How might Episcopalians make sense of the church's fractious debates about sex? It's a question engaged by Episcopalians across the theological spectrum.

Bishop-elect Gene Robinson, who's at the center of the polemical storm, addressed it briefly on Thursday night during a conversation with General Convention deputies at the Episcopal Church of the Gethsemane.

"AIDS in China and India is going to make AIDS in Africa look like a cakewalk, and we're sitting around talking about sexual orientation," he said. "I think God must be very disappointed in us."

Leaders of Claiming the Blessing quote pilot Chuck Yeager's observation that the turbulence in his jet was greatest in the moments just before he broke the sound barrier.

Conservative Episcopalians might agree with Robinson—but for entirely different reasons—that God must be disappointed in his church.

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, however, encourages his fellow conservatives to keep their eyes on God's larger purposes and his sovereignty. "The deep truth has to do with the rhythm of the Magnificat," he said, with its promises of God casting down the mighty and raising up the lowly. "The church saying that every day at sundown is a very great irony, but also a very great truth."

Duncan sees in the Magnificat an image of what God may be doing on a global scale: casting down the mighty institutions of the West and raising up the embattled and often despised Christians of the Southern Hemisphere.

"Part of the problem in the Episcopal Church is that we believe God has appointed us to lead the rest of the church," Duncan said. "I know that God lifts up the lowly and he casts down the mighty. I'm very fearful about that, because this church has thought of itself as mighty."

Peter Moore, ...

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