This began as a response to a comment in the previous post, but I'm laying here in bed with the 'flu (don't worry - it's not Swine Flu!) and what began as a brief reply ended up becoming War & Peace. So rather than just delete it I decided to make it into an open letter, and give it a post of its own.)
David - Calm Down!
Your interaction here and elsewhere is greatly appreciated, and believe me you are respected for taking the time to do so. I realise it's not easy: sometimes it seems to me as if both sides of the divide are talking in different languages, and please understand that what can sound quite quite innocuous on one side of the church is actually very offensive on the other. That you've taken the time both here and on your own site to try bridging the gap is something for which we are all grateful, and stands as a testimony to you own faith and passion for all to know Christ.
Still - I can't see anyone here, especially any locals part of "the Sydney Opposition", crying "fundamentalist". To the contrary, I see a prominent Sydney blogger describing you and your approach as reasonable. Yes, he also calls for "conservative hypocrites" to be brought to account - as they well should be; so should liberal hypocrites and very other shade of hypocrite in between. If his use of this phrase seems harsh to you (or anyone else concerned) I've no doubt he'd be only too happy to explain why he chose to use it, and knowing him I can say with certainty he didn't make that decision lightly.
Remember that Jesus also used some pretty harsh expressions to criticise those using religion as an excuse to treat others as inferior. Elsewhere I've seen allegations of incompetence (with which I'm inclined to agree), duplicity (with which I don't) and a cover-up (jury's still out: I'll try to be more patient and wait until Synod). But fundamentalist? No, I don't believe I have.
Ok; the obvious exceptions are Father Christian and Father David Heron, but given that they're (a) satirists, and (b)quite often down-right weird, I'm not sure many people take them literally. At least I hope they don't: don't forget Father Christian recently called me an "outrageous, wicked apostate Vegemite-encrusted son-of-perdition", and any Sydney leaders taking him too seriously probably don't have the requisite social skills to be in ministry in the first place. In any case: throw those two at me & I'll match you with David Virtue and the Midwest Conservative Journal. Then I'll raise it by asking if you've ever tried disagreeing with anything at Craig's Place? That's the internet: robust, often rude, and frequently downright cranky. But in between the thorns I've had the privilege of finding great truths, and making friendships of a type once inconceivable. The world of the pamphleteers that thrived in the wake of the invention of the printing press wasn't much different, and it's largely due to them that the era of mass literacy came to be.
Given the things I see you saying here, along with suggestions I've heard you make at your place, I'm not sure you realise just how excluded from the processes of power those those in the Sydney "opposition" are. Clergy whose careers are blocked, or whose license is only renewed on an annual basis (and then frequently only after it's expired for a month or two). Requests for support that don't even receive a reply. Programs attracting hundreds of unchurched young people (yes, I said hundreds) that never rate a mention in Southern Cross, despite being run at virtually no cost by an army of volunteers - when the neighbouring "orthodox" parish receives a grant for a full-time youth worker to minister to its two dozen Christian kids. Churches massively exceeding their "Vision for Growth" targets that could for all the encouragement they receive be on another planet. Do I need to continue?
The "more productive" ways of being heard simply aren't open to many of us on a different side of the church to your own. As someone who hasn't been a "Reformed Evangelical" for more than a decade I can't join the ACL without lying. Nor can those not prepared to lie about their sexuality. Parish synod reps from our churches all too often return deeply frustrated; not because their motions were defeated (they didn't expect otherwise) but because they felt they weren't even heard. So what other forums do we have? We can't preach because we're women, or didn't go to Moore, or are divorced, or married to people who have been, or are perhaps just plain suspect. Our letters don't get published in Southern Cross, and more than a few of us were kicked off the old SydAng bulletin boards. Letters to bishops are ignored, and phone calls don't get past personal assistants who say "I'll notify him of your call". So what avenues remain?
The media and the web. And sometimes what you call "a thoroughly unproductive way of going about things" is the only option we've got. Many of us, myself included, have tried being polite and quietly spoken - and we were ignored. So all that remains is to become squeaky wheels in the face of the big machine, and even then it's only those of us with nothing left to lose who can afford do that.
Fighting for the right of those excluded by the church to discover Christ's love, forgiveness, and compassion is never a waste of time. I also wish there was no need to resort to some of the more abrasive tactics: I dare say Jesus wished he didn't have to use a whip to evict the temple's money-lenders. But the temple needed cleansing, and nothing else worked...