Concluding thoughts – or, now what?!

The book is finished. Our planned discussion times completed. We liked the book. We said we would leave it around for others to read – and intentionally pass it on to some who could benefit from it. We especially liked chapter 2, and the discussion about the Biblical passages and arguments. We loved that the whole thing was so easy to read and so accessible.

And then we wondered – now what? This issue matters. So many people have been so badly hurt by the Church on this issue, personally rejected and vilified.

We traded stories of feeling like the only Christianity that gets heard and seen is one that is all about rules and judgement, a faith that is rigid and seems to have very little to do with the messy business of loving our neighbour as ourself. We want the mainline churches, the faith we follow, to be louder; to include and be tolerant – but in a more obvious and overt manner!

And in the course of conversation, two possibilities emerged –

  1. Could we have a poster campaign?! (Might this even be a national church project?) Posters of people, with the caption “This is what a Christian/Anglican looks like”, with a quote or caption “Pro-gay”, or”Pro-choice”, or some such thing… and borrowing a little from the “This is what a feminist looks like” campaigns.
  2. A more local and immediate project (we are looking at you St Bede’s folks!) – during exams, use sidewalk chalks and write quotes/scripture passages all over campus. Quotes like “Judge not, lest ye be judged” or “If one of you says, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”, or “St. Therese of Lisieux “I choose all”, or Meister Eckhert “We are all called to be mothers of G-d, because G-d is always needing to be born”, or…Well, you get the idea!

What do you think? Want to be part of this? Got other suggestions?!

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Chapters 4 & 5 – the end of the book!

Oh my goodness – tomorrow is our last time to meet to discuss Epiphany! We will look at the final two chapters, 4:”The Future” and 5:”Last Words”. Well, chapter 5 isn’t really a full chapter…

Anyway, Coren argues in chapter 4 that a large part of the reluctance from mainline churches in North America and Europe to proceed with the acceptance of same-sex marriages, stems from the sense of being a global church. This is very true for Anglicans and Episcopalians in Canada and the US. The movement within our global Anglican communion to prevent same-sex marriages gaining acceptance and approval seems often to stem primarily from Africa and from a homophobia that exists in there. Coren points out that much of that is a result of colonialism, and that this continues to be a factor through funding from American evangelicals.

BUT there are cracks even within the American evangelical movement. Coren is not alone in arguing that a generational shift is coming, and for most millennials, this isn’t even an issue worth debating.

Coren argues convincingly that there is a myth of right-wing Christians being persecuted (no longer having sole access to a voice and funding , having to be ‘one of’ many denominations and approaches, does not necessarily equate to persecution!) And once again, Coren points out that Jesus seems to be unequivocally anti-divorce, and yet evangelicals speak of divorce as simply something that is ‘regretful’ versus an ‘abomination’.

So questions that arise from chapter 4:

  • How much of Anglican (and other mainline denominations) reluctance to proceed is based on the sense of splitting apart the global church? How much are conservatives also a strong voice within our more local and national context? Conservative voices are much louder – does that fool us into thinking there are more of them?
  • The issue of the ordination of women is not agreed to by all members of the global Anglican communion. Why can the issue of same-sex marriage not also be something where we ‘agree to disagree’?
  • Do you agree this is a generational issue?
  • Is it hard to admit to being Christian in our society? Is that because of anti-faith sentiments – or because Christianity is so often equated with conservative attitudes?

In chapter 5, Coren puts forward his claim that there are no non-religious arguments remaining against same-sex marriage. The only opposition seems to be faith-based. He then pushes – the church needs to repent and to rejoice in love.

Questions from chapter 5:

  • Are there really no non-religious arguments? Is that because everyone else has ‘seen the light’ – or because the stalwarts have joined the conservative branches of the church where there is support for such a position?!
  • The church is notorious for moving slowly, sometimes with good reason. Can the church move too slowly? Is moving slowly always a sign of being cautious around the weighty matters of doctrine, or is it simply institutional inertia?

Looking forward to a good closing discussion at 12 noon tomorrow in the Ministry Centre!