Wednesday, July 16, 2014

This Week in God

So, Monday was Weird News Day so far as organized religion went.

First off there was the interview in which the pope lamented that 2% of all Catholic priests are pedophiles. Given that there are over 400,000 priests worldwide, that works out to about EIGHT THOUSAND PEOPLE.

And when the story was published the Vatican denied,  not the main revelation of EIGHT THOUSAND PEDOPHILE PRIESTS,  but that anyone currently serving as Cardinal was included.

That's right. "currently serving". Not, say, recent or retired.

Great Googly Moogly.

Does this man not know how to lie?

I'm beginning to think that if anyone can save the church, it'll be this pope.

And then, as if that weren't enough, the Anglicans met in their General Synod and finally voted to allow women to serve as bishops. This is something that had been a long time coming, and bitterly fought every step of the way, until (v. like gay marriage) the opposition suddenly melted away. Just to see how lopsided the victory, the women-as-bishops measure got a 'yes' vote from

37 out of 40 bishops,
162 of 191 clergy, &
152 of 200 lay members

The first of these two links gives the numbers and puts things in a larger context (e.g., how it brings the English church more in line with the Episcopals). The second has a fascinating passage that almost slipped by without comment:

The conservative evangelical block, which holds that men must never be taught by women, was not entirely pacified by the promise that a male bishop would be appointed who shared their view that the "headship" of the church must be male. Their lay members voted consistently against, as they had done two years ago.
Although the influential conservative evangelical Philip Giddings announced early in the debate that he would vote in favour of the new legislation – there had been moves to unseat him from his post as chairman of the House of Laity after he voted against in 2012 – a number of speakers from his faction, many of them women, announced their continuing opposition and complained that they were marginalised for their convictions.

It's that final sentence that's the kicker: women who believe men ought not to listen to women complained bitterly that no one was listening to them.

The human mind is truly a fascinating thing.

And then finally there's the Presbyterians. I posted a few weeks back about the General Assembly's decision to allow gay marriages to be performed by pastors who wish to do so and also to divest from Israel. Now my mother has forwarded to me a little informational slip that was handed out to all church members in good standing letting them know the high points of what the Assembly decided at their big meeting. My friend Jeff loved the opening line ("Here we stand, so to speak"), which does have something quintessentially Presbyterian about it (what, did they not want to offend any of our sitting brothers and sister in the church?).

The divestment issue is treated in a paragraph: they make the odd distinction that although the Presbyterians are going to divest, we're explicitly NOT joining the Divestment or B.D.S. ('Boycott, Divest, & Sanctions') movement. That's a bit too fine a point for me.

The gay-marriage ruling has an interesting rider: a proposal to officially change the definition of marriage as between "a man and a woman" to instead "two people, traditionally a man and a woman". That part still needs to be ratified, by 87 out of 172 presbyteries. Be interesting to see how that plays out.

There were other issues as well: rejection of an anti-zionist pamphlet, an appeal for all Presbyterians 'to work to reduce gun violence by advocating for stricter background checks and a ban on semi-automatic weapons', a criticism regarding secrecy in drone strikes, rejection of a proposal to 'trim back references to Israel in liturgical materials' (???), and a rather sad note that 350 congregations had gone walkabout since the last General Assembly, most over the gay marriage thing, and with the new vote now 'more departures are expected' -- possibly including 17 of 54 affiliated overseas churches. They considered but rejected divestment from fossil fuels, 'choosing instead to explore relatd issues that might lead to action by a future assembly'

All in all, an interesting set of developments. And it's only mid-week . , , 

--John R.
current reading: THE MASK OF CIRCLE (Henry Kuttner, 1948)
J. D. SALINGER: A LIFE (by Paul Alexander, 1999)

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