Wednesday, 5 November 2008

And now

Voters watch the proceedings in Ralphie's Bar, Toledo, Ohio.

And now, the real work begins.


Right before the President Elect of the United States spoke to the American people tonight, I posted a short bit. My apologies if it seemed partisan. That could not have been further from my intent. Let me put my original bit in a little context.

We come from all walks of life in the United States. Rich and poor, and somewhere in between. White and black, native and new, Asian and European and African and Latino and more. Some of us are faithful to God, however we see God, and some of us are not. We range in political ideas left to right and up and down. We live in cities, and we live in the country. We value freedom, and the rights of others to be free. We live and we love, we are born and we die. We are many, united. E pluribus Unum.

We do not, however, always agree. And some of us are dead-wrong sometimes. We participated in the sale of human beings, and we denied them their human dignity long after their bodies left the marketplace. We cultivate a climate in our culture that says that ‘inconvenient’ children can be forgotten with a medical procedure, that criminals lives may be snuffed out, and that bystanders in lands where we fight are not worth the trouble of protection. We have started wars, and oppressed, at times, those in our world who are the weakest. We sometimes fail to remember that there are other people on this planet, and when confronted with the idea, hide and lash out. We are an insular people.

Collectively, we have also done much good. We did finally end the sale of human beings and their oppression through the shedding of much blood. We rallied with the world in defeating the scourge of Nazism, fascism, and imperialism. We educate our children collectively, and provide aid to billions of people in the world.

What we do together prospers; what we do alone fails.

While I am not an Anglican in any ecclesiastical sense of the world, I struggle with the same assaults with which my co-writers struggle. I understand the grief that is caused when some brothers and sisters ‘in arms’ betray their trust and their friendship. I sense the profound disconnect that seems at times immutable.

I struggle and sense and understand because what divides my Anglican friends divides the Church.

No matter what lines are drawn, someone will inevitably cross them, and institutionalize their crossing. Shrill cries of outrage are ignored, and sobbing is quickly muted.

What we have done in the United States is profound. We elected a black man to the most powerful position in our nation, and, some would say, in the world. That is not why he was elected, but the fact that it happened is extraordinary. Some people who voted in this election were denied the right to drink out of the same water fountain that I do only fifty years ago. So much progress has been made, yet it does not begin to atone for the sins committed by our hands against “The Other.”

The process was long and excruciating. It was also the most divisive that our nation has ever experienced. People have literally lost friendships over it. Terrible things were said and done. Sharply divided, we have no chance of moving forward.

Together, however, we can move on. Just like after THE SYNOD in the Church of England there were many hurt people. More importantly, there are people who were afraid, and still are.

Anglicans cannot move forward divided and scared. The hope of so many, like my co-writers, is to press on, no matter the bureaucratic proclamations. And this movement forward is best made with the cooperation of those who may not understand why women may not be ordained, or the liturgy personalized and laid out on a buffet to be selected at will. People who cooperate may not always agree, but they respect the personhood and dignity of the other enough to live peaceably and to live in disagreement.

So also is the state of affairs after the hard-fought election of our next President. Many have been wounded, but we cannot move on without cooperation and respect and healthy disagreement when necessary.

And as in all things, real change is ground up, not top down. Anglican Catholics cannot wring their hands and flit about crying “woe is me” and expect things to fall into place. No matter the climate or legislation, life must continue, the liturgy and the Gospel lives on, and Christ is still among us.

Do Americans and the world still face hard times? Of course, and they are bound to be harder. Are there still injustices and atrocities to be corrected? Foolishness says otherwise. If Senator McCain had won, his party and all of us would have had to struggle for the rights of innocent people worldwide who have been propelled into warfare and displacement. With the election of Senator Obama, our task moves inward: to the hearts and minds of those who have no concept of the dignity of life, whether in the womb or outside of it. Legislation must be fought or supported, but more importantly, hearts and minds and consciences must be affected by every one of us who know the dignity of every human soul, and each one’s infinite value before our God.

Anglican Catholics must move forward, and indeed there has been movement, and cooperation and respect and dialogue. So must Americans move forward, uniting, hand in hand, even with those with whom we do not necessarily agree, because the task before us is immense, as it would be no matter what the outcome of our election.

We move forward… in faith. And conscious of the task before us, we implore God to lend his strength and wisdom, and to be our balm in Gilead to heal our broken relationships.

If we wait for a mandate from on high, we fail. If we work together, respectful and mindful of our differences, but united in our love, we cannot lose.

May God be with us.

Pax et bonum.