03 December 2008

'state of impaired communion'

that's how the bishop of fort worth, jack iker, recently described his association to women priests who are now, ostensibly, part of the same breakaway anglican province as iker himself. assuming that these women, dutiful members of the diocese of pittsburgh, actually do follow their bishop out of the episcopal church, they follow out of a desire to draw a line in the sand. i suppose i should pray for the motivation to pray for the charity to pray that women priests in this new province will be spared finding out how it feels to be an object of others' lines in the sand.

iker stated definitively that women priests would not be allowed to celebrate eucharist in his diocese -- nothing new for him or for fort worth, but interesting in light of the debate that led to the splinter province.

i hope that some of those who think of themselves as the "real" anglicans in our national (and ultimately global) denominational spat, will also to consider what it means to build a religious community whose theological touchstone is opposition to a particular bishop's sex life. how can this community know how to resolve its internal problems (of which women priests are only one), if its "principles" are just a long and contested list of actions and people that God, on someone's reading of something, opposes? it seems impoverished to me. but then again, common enemies are useful tools; maybe "ordaining Gene Robinson" will serve to smooth over the other irreconcilable differences for a while.

personally, i go back and forth over whether i feel as if losing these four dioceses, and some dozens of parishes throughout the country, makes me feel as if the episcopal church itself is in a 'state of impaired communion.' it's almost always a bad idea to say "good riddance," but i find it on the tip of my tongue recently. how can you convince people who have convinced themselves, already, that a church whose foundation is common prayer -- as explicitly opposed to doctrinal purity -- somehow "belongs to" the purity fetishists?