The Pope’s Remarks


Many people were probably politely surprised at the pope’s reticence toward judging gay people.  It did invite a stronger inquiry in the church’s formal perspective, and it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.  The church has a public doctrine that it  maintains; and then there is pastoral practice, one framed by a monosexual group of privately gay – tolerant men.

The Anglican Church prioritizes pastoral practice:  we begin our understanding with prayer and relationship (or, as ++Rowan once said, doctrine must begin with joy).  Our lens is primarily liturgical rather than doctrinal, which is why some Anglican theologians have said Anglican “doctrine” is in the rubrics:  in how we pray together.  This makes creates an enormous leap to even start talking about sexuality:  how do we pray that, anyway?

Some are a bit upset that Francis remains intractable about women’s ordination.  I think he was simply stating his current vantage point, while also inviting an opening for deeper thinking.  Those outside the church continue to be irritated, but I’m not always sure why people think being a priest is a good thing.  Priests remain ignored by their congregations on most important matters.  Garry Wills even argues it’s a failed vocation.

Nuns, by and large, do a lot of the heavy lifting in the church, and although they have little ecclesial power, their institutions matter equally, if not more so.  Sometimes being seemingly marginalized gives one greater power.

Francis could still appoint a female cardinal.

On Rick Warren and Uganda

Filed under Late than Never. Warren condemns the Ugandan Law.

There is a good reason people are confused: Warren is speaking to two audiences. First, his own. The homophobes. If he gets too liberal he loses credibility.

Second, non-homophobes who don’t trust him. He wants them to know he’s not an idiot.

Warren is a little different than other evangelicals: gay people are a second or third order issue. For most of the Christian right, homosexual fervor is a way of raising money. For him, his view of homosexuality is a code for “I still have moral authority.”

His own feelings are probably a bit conflicted. He’s committed to the traditional idea of marriage, yes, but he’s honestly not interested in killing gays. He has enough of a conscience to be offended by a law that executes gay people. If he were to change his mind, he’d probably lose 90% of his people. I’d be happy if he just gets them to be distracted by other issues where we can agree on, like climate change or female genital mutilation.

Could he be the person who opens up some space for safety among gays in Uganda? Warren is like a rock star there. His books are second only to the bible. He could pull it off. And I’d be happy if your average Ugandan gay could just not be killed. They listen to him because he’s an effective moral authority for them. Still, it comes at the expense of his desire to have authority here in the US as well.

Maddow, however, does expose Warren’s attempts to have it both ways. Still, the media might not let him. Remember – most of the media doesn’t understand religion as language: they see it as a series of intellectual propositions that have to calculate.

Father Jake discusses: The Ugandan Trade: Death Penalty for Conversion Clause