Though my posting has not been as frequent as I'd like, this weekend I'll be in Memphis delivering a paper on George Herbert Mead's views on religion and community at the Midsouth Philosophy Conference so there won't be much activity until early next week. The paper focuses on the way in which figures such as Jesus broke down barriers and provided a basis for building wider forms of community.
Thinking of community, or the breakdown of it, a liberal congregation in the conservative Episcopal diocese of Pittsburgh is requesting alternative oversight from a liberal bishop, more amenable to the church. Such a move has been an all too common occurance with conservative churches seeking like minded bishops, but this is the first instance I've seen of it work the other way. The distintegration of the ECUSA and it's polity is moving full speed ahead.
And something which could tear up the Church of England is the return of heresy courts. It's a measure designed to stop "liberal clergy from diluting traditional teaching" in the church. Which is to say that if the clergy do not affirm a list of propositional statement such as a literal virgin birth you can expect them to face these courts. But shouldn't certain religious claims at least bear some relation to what we know of the world today?
And if the answer is affirmative, than some reconstruction in the way we think and use certain Christian symbols and doctrinal claims is in order, for anyone who seeks to responsibily navigate both the tradition and the world we know of today. Trying to use courts to stop this process treats religion as static as if our interactions with God has ceased. Ultimacy then is placed on particular forms of religious expression, the dangers of such a move ought to be apparent.
And Norman Kansfield a Reformed Church of America pastor and president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary was relieved of his post, after he blessed the same sex union of his own daughter. Apparently the process which follows will likely lead to formal charges at the denomination's general synod. As Chuck Currie notes this pastor "showed love for his daughter" and abided by "Jesus’ theology of the open table. His actions should be a model for all parents – and all Christians"
I suppose if there was a discussion of the differences between evangelicals and more liberal people of faith...it's over this issue of defining who is in and who is out. If the right could for a moment pause from the use of trials and courts and charges of heresy, the breakdown of the church might slow down a bit, maybe could begin listen to another, and imagine that somehow the other side has value, which God is working with, which we need to be attentive to. But the use of retribution needs to end if this is ever to happen.