I am not a nobody

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By Lauren R. Stanley

When, pray tell, did I become a “nobody”? I want to know, so that I can readjust my thinking, readjust my life.

Over in the Church of England, a proposal is circulating that would limit the powers of some women bishops if anyone – apparently anyone – objects to that woman.

Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, a conservative Anglican group in England, was quoted as saying this so-called compromise was “sensible.”

“It represents a compromise,” Mr. Thomas told Reuters. “It doesn’t go as far as some wanted, it goes further than some liberals wanted. It is a way in which nobody can lose.” (emphasis added)

“Nobody”? Is that what I am? A “nobody”?

It has taken the Church of England years, and lots of nasty infighting, to even consider the idea of women bishops. This after taking the same Church years even longer to decide to allow women to be ordained priests.

Just months after agreeing to open the episcopate to women, conservatives are forcing the Church to pull back. The Revision Committee already has voted to change the rules so that certain powers can be removed from women bishops simply to appease those who don’t want them. If women bishops face opposition from traditionalists in the dioceses in which they serve, some of their powers – as yet undetermined – would be taken away from them and given to male bishops.

One Church of England spokesman says that in parishes that “don’t recognize women bishops and want to look to another bishop,” – read “a man” – that diocesan bishop’s duties and responsibilities to those parishes would be reduced “automatically.”

So there would be no attempt at education, no attempt at mediation, no attempt at reconciliation. Apparently, just one person can object, and poof! There goes the diocesan bishop’s ability to function.

Liberals in the Church are decrying this latest development, claiming it would create a two-tier church, allowing discrimination against women to get even easier than it already is.

As a woman priest ordained for these past 12 years, I can assure you: The two-tier system that the liberals in England fear has existed for millennia. The Church has perpetuated this system throughout its history.

Why?

Because, apparently, it is still acceptable to declare women “nobodies.”

I find it ironic that this last brouhaha is taking place in England, which has been ruled, quite successfully, by queens and one woman Prime Minister. It’s OK for the nation to be liberal enough to recognize that women are equal, but heaven forfend if the Church were to do so!

Let me be clear: I am not a nobody. I am a beloved child of God, created in God’s image, brought into being because God loved me into being.

I have no desire to be a bishop, and certainly do not serve in the Church of England, so in theory, this latest development has nothing to do with me. But in fact, it does, because the women who are being called “nobodies” over there are my sisters in Christ. They, too, are beloved children of God, they, too, were created in God’s image because God loved them into being.

So my heart breaks to hear of this proposal, because it tells me that the Church of England is more concerned with appeasing those who cannot accept a new thing than it is with living into a basic tenet of our theology: That we are all created in the image of God.

Because that is true, none of us is a “nobody.”

It would be nice if the Church of England were to remember that.

The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley is an Appointed Missionary of the Episcopal Church serving in the Diocese of Haiti, where she works on the Partnership Program and Development. Her website is http://web.me.com/merelaurens/GoIntoTheWorld.net.

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10 Responses to "I am not a nobody"
  1. A two-tier church - now, where have we heard that before?

    I think perhaps we should inform the Church of England that should the Ridley Cambridge Draft of an Anglican Covenant pass with Section 4 intact one reason we might consider signing would be to confront this rejection of the Holy Spirit by the Church of England. For, after, we speak of bishops being ordained "for the whole church" - which thus includes those Anglicans who have realized that the Holy Spirit calls all persons to any ministry the Holy Spirit wishes.

    Marshall Scott

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  2. First of all, my love to my sisters in the Lord in the CofE.

    Secondly a bishop is a bishop is a bishop.

    Thirdly, when are conservatives going to accept that their view of women as not quite human is a root cause of the violence against twomen and children all over the world?

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  3. Between +Rowan's spineless acquiescence to the rampant sexism in some quarters of the CofE and his utter blindness to the hatred and piracy in some allegedly Anglican churches in Africa, his two-tier proposal is looking better and better. Sign me up for the second tier. In fact, maybe TEC should form a third tier and welcome other Anglicans (and anyone else who is interested) to join us. I suspect we'd get some takers.

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  4. This is all about appeasement, of grasping rather than letting go. And Rowan is there nodding in support, just as he appeases homophobes.

    What must I do to enter the kingdom of heaven? And he wept, because his was the third largest Christian communion in the world.

    But, ah, it is just a matter of realpolitik isn't it? Be pragmatic. Be patient. (Removes tongue firmly in cheek.)

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  5. To our shame, we in the U.S. once counted

    a slave as three fifths of a person (the Three-Fifths Compromise, 1787.) Three fifths of a bishop would work about as well.

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  6. Hi Lauren, I'm 59 years old, a lifelong member of the Church of England, over thirty years in holy orders, and I am bitterly ashamed of the Church of England today. It is characterised by bullying and oppression. Rowan Williams is leading the worse sort of pogrom against women and gay people. Please don't think that he represents the views of ordinary anglicans here.

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  7. Toby: There is no way, shape or form that I think that ++Rowan represents the views of ordinary Anglicans in the Church of England. I'm distraught at the actions he's been taking, even though I think I understand something of what he's trying to do. But playing this game of his, in the hopes that it will keep the Communion from fracturing on his watch, is quite dangerous. The Communion is undergoing a Reformation, and whilst he may not want it, it already is underway.

    Blessings to all of you in the CofE -- stay faithful, preach the Gospel and know that all of your are in our prayers.

    Lauren

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  8. Thanks, Lauren. By the way, do you know the book 'Nobody Rides the Unicorn' by Adrian Mitchell? It's worth looking at for a different spin on who are you.

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  9. I have thought for some time, and developments such as this one nearly convince me, that Rowan Williams is the Neville Chamberlain of the Anglican Communion.

    Chamberlain was a workhorse for the Conservative Party and a member of several British governments in the 20s and 30s, culminating in the Premiership in 1937. He was a true patriot, a trustworthy, honest, and reliable man, one to turn to for help in almost any circumstance. He was an honored member of Churchill's War Cabinet from its inception until his death in May, 1940.

    But his sad legacy is that he failed, and failed utterly, to understand what he was dealing with in European Fascism. As a man of integrity, he could not see that he was not dealing with other men of integrity. And so he lost sight, of himself and of Europe and what it was devolving into. In the process, he lost sight of Britain and what it was devolving from.

    His policy of appeasement, attempting to satisfy the insatiable, of course could not and did not succeed. As a result of his pursuit of that policy, evil ones very nearly succeeded in destroying Europe, Britain, and the rest of the world.

    Oh Rowan! Appeasement didn't work at Munich. Why would it work at Lambeth or at any other place?

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