The Episcopal Church (yep, that’s “mine”) did an amazing thing this year. It was time to elect a Presiding Bishop—not exactly a Pope equivalent, but the closest we can come. Oh-my-gosh, we elected … a woman.
We have already been the object of intense media attention, as we elected a good man to be the bishop of New Hampshire; a good and honest man who happens to love another man. I can’t believe Jesus cared about this one whit, or we’d have heard about it big time in the scriptures. We all know same-sex relationships have been around for ages, and are not limited to the human species, so if God or any of God’s human manifestations had wanted to squash the idea, we’d know about it.
Then there’s the fact that we decided to ordain women about a quarter of a century ago, and some furor over that step continues today. Though most parishes and dioceses at the very least can “stomach” the female priest business, more than you’d expect cry just-hold-on-one-minute when it comes to bishops. And God knows, a female primate is just out of the question, isn’t it?
The election of Katharine Jefferts-Schori as our next Presiding Bishop is causing comments from many quarters, some good and some less felicitous. I happen to know her, and she is a wise, humble, intelligent human being. I don’t care if her plumbing is indoor or out; I think, if anyone can, she will be able to move the Anglican Communion toward reconciliation.
And here’s why. Shortly after her election she was asked about her ability to handle male-female conflict, especially when she happened to hold the upper hand. As usual, she paused to think before answering (gee, I wish we all could do that). She then related her experience as the in-charge person on an oceanographic cruise, where the ship’s captain wouldn’t speak with her, just because she was female. This is what Katharine said to the audience: “That lasted about fifteen minutes. We got over it.”
Not he got over it, but we did. When we are in conflict with one another, the difficult dynamic involves us all. It’s never that “you” have the problem, it’s that we do. It takes a bit of give and take on both sides to move past the difficulty.
Maybe it’s time we all got over it—together.