Archive for August, 2014

Predictable

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The Nominating Committee charged with selecting candidates for the election of a Presiding Bishop next summer has just issued its list of qualities desired in their ideal candidate.

Like the secular political scene, the Episcopal Church arena is filled with predictable statements. Is anyone surprised that the committee wants a Presiding Bishop who has an “authentic” spiritual life–as opposed to inauthentic? Is anyone surprised that the new PB will love diversity and want to make us even more diverse? (My own prediction is that the next PB will be a person of color–the first. My choice right now would be the Bishop of North Carolina.)

Of course, as I noted in a previous post, if the current PB decides to run for a second term, all bets are off. Given the current gentility of the House of Bishops, it’s doubtful anyone would dare to run against her.

Meanwhile, membership in the church continues to decline and the only contribution the national bureaucracy seems to make to the life of the church is a steady stream of predictable pronouncements on selected political issues. —J. Douglas Ousley


Pacifism Bombs

Monday, August 11th, 2014

I was once a card-carrying member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, and I still have considerable sympathy for the pacifist position as represented, for example, by the Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas. Seeking peace was incontrovertibly essential to Christ’s concept of the Kingdom of God.

The problem is that the real world in which we Christians live seems to be getting more and more violent. It’s hard to see in some cases how we as a nation can help our unfortunate fellow men and women without using the violent means at our disposal. Letting fellow Christians be slaughtered because we would have to take up arms to help them seems to be as passive as it would be pacifist. It would seem to be a shirking of our responsibility to care for the least of our brethren.

I don’t know if the Episcopal Peace Fellowship even exists any more, so little is it in the news. And while I recognize the need for military action against oppression and terrorism, the decline of the pacifist position is sad. —J. Douglas Ousley


For Christ’s Sake

Monday, August 4th, 2014

In the midst of all the horrendous world-political news, there is an unprecedented amount of Christian suffering. Christians have been slaughtered or kidnapped in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria; they have been expelled from parts of Iraq; and they are under assault in many other countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

It is not clear how American foreign policy should be shaped by these tragedies, but it is clear that Christians everywhere else should be up in spiritual arms. Yet while American Muslim groups, for example, respond vigorously to the slightest attack on Islam, American churches seem resigned to the global persecution of their Christian brothers and sisters.

It is also not clear, however, what we can do in individual cases to help them. At the very least, though, we can remember the suffering church in our corporate prayer and in our daily prayer, for Christ’s sake. —J. Douglas Ousley