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    • Christian Responses to Gay Couples – Catholic and Other. September 16, 2014
      In two recent posts, Bondings 2.0 has reported on yet another two highly influential cardinals, Sean O’Malley of Boston and Claudio Hummes, retired archbishop of Sao Paolo, have demonstrated substantial sensitivity to LGBT concerns. These encouraging small steps to increasing openness…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
    • Defang the Serpent of Homophobia: Gaze on It. (Numbers 21:4-9) September 14, 2014
      In today’s Mass, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14th September), the first reading tells the story of the Israelites and the serpents during their wandering through the desert: On the way through the wilderness the people lost patience.…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
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    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
    • Email sent to my followers June 27, 2014
      Whew! It's time to catch my breath. Since the release of Queer Clergy in February, I've been on the road ... Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and California. I have been the guest of book clubs, adult forums, LGBT reconciling groups, the Pacific School of Religion, and I've been a guest preacher (always a treat for an old lawyer). I've mad […]
      Obie Holmen
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    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Fran)
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    • Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law (Part I) September 18, 2014
      My theologian friend Terry Dosh is downsizing his library and recently offered me a number of his books. One of the titles I accepted was Homosexuality and Civilization by Louis Crompton (pictured at right). Described by Q Syndicate columnist Richard Labonte as a "master work of interpretive scholarship," Homosexuality and Civilization is a readily […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Quote of the Day September 16, 2014
      The tragic story [of sixteen-year-old Sergio Urrego's suicide] is why it matters that discussions of Catholic families include discussions of gay Catholic families. And of Catholic families who have gay members.And of Catholic institutions whose coldness and brutality towards those who are gay can make a life-or-death difference, especially for vulnerab […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
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  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • Back from the "Dead"/Book Reviews September 13, 2014
      Just getting back on my feet after eight weeks of very intense interactions with Czech kids in summer camp in the mountains. The experience was so intense I felt cut off from my own spirit from time to time, but worth every minute.  What great kids.I'm getting ready to review two books, John Boyne's magnificent fictional treatment of the sex abuse […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
    • The travails of young love July 30, 2014
      On a bit of a hiatus from blogging for the summer as I recollect my spirit, but I may have some reflections to share this weekend about the difficulties of young love. Been listening to tales of heartbreak from some of my young students. And young River Viiperi has broken from his partner of two years, Paris Hilton, so these must be difficult days for him as […]
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    • プロミスの返済は残高スライド元利定額返済方式 September 11, 2014
      返済に影響するものは金利だけ、そう考えているのであれば今一度利用している消費者金融のホームページを確認してみましょう。実は返済方式も返済に大きく影響するものなのです。例えばプロミスで見てみましょう。返済方式として残高スライド元利定額返済方式が採用されています。これがどういったものなのか、金融専門書を確認しても出てくるものではありません。そもそも、本来であれば管理均等返済方式や元金均等返済方式というのが返済方式の中でも一般的なものですが、残高スライド元利定額返済方式とは新たにできた造語だからです。今では多くの消費者金融がこの返済方式を採用しています。プロミスではこれによって月々の返済の最低金額が決められています。例えば借り入れが2万7000円までであれば1000円の最低返済額、5万5000円までであれば2000円 […]
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    • Scottish independence: it isn’t about nationalism September 17, 2014
      Tomorrow the Scots will vote on whether Scotland should be independent of the UK or not. There have been mean-spirited assertions of nationalism against the independence movement. I find this criticism laughable given that those who are against Scottish independence support an empire upon which the sun once never set ...More Than Scottish Pride: Scotland’s r […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Applying the Principle of Conversion to the Universal Church

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.'” -Mark 1:14-15

Earlier this week, as Christians throughout the world concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity it is highly coincidental that last Sunday’s Gospel would highlight the themes of conversion and repentance. If anything else in the world should serve as evidence of the reality of sin, it would be hard to find a better example than the divisions and hostilities that have severed, and visibly divided, the mystical Body of Christ – which is the Church.

Pure arrogance coupled with a temporal desire for power and domination, drove fallible men to inflict these wounds upon the universal Church. The overreaching prerogatives that the Roman papacy adopted for itself gradually created a wedge between the Christian communities of the East and West which would eventually lead to the Great Schism – thereby creating the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church as they exist today.

A distinct church would be destined to spring up that would carry on forever the spirit of the sixteenth century reformer Martin Luther, whose ultimate desire was not to sever his own ties with the Catholic Church, but rather to influence its leaders to put an end to unbiblical practices; such as the selling of indulgences that promised those who purchased them eternal salvation or reprieved sentences in Purgatory.

The Anglican Communion has its roots in King Henry VIII’s dissatisfaction with the amount of power and sway the Bishop of Rome was allowed to have over his personal life. This would eventually drive him to eradicate ecclesiastical ties with Rome and establish the Church of England, which over the centuries has proven to be an inestimable contribution to the global People of God through its theology, collegiality, and even artistically, considering the many beautiful choral works of music that have been composed within the Anglican tradition. Although the events which led to its creation may seem political and trivial, the Church of England serves as a perpetual testament to the premise that our lives as humans are our own, and that no matter how much we may respect the spiritual authority of the prelates of our respective denominations, all of us must follow the dictates of our own consciences and refuse to allow popes, bishops, or pastors to carry out the faculty of cognitive rationalization on our behalf.

Since the Reformation, countless other Protestant denominations, each with legitimate grievances against the status quo or their own unique theological perspective, have been formed to serve as living testimonies and communities dedicated to the service of the Risen Christ. Unfortunately, Christendom today seems to be more divided now than ever before. A common celebration of the Eucharist is not even possible amongst numerous churches because the theological/ideological chasms are seen as being too great. Even more deplorable are the internal occasions of corruption and abuse (most notably the rampant phenomenon of the sexual violation of children within Catholicism) that continue to threaten Christianity’s credibility for the world at large.

How can Christians overcome such obstacles – internal and external – so that a more poignant and effective manifestation of Christ’s Body might be projected to the world?

The prescription of conversion and repentance given in Mark’s Gospel appears to be an apt remedy. However, applying such a formula is deeper than simply asking certain people to convert and plead for forgiveness of their transgressions. In his book The Heart of Christianity, renowned biblical scholar Marcus Borg examines how these themes were authentically understood in the Jewish culture of the time which shaped and cultivated the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.

When Jesus uses the word “repent” in the Gospels, most Christians immediately are filled with illusions of personal guilt and think of seeking forgiveness for one’s sins. While this is a correct interpretation of the word it does not embody the fullness that it originally possessed in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Jewish context, to repent means to return from a state of spiritual exile and ambiguity to a focused, committed relationship with God. In the New Testament, where the Gospels were written in Greek, a further depth of linguistic meaning is conveyed when this word is employed. To “go beyond the mind that you have acquired” is an additional flavor that is detected in the Greek composition of the word.  Therefore, a truly biblical understanding of the word “repent” means not just seeking God’s forgiveness but heartfully returning to God and adopting a new way of seeing to bring lasting and genuine fulfillment to one’s life.

If such an effort was done on a collective level by members of the Body of Christ throughout the world, particularly those in positions of ecclesiastical leadership, imagine the results that could be reaped. Within Catholicism, instead of simply window dressing a response to the clerical abuse crisis, why not craft standards that would have “real teeth” (as the Pope is fond of saying about other matters) in terms of preventing further outbreaks of such heinous acts – committed by those to whom the world’s most vulnerable members have been entrusted in confidence. Enacting a zero tolerance policy worldwide for any member of the clergy who is confronted with allegations of misconduct would prove to the world that the institutional church in Rome is truly committed to the welfare of innocent children rather than the upkeep of its colloquial facade in public opinion. Moreover, a powerful message could be conveyed by making it mandatory for bishops to relinquish their offices who were discovered to have either turned a blind eye to instances of abuse in their dioceses, or who shuttled perpetrators of such vile acts from parish to parish. Doing so would not preserve the status quo, but would instead definitively chart a sincere path into the future.

It goes without saying that such an approach would also engender re-evaluating the question of clerical celibacy (which has always been acknowledged to be a human creation) to allow members of the priesthood to marry as well as broaching the necessity of including the voices and input of women among the church’s leadership positions.

The same principle could be applied to the Anglican Communion as it continues to be divided geographically by the subject of homosexuality. Essentially, when the prospect of Christian unity is examined, nothing can ever conceivably be accomplished before various Christian bodies look within themselves and see what wrinkles, stains, or wounds are preventing them from moving toward full communion with other churches. Even if all Christian churches throughout the world fully tackled the issues which were inhibiting their communities from being credible witnesses to the Gospel of Christ, external, theological divisions would undoubtedly remain.

Even if this is the case, hope remains. During a service which took place to observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at my parish here in Baltimore, a Methodist pastor shared some thoughts of John Wesley’s that would prove enlightening and encouraging when attempting to make a greater cohesion of all Christians a reality instead of a longed-for hope:

“But even though a difference in opinions or modes of worship may prevent an entire external union, yet need it prevent our union in affection? Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without doubt, we may. In this all the children of God may unite, even though they retain these smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may help one another increase in love and in good works.”

Perhaps no one else’s words would prove more inspiring on this matter than those of Jesus of Nazareth, the humble Galilean peasant Whose passion for living and for spreading the Reign of God would give rise to countless bodies and institutions that would forever bear His name:

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.” -Mark 3: 25-27

Time will only tell how much longer those who call themselves followers of Jesus continue to consent to allow themselves to be spiritually tied, gagged, and held captive by the corruption and arrogance that continues to divide rather than unite the flock of Christ in a spirit of love, peace, and justice.

One Response

  1. Since John Paul II, the work, activity and power of the Holy Spirit has been transferred to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. JP II and B XVI and their bishop minions treat the Holy Spirit like a lap dog. They ignore the promptings and will of the Spirit at their own peril. We are seeing results of human attempts to confound and negate the Spirit…arrogance, corruption, willfulness, fear. The bishops believe themselves to be in charge. They are effectively denying the existence and power of God.

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