Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why Listening Matters

I think these two posts from two different TEC bishops’ Lambeth blogs speak to the importance of respectful dialogue, and of what can happen when we actually open our hearts to God and to one another, and what happens when we don’t.

When we do, from Bishop Neff Powell of Southwestern Virginia.
The Bible study group went very well as we began to discuss the matter of Gene Robinson and homosexuals in the Episcopal Church. The presenting issue for us was how this issue affects our efforts in evangelism. The African bishops said that in Muslim majority countries, openness to homosexuality made evangelism more difficult. I pointed out that in some places in our culture, especially with those under age 35, it was rather the other way around. I think, I think we heard each other.

When we don’t, from Bishop Pierre Whalon of our churches in Europe.

This got us deeply into the issue of the Sudanese statement concerning The Episcopal Church [calling for +Gene’s resignation]. As a lot of TEC dioceses have strongly supported the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, there were hurt feelings among the bishops and spouses. There is a Sudanese bishop in my Bible study, as well as three Tanzanians and three Barundis. I pointed out that while the Sudanese bishops have every right to tell us what they believe, it was done in such a way that we could not hear it, namely because they had not addressed us directly, but through releases and a press conference.

Links courtesy Episcopal CafĂ©’s The Lead.


Leonardo Ricardo said...

I'll try and not scream out...what I've noticed, my whole life, is that some heterosexual(?) people constantly speak about LGBT Christians as if we are not present (and standing right next to them)...Bishop Bul is's because (mostly), I believe, they don't THINK about other people, other sensitivities or even take a moment out of the "prerecorded slander" to respect the quality character in the lives of others before making sweeping statements...sweeping utterances THEY THINK are acceptable and will somehow earn them "points" with God, or people, approval, or even for personal gain (prestige, popularity, validation or otherwise)...only a opinion...I think this is the opposite of what religious people who have been graced with clarity are challenged to do when SERVING others.

Nathan Empsall said...

There is a reason they "think" these utterances will earn them points with God - they really do believe, for various reasons (twisted interpretations of Scripture, fear, etc.) that homosexuality is evil. This may or may not be true of Americans like Bp Duncan or Pres. Bush, but I think it is true for the Den Buls and Orombis. These erroneous misconceptions they hold are often shattered or changed when they meet, and get to know, homosexuals in a constant and personal way. Unfortunately, that rarely happens in some of these provinces because of the way homosexuals are treated by the culture, Christian and otherwise, at large. They are persecuted, tortured, killed, and so do not come forth, and thus no one gets to know them as they trule are and no misconceptions are changed. It's a vicious circle.

My point is, because the LGBT folks in Nigeria, Uganda, etc. have such a hard time stepping forth, maybe these primates really don't know they are there, and that is why they speak of them as if they are not in the room. Den Bul, like the President of Iran, did say there are no homosexuals in his country.

+Gene Robinson faces pain and pressure, but not of the type a Nigerian citizen faces. Perhaps some of the conservative bishops will get to know him in ways they can't get to know their own gay countrymen, and he can do what those countrymen are currently not in a position to accomplish. One can only pray.