Monday, May 20, 2013

Human Flourishing, Inclusion And Unborn Children

Fr. Dale Matson

Much has already been said about presiding Bishop Katharine Schori’s sermon of 12 May 2013 where she attacked St. Paul and called that which is evil beautiful and holy. “Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy”. Her inscrutable exegesis of the lectionary epistle reading from Acts 16:16-34 is at variance with commentaries and church tradition.

I have read the sermon several times in an effort to understand it.  Some things made sense. As someone who has written sermons, I try to tie in the readings with the events of contemporary life also. How does Scripture address the problems of this age? In her sermon she made the following statement, “Human beings have a long history of discounting and devaluing difference, finding it offensive or even evil.  That kind of blindness is what leads to oppression, slavery, and often, war.  Yet there remains a holier impulse in human life toward freedom, dignity, and the full flourishing of those who have been kept apart or on the margins of human communities.

I happen to agree with her statement and believe God has a special place in His heart for those she has described. I am not certain what she means by “full flourishing” but I suspect she would say providing an environment that would offer the opportunity for self-actualization or self-discovery. It would be providing an environment where all humans could thrive. Can we eliminate poverty? I doubt it since Jesus (quoting Deuteronomy) stated, “The poor you will always have with you.” (Matthew 26:11a) That is not an excuse to turn our backs on the poor but it is a statement of fact.

My problem with her statement on “devaluing difference” and blindness leading to oppression is that she is not inclusive enough. She would like to be an advocate for those who are at the margins of society, the underrepresented and the victimized.  She sees the love of God embracing all of creation. She opposes St. Paul and would like to give equal weight to the words of a girl in slavery to men and a demon. Even those possessed by familiar spirits need to be heard. Paul did not want to hear the demon. He wanted to free the girl.

There are many however, that are not included in the diverse world of TEC. Those who don’t agree are labeled bigots and homophobes and haters. But there is another group missing from the big tent.
How about unborn children? Don’t they get a hearing also? Don’t they fall under God’s loving embrace?  How is an unborn child able to flourish if he/she is aborted?  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5) If you want this to be about the disenfranchised then start at the bottom. If you want to be inclusive then think of them also. If you want to be diverse then think of them. If you want to think of innocent victims then think of them. This is a social justice and human rights issue of immeasurable proportions. What about them?