Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori continues to be the Episcopal Church's best ambassador to the wider culture. Watch her appearance Friday night on Bill Moyers Journal. Or read the transcript.
(Read here a timeline detailing the more than thirty years of conversation, teaching, struggle and action as the Episcopal Church struggles to fully include faithful gay and lesbian Christians into our common life.)
Time magazine's David Van Biema and Catharine Mayer have written a cover story on the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams. It appears in this week's European and South Pacific editions. The article will likely become the one piece that readers new to the turmoil in the Angican Communion will want to read for a quick, but fairly comprehensive grasp on the situation. It is followed by an in-depth interview that will probably be of more interest to Communion watchers in which Williams spells out his reasons for inviting neither Bishops Gene Robinson nor Martyn Minns to the Lambeth Conference. Listen to a fuller version of the interview here.
Hat tip to Episcopal Cafe: The Lead for these connections.
Having watched/listened to both of these interviews there are serveral things that stand out. First, both our Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop sound similar notes--images of conversation, listening, communion abound in both their talks. Second, they seem to share both a global and comprehensive perspective. They are both calm, reasoned, and bring an academic sensibility and discipline to their roles.
Which makes their different approaches all the more apparent. Both the Jefferts Schori and Williams understand the various perspectives of the differing sides, and both want deeply to keep all the various groups in the Communion. Yet, Williams has decided that his teaching role as the Archbishop of Canterbury is limited to only what the entire church can agree on--that while he has not recanted his previous writings about human sexuality and the role of glbt folk in the church and the church's responsibility to gay and lesbian folks--he has decided to put them aside because he says he must articulate the tradition of the whole church first and his own views second.
Jefferts Schori, on the other hand, has taken a different approach to the teaching role of the Primate, and that is to hold up the questions and to encourage the discussion. In the Moyers interview, she answers those who would hold up the seven passages of scripture with questions as to context and audience and then poses a new question: in looking at the relationship of David and Jonathan, what would the best scholarship say if given a chance to look closely at that? How does this part of scripture speak to people today who have a different experience than our traditional male-centered, heterosexual perspective?
Rowan has left aside his training and sensibilities as a theologian and teacher in favor of the diplomatic and political. Katharine has built on her experience as a scientist, a convert to this Church, and a woman.
Listening to the two together challenges one to decide which approach to the mission and leadership of the Church--and to the direction of the Communion--before us as we face the challenges of our time: the structural or diplomatic choice of Canterbury or the approach that builds on the lived experience of the church--the theological approach.
After listening to both, I find that I like and respect both people. But I am more than ever drawn to Katharine's theological approach as the way forward for our Communion and our Church. She has put forward what is best about our church, and this will both build up the Church and make the Gospel meaningful to people of our age.