Thursday, July 16, 2009

Misrecognition: when ‘all’ can end up meaning ‘some’

When all members of a community or organization have equal access to power, to benefits and to opportunity there is a quality of mutual recognition. ‘Misrecognition’ occurs when the structures operate in such a way that some members have less access than others. This is usually unintentional and often difficult to see because it is part of the normal life of the organization. Even though it is unnoticed by those with power, it is a significant reality for those unfortunate enough to be affected.

When a community becomes aware that some subgroup is misrecognised it is necessary for a while to lift them up and give them specific recognition because ‘business as usual’ is for everyone to misrecognise them. Any minority is in danger of misrecognition. That’s why affirmative action is necessary: to protect minorities at danger of being unconsciously discriminated against.

If we are to show hospitality to those who are traditionally misrecognized and marginalized in a predominately white heterosexual middle-class church we have to take affirmative action. It is not enough to invite ‘all the baptized’, we have to go down the table, take the misrecognized by hand and bring them into the fellowship in the place of honor.

An example of that principle in action was seen in the House of Bishops on Tuesday. Bishop Daniels specifically invited conservative bishops – who are a minority in that house -- to speak about blessing same gender relationships because, he said, their perspective was important to inform his thinking.

Integrity believes that the attempt to eliminate all the categories of people in Resolution CO61, the House of Bishops has taken the guts out of the canon that was meant to avoid discrimination in the discernment process. Although well intentioned, substituting ‘All the baptized’ provides no hope and no protection for those who have been and continue to be marginalized -- those for whom stepping forward is perilous. The Bishops attempt to deal with their own confusion has sadly not only done a disservice to the transgender community but to all those who have had to struggle from the margins to be recognized.

Integrity remains committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments AND recognizes that -- at this point in the life of this church -- it is still necessary to name in their particularity those who in many places continue to stand at the margins.

Caroline Hall for IntegrityUSA


W. Huber said...

Interesting... I see what they are trying to do on several fronts, but you have a very important point as well. Perhaps the canon would be strongest with both parts: that is, keeping the restated inclusive sentence as this resolution suggests, but then changing the proposed categories to read something along the lines of "Because of past and present prejudices, special and generous attention should be given so as to not exclude people based on insert list of categories here." This way, the canon will be applicable to anyone who is baptized and finds themselves being discriminated against because of membership in a minority group not specifically mentioned while still providing a list of groups that have come to the conscious awareness of the church as being discriminated against.

Dr. Val said...

"Inclusive" isn't really INCLUSIVE until everyone sees their faces represented at the table...only then does the Church demonstrate it is safe to come in the door.

James said...

I like the "all" simply because it does not compartmentalize anyone. Each person is lumped together into one "us" in God.

W. Huber said...

You're absolutely right; inclusive language (they've taken our own language here, "all the baptized") isn't enough, isn't real by itself. However, as we've seen in the past, the reality tends to conform to the language, over time, and only if the efforts to grow and change the church continue to stimulate that conforming process.

Changing the language only permits the process of changing the reality to take place with fewer hindrances: the removal of one large chain from our ankles.

Elaine C. said...

Naming the particularity of who is not seen, is crucial, just saying "all" does not protect and include people that the hegemonic viewpoint considers to be sub-human. Case in point, "we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal ... " And "all men" only meant propertied white males ...

JCF said...

But James, if some have been compartmentalized through discrimination---and we know they have---then I believe it is essential to keep the language of compartmentalization, until ALL are free and equal!

[Much like the Declaration of Independence's "We believe all men are created equal", didn't even mean all men---much less women! Hence the necessity of the various Constitutional amendments, and the Civil Rights Act, to NAME those categories who had been *missed* in 1776's "all"]

W. Huber said...

Don't you think we ought to be able to do both? That is, can't we make statements that are both fully generalized and necessarily specific?

stephen said...

followers of Jesus Christ R fighting among themselves,really interesting but i don't understand why.


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