Sunday, May 1, 2011

Love Upside Down

In 2004, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia did what Anglican church meetings do interminably, all over this sorry-ass world: it debated "the problem of homosexuality" as a matter of principle. The usual bland, specious forbearance and fake charity of the discussion depended on the usual shameful fiction: namely, that delegates were arguing about abstract beliefs, not about the treatment of a sizeable minority of people within, or shut out from, the Church–and surely, especially given the fact that this was, hello, a gathering of Anglican priests, within the ranks of the delegates themselves.

Then the Rev. Dr. Steven Ogden, at the time Dean of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide, got up to make from the floor a motion he thought surely everyone could countenance, for a resolution that gay and lesbian people were fully welcome in Anglican congregations. He was jeered down by hecklers, while the majority of delegates sat spinelessly silent.

As he talks about it in a new book, Love Upside Down: Life, Love, and the Subversive Jesus, the experience clearly became a defining moment in his personal journey from an ethics of abstraction to an ethics based on love for the irreplaceable worth of others–and a journey to the radical left of the Australian Church. He writes as a fellow traveller who gets it: that sometimes the Church is the people of Israel on their way out of Egypt; but sometimes it’s Pharoah’s army; and sometimes it’s just the Red Sea that you’ve got to get across.

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