In her post this morning, Maintaining Wide Boundaries, Susan reflects on the views of an Episcopal bishop on the belief that it is better to have a few heretics in church than to push people out. The goal is to keep people in dialogue and therefore keep alive the possibility of conversion and allow God’s love to work. And that conversion, to me, seems to be something that can happen on either or both sides of disagreement.
In the past, I have felt “pushed out.” In reality, I did move from one parish to another by my choice, but that choice was tempered by a strong, painful sense of being pushed to the door and having it held open for me. It was driven by a need to find a home where I felt welcomed, even when I wasn’t necessarily agreed with. In the long run, it was “a good thing” — and my new home opened many doors and paved the way for a deeper understanding of God’s love. Eventually, with this support, I could make my peace with the other community. I could be transformed and forgive. It took a long time, but seldom, it seems does real conversion happen in an instant. It is a process.
And process is what I see the Bishop talking about. I have watched and listened as members of my family, who are members of the Episcopal Church, have made their own way through the upheavals in their church. I am always impressed when I see them love their church, even when they are concerned. I see them struggle to understand the way that others live out their faith. They love their community, warts and all. They are transformed in their own struggle.
Thanks Susan — I needed to read this reflection this morning.