Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Adam-Shawn Dialogue ... first entry ...

It takes courage to dissent ... and in the Church, dissent usually means exile, rejection and no longer being in community ...

I welcome dissent ...

Faith without dissent and dialogue and doubt, is dead and lacks anything dynamic and life affirming.

Dissent doesn't mean that the one dissenting is 'wrong' or 'misguided' or ill-informed. Sometimes dissent means the Spirit is active and opening eyes, ears, hearts and souls to what is happening around and stirring up something that will in time bring about change and transformation ...

Dissent in the Church has in time lead to many wonderful attributes of faith ... the inclusion and ordination of women ... the inclusion and ordination of self-professed gays and lesbians ... the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the WHOLE church and of course the vital work done with First Nations people across Canada that has lead to apologies, offers of healing and the first steps of reconciliation ...

But Dissent in the Church is often resented and resisted ... it takes time for the prophetic voices to be heard, and may God help you if your prophetic voice colours outside the lines of what is acceptable ...

Mine is a voice of dissent ... I'll own it ... and I will not shirk away from it.

Mine is also a voice that is sharp and shrill and at times offered in a way that is blunt and unapologetic. I don't have time for the niceties of politicking and posturing ... I was raised to say it, do it and get on with it ...

Mine is a faith that is about living what you say, and saying what you believe and not allowing the hypocrisy of double standards and two-faced-ness get in the way ... The me you'll meet in the pulpit on Sunday is the SAME me you'll meet in the grocery store on Tuesday. I'm blunt, I curse, I LOVE to laugh and joke, I am highly intelligent, well read, slightly arrogant, and incredibly senstive to what people say and do around me ... AND - I don't have time for social niceties for their own sake ... I like to get to the point and deal with stuff ... I'll say what I'm thinking or feeling, and I might ruffle your feathers or brush you the wrong way ...

My feeling about all of that is - It's ME !!! It's how I am, it's WHO I am, and I make no apologies for it ...

What I marvel at is the repeated affirmation by those OUTSIDE the church that I am the kind of minister they have been looking for ... they value my honesty and bluntness, they welcome and encourage my openness to ideas, concepts and experiences that are not politically nice, they affirm repeatedly that 'if there were more ministers like you, there would be more people in church ...' BUT, the people in the pews have not always taken to me, nor treated me kindly ... mine is a path marked by conflict and disagreement ...

I'll own a rigidity in my expectations of others, and a stubbornness when it comes to failure and betrayal ... you may get to disappoint me, or hurt me once - but you will seldom get a second chance ...

So, I find myself outside the Church ... a wanderer ... homeless from the denomination that nurtured me and my ministry, and that instilled in me a powerful call to ministry ... I am no longer made welcome in 'This United Church of Ours ..." and my experience is NOT unique ...

My greatest sin is that I won't simply go quietly and play nice ... I will continue to name the injustice and the unfairness and the incredible bias that has been shown to me ... I will NOT silence my voice for the sake of niceness ... the more I am rejected and treated as an outcast, the louder my voice has become ...

This is NOT a case of trying to prevail by volume ... this is a case of being CALLED and ANNOINTED and ORDAINED by the Spirit to be in Ministry ... my ministry includes, and indeed perhaps is focused on those who are outside the Church, and who no longer feel welcome within ...

Why is it, when you ask about those outside the church the leadership won't discuss it, but highlights the tremendous 'outreach' they are doing??

Why is it when a congregation experiences growth, and then rejects the leadership and dwindles, no one wants to wrestle with "WHY?" but are content to blame the leader that is gone and appease the toxic old guard that remains??

Why is it when someone speaks up and says - "I feel like an outcast" the consensus and the reply from within the Structure of the Church is to tear them down, belittle them further, and place the onus of responsibility for rejection and exile one THEIR shoulders ???

Why is it that in a place like the United Church of Canada, a place that prides itself on a long history and heritage of being inclusive, open, progressive and yes, even welcoming - when one feels anything but, and raises their concern with the leaders the response is to blame THEM, or to nod thier head sympathetically and to offer a "tsk-tsk" - "that sounds really tough ..." rather than admitting that when someone feels rejected and exiled, there are TWO sides to the responsibility of that experiences, and sometimes the one cast out is truly the victim ...

I'll end by pondering whether Jesus would have said to the lepers and the outcasts he encountered - "what did you do to cause this?" or would he reach out his hand, touch their woundedness, offer healing and WELCOME them back into the fold UNCONDITIONALLY, while condemning the prevailing custom of the day for being so backward and inhospitable ...

The Church is a place where ALL are supposedly welcome ... I wonder though, how well we live out that value in our day to day lives ??

Why are we willing to dismiss a lack of hospitality with a shrug of the shoulder and a "what are you gonna do?" when we see the hostility that is present in some corners of the Church?? How is such a lack of response helpful much less faithful??

1 comment:

Adam said...

http://adamkilner.blogspot.com/2009/08/adam-shawn-dialogue-first-response.html