Monday, July 07, 2008

"All the world's a stage . . .

This is part of a post from Elisabeth Kaeton a wonderful priest in the Episcopal Church:

"All the world's a stage . . .
from Telling Secrets by Elizabeth Kaeton

. . . and all this day, we've have front row center to the drama in the Church of England, meeting in Synod, to determine whether or not women can be ordained to the episcopacy."

First of all, I want to be clear that these remarks are my own on my own personal blog. I am not speaking in my official capacity as President of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus.

It’s not that I suspect my sisters and brothers on the board would disagree with me. It’s just that we haven’t had a chance, just yet, to discuss it as a community of leaders. We’ll do that later this evening in our monthly Board Conference Call.

I have been closely following the Church of England Synod debate over the ‘election’ of women to the episcopacy.

They have already agreed with the idea of women bishops.

Now, they are to vote on how to “accommodate” the minority who do not accept the idea or the presence of women in the episcopacy. By the time this is posted, the final vote may have already been taken.

Ruth Gledhill has been ‘live blogging’ here.

Thinking Anglicans is also updating here.

I know. You thought that was a done deal. Yes, they do ‘allow’ women to be ordained to the diaconate. Yes, for the past 15 years women have been ‘allowed’ to be ordained to the priesthood. But, for the past 15 years, women have not been allowed, in the Church of England, to be ‘appointed’ bishops.

Yes, that’s right. One is ‘appointed’ to the episcopacy in England, not elected in a diocese by clergy and laity as is our custom in The Episcopal Church. Which may be part of the problem.

No. Check that. Here’s the problem. It’s as old as the story of the Adam and Eve. It’s the ‘original sin’ of Paradise: sexism. You know: It's all Eve's fault.

It’s no surprise to me that the two issues confronting the church are the ordination of LGBT people and the last crack in the stained glass ceiling for women. Suzanne Pharr wrote about it in 1988 in her book, “Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism.”

Yes, you got that right. 1988. I discovered it shortly after I got home from the last Lambeth Conference in 1988 where eleven bishops who are women were in attendance.

I have a very clear memory of the day that Lambeth Resolution which said that homosexuality was incompatible with scripture. The coalition of conservative American bishops and their Global South partners emerged from the meeting hall shouting, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y”.

It was like being at a tail-gate party. The testosterone level was that high.

The American progressive bishops emerged looking like Bambi-in-the-headlights. I remember Martin Smith, then head of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) who attended there with Bishop Tom Shaw (as both men were celibate monks, Martin joked that he was Tom’s “his most chaste spouse”), said that the images from Lambeth were, for him, like undeveloped film that would need to spend some time being soaked in baptismal water before any clarity emerged.

It’s hasn’t been that long since the entire process of picture-taking has been revolutionized by the technology of computer digitalization, but I think we used to call undeveloped film “negatives.” Right.

It didn’t take long for the negatives to emerge with greater clarity than anyone expected.

The very next day, the good bishops and primates came after women, passing a resolution which stated, “there is and should be no compulsion on any bishop in matters concerning the ordination or licensing” of women.

The resolution, entitled, “Unity of the Anglican Communion” was hammered out in private meetings between some women bishops and traditionalists and passed by 80%.

I know. It broke my heart when it didn’t blow my mind. And, it went downhill from there. I don’t know who wrote the prayer, but I remember praying the part about “help us from oppressing others or from participating in our own oppression.”

Suzanne Pharr defines patriarchy as “an enforced belief in male dominance and control”. She says patriarchy is the ideology and sexism the system that holds it in place.

Pharr further states: “The catechism goes like this:

Q: Who do gender roles serve?
A: Men and the women who seek power from them.

Q: Who suffers from gender roles?
A: Women most completely and men in part.

Q; How are gender roles maintained?
A: By the weapons of sexism: economics, violence and homophobia.”

Most of this catechism was written in the crucible of domestic violence where these three weapons were seen most clearly.

Pharr writes: “The stories of women battered by men, victims of sexism at its worst, show these three forces converging again and again.

read the rest of it here.

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