Sunday, June 11, 2006

From Freiburg to Columbus

I. From Freiburg
Today my family took a road trip with our other academic comrades out into the beautiful countryside surrounding Freiburg to Staufen and Sulzburg--small towns tucked between the Black Forest and the Rhine valley. We went from the Platz of the Old Synagogue in Freiburg (destroyed in 1938, now a parking lot), where friends picked us up, to the "Ehemalige Synagoge" in Sulzburg. The Sulzburg synagogue was trashed in 1938 as well, but still stood and was later restored--though to my knowledge it has no surviving congregation. There--in this ghostly structure--we heard works from Victor Ullmann (these constituted mainly from Hebrew texts) performed by local University students.

Another fragment: the modern religious sculpture of Franz Gutmann, which we managed to see outside a small baroque Roman Catholic church: St. Trudpert , Munstertal: Jesus weeping into his hands, the tears flowing out over the ground. We think we saw another piece of his--a searing crucifix in a small RC church off Bertoldstrasse in Freiburg. Together they gave some small light to what was otherwise a very sombre, dark experience.

II. To Columbus
As the notorious but brilliant philosopher Carl Schmitt would have said, the essence of the political is opposition--a political group as such needs an other to serve as an enemy. We who support GC 2003 must try to leave the political behind at Columbus--it is easy to see right wing Anglicans as the other, and by doing so to constitute a convenient worldly institution, but this would be to fail to see Christ in them, it would be to fail to live Christianly.

It may be that the right will tag those who support GC2003 as an other, an enemy, nonchristian, on the way to eternal hellfire etc. I want to say: "So what--ultimately, it is nothing" with the Eschaton in mind. Let them rage, God will sort it out, accounts will be concluded.

But the words died on the way out--surely God will settle accounts over these synagogues as well, all sounds a little too much like the odious piety of the butchers of Bezier. And in the meantime there is an empty synagogue, or--even worse--a parking lot, asphalt, oil smudges. That is an awfully high price to pay, and pay, and continue to pay--an awful lot of silence, dead space, privation: evil, from generation to generation. Is it possible to oppose the Anglican right at GC2006 without making it out to be an enemy, without falling into the merely political?

An terrible amount of evil has endured through the ages in the Christian church--anti-Semitism is but one example--and the Christian church has had an awful lot of trouble getting the evil out. Even when it is removed, even redeemed, it is still there, like a scar, like a corpse next to the altar.

This tiny group, this shrinking piece of the Body of Christ about to be cast away by the larger megalithic communion has dared to say "No" to the culture of death, the old power of Leviathan which had dared to make something political of the church by declaring enemies to be extirpated: when they succeed with gays it will be Moslems or women or both next, and then onto other groups when they have devoured these and reduced them to tears and wailing. It must be possible for those who still support GC2003 to stand up without equivocating, without selling out their gay brothers and sisters to the morally dubious institutional agenda of the Anglican Communion.

Maybe it would be better to stand up now.


At 9:38 PM, Blogger Jim Strader said...

Thank you for your insight and wisdom in this post. It is possible to speak to one's principles, to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed without creating enemies out of those people who oppose one's theology. However, one must embrace conflict, and chaos. One should be willing to disagree with an opponent in a holy way while also abiding with one's own ethics and virtues. The difficulty in the life of the Episcopal Church is that those who disagree with the proponents of GC '03's actions are to a great degree unwilling to abide in the midst of chaos and conflict. They are, to use your metaphor, prepared to build new parking lots.

At 4:55 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Thanks for your comment. In "The Anglican Vision" Griffiss emphasizes that the Church's incompleteness is a sign of its fidelity, its continuing to answer the call. I think he is right on.

I think conflict is a consequence of our finitude, our limitations in he face of what God requires of us: the Church has made and continues to make mistakes. The right response to error is not repetition, but repentance. Let us live into a critical examination of what we have taken to be true.

If we an continue to debate GC2003, I am confident more and more Christians will see that objections are based on old prejudices raher than the truth.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Caelius said...

Nick Kniseley+ just plugged you on Episcopod.


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