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.

Conversation and the Intelligence of Groups

Apparently Smart People don’t make smart groups.

“What mattered instead was the social sensitivity of individual members, the proportion of women (who tend to be more sensitive) in each group, and a balanced participation of conversation.”

The New Scientist writes “Social sensitivity – measured using a test in which participants had to identify another person’s feelings by looking at photographs of their eyes – was by far the most important factor….”  Anita Woolley, the senior scientist also said, “What it suggests is that if you don’t know the social sensitivity of a group, it is a better bet to include females than not.”

In the Episcopal Church, The Rev. Eric Law started the Kaleidoscope Institute to examine and enable diversity in congregations.  His methods tried to ensure that there was greater participation in communities with different styles of communication.

One of the primary tasks of the parish priest is simply this:  to gather and talk.  It need not lead to action (although it may).  There are rules to this:  one person need not dominate the conversation; all should be able to speak equally and freely; people will pay attention to the dynamics of the group.

But this is not that easy.  Congregants may need to be trained and taught.  There is a discipline to maintaining a learning culture that harnesses the intelligence of a group, a discipline which is worthy for clerics to maintain and teach.

I also wonder if this explains problems in churches that are run only by men.