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Hallo again to all.

An open BibleThe dominant story in Anglican news this week is the large conference that just ended in Pittsburgh. Sponsored by conservative US Episcopalians, its publicists told us that numerous bishops and primates from the 'Global South', including Africa and South America, were going to be there. Press reports tell us that various speakers at this conference thundered against the US Episcopal Church and urged its members to abandon it for a church with Global South affiliation, run with tighter controls by these educated men.

A phrase that we see in almost every statement from those who are making demands is 'the clear message of scripture'. Normally such statements use that phrase to explain that the Bible condemns homosexuality and that 'the clear message of scripture' is that the church must shun those who do not share that belief.

We've tried not to get directly involved in that argument, leaving to the experts the debates about which Biblical messages are clear, and which are more obscure or blurry. So do most people: we don't think we've ever heard an argument about homosexuality and scripture during coffee hour or at a church social event.

We've always envied those for whom scripture is clear, because every time we've re-read a section of the Bible we notice something that we hadn't noticed before, or understand something that we hadn't understood before. Clarity comes to us only with great difficulty and repeated study.

Two weeks ago we mentioned here that we didn't think that Jesus was entirely clear about who our neighbour might be, in his exhortation to love him as ourself. Two of last week's Letters to the Editor take us to task for not finding it clear, pointing out that Jesus was quite clear. One writer took the time to educate us on who and what a Samaritan was from the point of view of Jesus' audience when he said that. It is now somewhat more clear to us, and we are grateful for the history lesson we received.

Logo of the Good Sam ClubToday after church, during coffee hour, we asked a goodly number of people if they knew who or what a Samaritan was. The only person to mention Samaria or the Middle East was a young seminarian, studying to be a priest. Most said a Samaritan was a kind person who helps others, or was a member of a popular North American automobile club. One elderly man proudly withdrew from his wallet a membership card in that Good Sam Club, and said 'I am a Samaritan'. At that instant, we remembered John F Kennedy's famous speech at the Berlin Wall that he ended by saying (in German) 'I am a Berliner', causing some people to claim (incorrectly) that he had said 'I am a jelly doughnut'. Clarity is very difficult to achieve, especially in translation between languages.

We wish the best to those who are so unhappy with their church that they want to mutiny and take control, or leave it and start a new church. At the same time, we'll pay no mind to the occasional claim that we are sub-Christian or pagan because we feel no need to leave. Our clarity must indeed be different from theirs. We love them dearly, and want them to be happy. Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

See you next week.

All of us here at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 13 November 2005


A thin blue line
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