when I interviewed him for a piece on orthodoxy movements for US Catholic magazine.

"These more fundamentalist or radical conservative Christian movements are not simply a reaction against the world, nor are they driven solely by external events . . . . They are very much driven by a perception that the faith tradition is being subverted from within."

Williams remarks sound high minded and Christian--as do comments by J. Jon Bruno, the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles, who promised to reach out with "unconditional love" to more than 1,700 people at three parishes who are trying to split off from his diocese. (Since Bruno's promise was preceeded by a letter from his lawyer, telling those parishioners to vacate their buildings, his sincerity is in question.)

Can those high minded sentiments overcome the deep disaffection and betrayal felt by those who see Williams and Bruno as subverting the faith? I just don'tknow.


Chocolates, Comedy, and Church

It's not exactly hell and brimstone, signs and wonders or even loaves and fishes--but Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, thinks that chocolates, personal invitations and "a comedy video" might just woo worshipers back to the Church of England. ( It is fair trade chocolate, so that's something. )

The "Back to Church Sunday" program is aimed at people over 50 who wandered away from the church, according to the Telegraph.

The diocese cited new research that found that of the 20 million people aged 50 or over in Britain, half were estimated to have had an experience of the Christian worship through Sunday school or in later life.

Canon Roger Hill, the rector of St Ann's church, Manchester, said he was very enthusiastic about the scheme. "We come across dozens of people who say they have slipped out of the habit of going to church and want to come back. We have found that personal invitations are a very effective way to achieve this. The bar of chocolate just brings an extra element of pleasure."


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