Saturday, November 13, 2010

The "Brotherhood" of the Clergy

There is a poorly documented at best and perhaps at worst an undocumented, "brotherhood" of priests that has existed since the about the time the Apostles walked the face of this good earth.  While you and I are not directly "privvy" to this "brotherhood" we see it come out in so many bizarre ways today.

First, let us be clear, it is a "brother---hood" and if you would like to know why there is such an uproar in the Communion over women clergy and especially women bishops, you need look no further than the "brotherhood".  Women have broken into the clique that has been dominated by men for centuries.  I am willing to bet you my old favorite "dollars to doughnuts" that Susan Russell, Kathryn Galacia, Elizabeth Keaton and all the other women bump into this about every other day. 

Think back to when you were in middle school and high school and there was this group called the "socs" (short for socialites).  There were secret words and bonds of affection and a circle of protection that blanketed virtually all of them.  And, whoa unto you that tried to get into that group.  Well, this "brotherhood of priests is even more tight and more protective than that group ever was and "no women allowed".  This group has pulled up the ladder and will not allow any women into that group in the Anglican tree houses in Texas and in San Joaquin.

In the most extreme form it looks like Bishop Bennison in Pennsylvania.  It looks like the Roman Catholic protection of so many clergy that have offended God and abuse little children.  (Yes, this brotherhood extends throughout the clergy and without regard to denomination).  It is a "code of honor" that says we are special, we have been set aside for special work and only "we" can judge and condemn or approve those who have done wrong.  It is a group that circles the wagons every time there is an accusation or an issue the "brotherhood" believes will lessen their power hold on the rest of the church.

Gils Frasier writes:

The Church of England – and by that I mean the ordinary man and woman in the pew – is considerably more progressive, on women bishops and gay marriage, than its conservative and often overly fearful leadership. Churchgoers know that the time for change is overdue. And many have come to see this because of the inspiring and compassionate faith of people like Robinson.

For too long Christianity has lent the bigotry of homophobia a cloak of respectability. Robinson is, of course, quite right to shout loudly about those "tragic stories of teenagers who have taken their own lives because religion tells them they are an abomination before God, and who believe their lives are doomed to despair and unhappiness". These days the alibi for this sort of prejudice is called unity – that we mustn't do anything that might upset our conservative brothers and sisters. Indeed, had the covenant existed in the era of the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures, it would have provided a perfect way of muzzling them too.
(My emphasis)

It is this "brotherhood" that is now holding hostage the issue of inclusion.  Whether it's women or LGBT or handicapped or whatever that is different this "brotherhood" has decided that THEY are not worthy of being in with the "socs".  The "brotherhood" has fought long and hard to keep these people out and why?  Because they did not want to give up the "secret handshake". 

                                                (I caught this by secret camera)

Now, guess what?  With full inclusion the "brotherhood" will not only have to let everyone know the secret handshake but many in the brotherhood fear that they will have to protect their new found fellow bishops from the same "harm" and with the same ferocity that they have protected all the "good old boys" for centuries. They hate that -- but more to the point now everyone gets to have power and gee whiz, that is just awful.  How are they going to be "separate and equal" with all these other people getting to come in?

Overturn the "brotherhood", break up the "socs'" clique and I believe everything else will go much more smoothly.  But who is going to do that?  Well, +Gene is just about to retire and he is going to be replaced with that bastion of freedom and inclusivity Father Dan Martins.  What a blow for inclusivity that is! What a step in the direction of fresh air and openness.

Want to know why I recommend the House of Bishops goes away?  Why there should only be a unicameral house?  Look no further than this issue.  Will the bishops give this up willingly?  I do not think so but that is yet to be seen.  Let's hope (better let's pray) someone steps forward and begins the process but believe me the punishment heaped on +Gene will be minor compared to the punishment heaped upon those that step forward to break this "brotherhood" up.

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