Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: The Lies We All Tell

I have to agree with the Episcopal conservatives here (though of course for different reasons) who called…[the House of Bishops Statement in New Orleans] a “legal fiction.”

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

11 comments on “Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: The Lies We All Tell

  1. Craig Goodrich says:

    An interesting piece. Ms Th, though, characteristically for progressives, seems to regard any gap between teaching an practice as a form of lying or hypocrisy, not understanding the fundamental idea that the Christian ideal of perfection must always be taught by humans mired in sin.

    She also notes that

    Gene … is one of the most spiritually luminous people you will ever meet.

    Well, perhaps, and perhaps this is indeed due to Him who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Light,” as she implies. On the other hand, though, there are other well-known glowing sources, such as (taking purely random examples) Hiroshima and Hell.

  2. Rob Eaton+ says:

    “spiritually luminous”, as in, saintly with a nimbus?

    Otherwise, there are a few religious traditions that speak of lumination. I’m sorry, but this sounds like a trust in phenomenology without the testing and discerning of spirits, that the Bible teaches is necessary. For Christians, when the “air is thin” we don’t simply accept all that appears to be beautiful because we know that beauty is fleeting, and there is a battle of intentional deception – especially where the “air is thin.” At the same time, when this kind of intentional deception is rampant, Christians also are perked up to witness the glory of God, His countenance revealed, in and through others. And we cry, “Away from me, Lucifer!” and we cry “Come (more!) Holy Spirit!”
    Sometimes the one comes first to our awareness, sometimes the Other. But one should never presume “holy” simply because something spiritual has taken place. That would simply be too easy and too naive. Spiritualistic bennies without full comprehension of the power of God (and the abused power by others).
    Comfort, comfort, comfort without risk, risk, risk.
    The Collect for Fridays comes to mind.


  3. Philip Snyder says:

    [blockquote] If you know Gene, and I do, you will quickly realize he is one of the most spiritually luminous people you will ever meet.[/blockquote] Susan Brooks Thistlewaite

    As Screwtape reminds Wormwood, one of the deceptions of the devil is the ability to appear as an angel of light. I do not meant to equate Bishop Robinson with the Devil or even with demonic spirits or other “evil” things. I am sure he is doing the best he knows how. But we must remember that “Spiritual Luminosity” is not, by itself, proof of holiness.

    What I see missing in Bishop Robinson (and too many other Christians) is that self-emptying that is Christ’s example. Every interveiw I’ve read with Bishop Robinson seems to begin with a disclaimer that he doesn’t want to be known as the “Gay Bishop” and then spends all his time being the “Gay Bishop.”

    Phil Snyder

  4. Nikolaus says:

    [blockquote]Ms Th, though, characteristically for progressives, seems to regard any gap between teaching and practice as a form of lying or hypocrisy[/blockquote]

    Such gaps are “hypocracy” if conservatives are invloved. But when it’s liberals they are just “holding things in tension.”

  5. Charming Billy says:

    I don’t want stir things up, but I’m sure this post will offend some.
    I’ve never met him, but I’ve just read about VRG’s spiritual luminosity; and Tobias Haller has recently described VGR’s “superb personal qualities” here:
    So, OK. I’ll take their word for it VGR is a nice guy. He must have guts and integrity, too.
    But can anyone show me something he has said or written that substantially advances the reappraising case for gay rights? Anything that sincerely and seriously addresses the scriptural and theological difficulties of the reappraising position?
    I’m sincerely asking this of the reappraisers here. One of the greatest reservations I have about VGR’s ordination is that, frankly, if the Holy Spirit really wanted there to be a gay bishop, he would’ve picked a more impressive teacher and preacher. That’s not just another ad hominem slam against VGR. That’s really is one of my biggest problems with the reappraising case. VGR just doesn’t seem prophetic, or even convincing, to me when he’s trying to explain or justify the reappraising the position.

  6. Fred says:

    Hey Charming Billy –
    I’ve got news for you. The Holy Spirit has picked other gay bishops. The reason you don’t know about them is because they were not willing to allow themselves to be crucified like you’ve done to Bishop Robinson (see comparisons to the devil above, as just one tiny case in point). No, they have chosen to stay quietly in the closet and frankly, I don’t blame them. As for what he does to advance “the reappraising case for gay rights”, he exists, a child of God, loved by God and who loves you no matter what you say about him. That’s enough for the Holy Spirit. It should be enough for you too!

  7. Philip Snyder says:

    I don’t care what +Robinson does to advance Gay Rights. I care what he is doing that is splitting the Church of God. I don’t care how much God loves him (and I know that God loves him). I care how much he loves God. Remember, Jesus said “if you love me you will keep my commandments.” +Robinson, by his actions and willingness to split the Church of God is showing that he does not love God enough to sacrafice either his sexual activity or his position as a bishop to save the Church of God from schism.

    Phil Snyder

  8. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “. . . (see comparisons to the devil above, as just one tiny case in point).”

    But . . . But . . . But, but . . . I thought that we are merely modeling after our Beloved Former Leader who exemplified such graciousness regarding the works and the workers of “the devil”.

    StandFirm even helpfully visualized his comments for all of us:

  9. carl says:

    [blockquote]What happens when people and societies lie about important things like the diversity of human gender preference? Well, one of the things that may happen is that some people so deny their own sexual orientation that they end up playing footsie in a Minneapolis bathroom instead of leading a healthy, self-aware life.[/blockquote]

    This line gets more and more play. The indefensible aspects of homosexual life are attributed to some manner of oppression. “If only they were accepted, they would settle down into healthy, self-aware monogamy.” No justification is offered for this assertion. And none ever will be. It is a convenient fiction which allows the speaker to avert his eyes from ugly truth. But the bath houses in SF can’t be explained by oppression.


  10. Robert A. says:

    Fred: The Acts of the Apostles indicate a very precise mechanism for recognizing the presence of the Holy Spirit. Scripture makes it clear that His gifts are not given to any one individual, and His purpose can only by deduced when two or three are gathered together. So since you claim to know His will, please give us the precise date, time and location of your revelation, and the names of the witnesses that substantiated what you heard.

    And, no, I am not being sarcastic. I would just like to hear someone, ANYONE, in TEC’s prophetic church produce what ought to be the minimum requirement for expecting us to believe what they claim the Spirit is saying.

  11. Charming Billy says:

    Hey Fred,

    What I find problematic is the reappraising belief that the Holy Spirit acted in VGR’s consecration, not VGR’s character as such.

    Let’s set aside the question of whether the Holy Spirit acted in the ordination of the other bishops whom you believe to be gay. That’s even more difficult to substantiate than the question of the role of the Spirit in VGR’s ordination.

    I find it difficult to accept that VRG’s ordination was the work of the Spirit because first of all, it is clear to me that his sexual life is in clear contradiction to biblical teachings and Christian doctrine; and second because neither he or the body that ordained him can or will articulate a theological and scriptural rationale that the Church finds convincing.

    Ironically, the best case for VGR’s “inclusion” I’ve seen so far is found in ++Rowan’s writings. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you …

    Shortly after VGR’s ordination, my attitude was one of cautious acceptance. I assumed that both VGR and TEC were aware of the seriousness of what they had done and would seriously address whatever reservations I had and the wider Christian community had. I began to move to a more skeptical position when it became clear that TEC and VGR weren’t even aware enough to acknowledge, much less justify, this innovation. Consequently, I was forced to think through the issue myself and have concluded that VGR’s ordination was improper.

    I have looked for serious discussion of VGR’s consecration from the reappraising side, but in most cases I’ve found that both VGR and his supporters have consistently redirected serious theological discussion of the propriety of his ordination to ad hominem matters, such as VGR’s personal charisms of luminosity and niceness; or, in your case, to the personal failings of critics who have “crucified” VGR in voicing reservations about his fitness to be bishop. When these ad hominem replies fail, discussion is invariably redirected toward abstract, secular conceptions of justice and rights that have limited applicability to the matter at hand.

    If VGR were meant by the Holy Spirit to be bishop, I think he and his supporters should be able to do a better job than this.