Woman to lead Episcopalians

First the Episcopalians go ahead and get themselves a gay bishop, Gene Robinson, sending shockwaves across the E-world and threatening to cause a full-blown, theses-nailed-to-the-door schism in the Episcopal Church.

Now, the U.S. body has named a woman, Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, to "lead a church in the global Anglican Communion."

Naturally, conservatives like Rev. Eddie Blue of Maryland are against it: "I am shocked, dismayed and saddened by the choice."

Jessica Valenti is "dismayed and saddened that people could find the idea of a woman as a religious leader so distressing." You and I, of course, agree.

But aside from the fact that Bush's father's denomination appears to be so darned liberal, that's not the interesting part. The interesting part in all this is the dilemma to progressives caused by the deepening divide in the Episcopal/Anglican church.

As Peter J. Boyer lays out in his brilliant and fascinating New Yorker article, it's the African congregations that are providing the bulk of the opposition to the ordination of women and gays.

Having been colonized and proselytized to relatively recently, certain liberalizing forces have yet to evolve in the sub-saharan branches of the church. Leaders there, regardless of their personal views, are competing in the spiritual marketplace and can't compete when their world bodies sanction something seen as abominable in many African cultures.

So, is the election of a woman an encouraging sign of progress or a disregard for the views of third-world congregations? Discuss... but make nice. (Feministing)

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