By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 29, 2007
"Lesbian Could Head Episcopal Diocese" blares the headline of a Chicago Sun-Times story about the nomination of the Rev. Tracey Lind as a "finalist" -- a curious expression -- for bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. She's found within herself the courage to go forward:
"I believe that accepting this nomination is what God is asking of me," Lind said in a statement. She's dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland and author of Interrupted by God.
How quickly identity politics has changed. Twenty-five years ago politically enlightened persons were instructed to ignore a candidate's homosexual libido as irrelevant to the task-oriented skills pertinent to fulfilling a particular role. Fifteen years ago it was permitted (and sometimes cautiously encouraged) to make reference to someone's homosexual orientation provided one made the obligatory verbal curtsey insisting a gay orientation did not entail homosexual activity; well brought-up individuals had to pretend that gays lived like Emily Dickinson, in pensive and abstract isolation from the objects of desire. Today that pretense has been replaced by an etiquette of moral mendacity: the enlightened acknowledge that, yes, gays may be "partnered," but one must make-believe the partership is monogamous and decorous and morally unproblematic.
Accordingly, in her nominee's statement on the Bishop for Chicago website, the Rev. Tracey tells us nothing about her christology or ecclesiology or take on the 39 Articles, but she goes out of her way to let us know her Emily is emphatically un-Dickinson:
My life with my partner, Emily Ingalls (a cradle Episcopalian), is the gift that most sustains me. Together, we tend our garden, travel, hike, bicycle, enjoy the arts, and spend time with family and friends. And I like to fly fish, run, read, write and look for God in silence though the third eye of my camera.
Why is it important that Tracey's partner be identified as "a cradle Episcopalian"? Is this supposed to reassure the more conservative skeptics with the picture of a demure vicar's wife in white muslin who knows how to pour tea and has a polite horror of Rome? Or is Emily to be viewed as another one of Tracey's wholesome hobbies, on a par with hiking and gardening and looking for God in silence? In any case, you have Tracey's permission to not-think-of-Mardi-Gras, and hey, isn't that what spiritual leadership is all about?
The Bishop for Chicago site also includes a Bishop Search Prayer that deals graces off the bottom of the deck. An excerpt:
Give to our search committee inquiring and discerning hearts, that they may clearly see your will. Give us all the courage to dream and the will to persevere to make those dreams a reality. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and ground us in the knowledge and love of you. Empower us with the gifts of joy and wonder as we seek out the special ministry you have for us together in our diocese; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
"Give us the courage to dream ..." Methinks anyone who offers that particular prayer has all his dreams quite in order, thank you very much, and is not so much beseeching the Lord for a favor as obliquely chiding his more cautious brethren to accept the progressive vision of the future as God's will. I mean, suppose for the sake of argument God gave you the "courage" to dream that the Church should return in every respect to the way it was in 1957 -- would you have the courage to end your career by saying it?
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