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Re: Lambeth, General Convention, Resolutions....

Gentle John, <JGHart@aol.com>

I have shared your thoughtful post with the Integrity list, where a
similar discussion is raging.  I agree with you that we who love our
Church and our Lord must be willing to explore all options to preserve our
vitality, and I appreciate the care with which you have described the
tensions as we strive not to violate our integrity and not to make peace
with oppression.

I am willing to go anywhere and to network with anyone to find more
peaceable ways for us to live together through the tensions of faithfully
held yet opposing positions. 

I say that quite aware that lesbigay participation in discussions is one
of the main items many challenge.  I must in good conscience be suspicious
of new and sudden cries for time to talk from many who have until now
steadfastly refused to talk, preferring instead to pronounce anathema on
lesbians and gays. 

Nevertheless, I am ready to talk even in the most hostile settings.  "Have
asbestos.  Will travel": I have a completely new wardrobe from Shedrack,
Meshack, & Abednego, Inc. 

I have never been asked to speak or appear on a forum at a conservative
parish in ECUSA, and at precious few liberal ones. Yet I am invited more
than most lesbigays, and my presentations have almost always been
enthusiastically received.  Is that part of the problem?  Would we
lesbigays be more welcome if we lived down to the stereotypes?

Earlier abolitionists delighted to hear from runaway slaves.  Most modern
liberals prefer to talk for us, often communicating, even if
unintentionally, the perceived risk of encountering the real thing.

Joy anyway!  Thank you for your witness.  Serving with you through the
years, I have noticed that you wait before speaking, and that when you
speak, I should pay close attention.  I respect you immensely and value
your counsel.


===Your message:

>From JGHart@aol.com Wed Mar 17 07:53:43 1999
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:28:54 EST
From: JGHart@aol.com
To: epdionwk@andromeda.rutgers.edu
Subject: Lambeth, General Convention, Resolutions....

Dear Friends,
I wonder if I might raise a question or two about the General
Convention/sexuality exchanges which have been posted in the last week or so.

My sense of what happened, in part, at Lambeth is that a group which had
experienced itself as being marginalized and ignored succeeded in putting
together enough votes to pass a group of resolutions which were characterized
more by the clarity of their perspective than by their inclusivity of the
diversity of the conversation.  Those who  had agreed with the majority at the
outset declared victory after the vote and have sought to impose that decision
as normative for the entire Communion; many who were out of sympathy with the
resolutions have denied their authority and have felt great alienation from or
even violation by the Church which passed them.  My sense is that few people
on any side experienced anything like conversion, change of heart, or a
building up of the Body by this process.  

If at General Convention we simply seek to reverse our roles in this process
and emerge as the winners instead of the losers I wonder if we are seeking not
so much to dismantle oppressive structures as we are trying to turn them to
our own purpose.  Similarly, if we do nothing of substance and simply affirm
the status quo we fall considerably short of what we could and should do as
Christians.  I further wonder if the choice of those two options is a false

It seems to me that debating and voting on emotionally charged and
controversial issues does little actually to address how the Church feels (and
behaves) about these matters.  I think that we are at a place in our history
where we need to find a more effective means to effect real, deep change,
conversion and transformation rather than seeking to comandeer a methodology
which relies on conflict in conversation, winners and losers in decision
making, and the hierarchical imposition of whatever conclusion the majority of
votes decrees.  I have no instant solution to propose, but I wonder if the
Church has reached a point in its life when the legislative/governmental model
for making decisions has lost much of its usefulness.  Maybe I am too naive
and idealistic, but I wonder if we might come up with a better way to shape
our common identity than stylized trial by verbal combat and a brokering of
decisions by negotiated alliances.

I wonder if Newark might seek to be on the cutting edge of methodolgy as well
as content on some of these issues.  I wonder if we might find a way to offer
the Church a course of action which seeks not simply a legislative victory but
a wider transformation of the life of the whole body.  

The appearance of victory without the substance of transformation seems hollow
and self-deceptive, and, similarly, to do nothing for fear of the consequences
of confrontation is no better.  Put another way, I think we may be in a
situation where the only legislative victories are Pyrrhic, and not to engage
the matter is some combination of cowardly and unjust.

What would it take, I wonder, for us to recast the way we address the most
charged and divisive issues that we face in a way which might offer some hope
of progress and resolution rather than simply endless struggle, disaffection,
and bitterness.  It may well be that this is a situation in which our system
is not very good, but all the others are simply worse.  But before giving in
to that kind of "we've always done it that way" thinking (hardly our diocesan
image or tradition) I wonder if we might consider some new ways to be the

John Hartnett

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