07 July 2008

The view from here

“There’s something happening here, what it is t’aint exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I got to beware. I think it s time we stop children, what’s that sound? Everyone look what’s going down.”

Buffalo Springfield

GafCon has marked a turning in the Anglican experience. I am fairly sure they did not do it on purpose, but none-the-less, the conference / pilgrimage has had an impact.

In the blog—o—sphere the impact is notable. A number of the progressive / liberal blogs are turning to other topics. The conflicts within the Anglican community no longer capture or compel full attention. There is no conspiracy here albeit we probably won’t convince some people. Rather there is recognition.

The Windsor Report which I consider a really bad piece of scholarship, for all its flaws did at least identify four elements of an international expression of the Elizabethan Settlement: the office of Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Council, the Anglican Communion Council, and the Primate’s meetings. These were in the language of the report, “instruments of unity.” GafCon’s leaders managed to offer replacements for all four while proclaiming they were not doing so, or proclaim at least were not leaving the communion as they did so.

In place of both the primate’s meeting and the Archbishop of Canterbury, they place a new body, the “primate’s council.” It is substantially other than the “instrument of unity” in the Windsor authors because it is self-selecting, self-validating and most importantly, exclusive. While the ‘primates meetings’ met under the chairmanship of the archbishop and were inclusive of all the Anglican provinces. This new body will select only members whose ‘orthodoxy’ they accept and will meet under other chairmanship. This one body by its very existence removes its members from standing as Anglicans.

GafCon has also announced it will meet to assess “progress” in two years. And it has decided that there will be a “new North American province.” In short it is now the body replacing the Anglican Communion Council. The ACC is a less populous body meeting every few years and was intended to be the forum of the communion including all orders of Anglicans. So too with Lambeth, a council composed entirely of bishops, GafCon has its alternative -- itself.

In the beginning of the document, GafCon authors proclaim they have not left the Anglican Communion. Of course that is nonsense. They proclaim they are not in communion with America, Canada, Dr. Williams, Scotland and others they dislike. They completely dismiss the Anglican institutions, create replacements and then say they are still members.

Someone should suggest an anthem for their “fellowship.” I think White Rabbit makes sense. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj8MpszNics&feature=related

In a real way then, the conflict of ideas changed. From the defense of our polity and ideas under attack from someone seeking to enforce right wing politics; we have moved to a different place. GafCon is going its own way, even if it has not admitted the destination to itself or anyone else. It is a new denomination in formation.

So now, what? Well, there will be the inevitable legal conflicts as the GafCon people seem determined to attempt the misappropriation of assets owned by Anglican churches. There will be internal actions as, for instance, the house of bishops removes those who have become GafCon bishops from its membership. There will be labor as TEC rebuilds diocesan communities sundered by those leaving for GafCon’s new thing.

But, for me, and for it appears others, the real question is how we define ourselves in the post schism world. GafCon has become the citadel of the pseudo--orthodox.

Forts keep things out: ideas, learning, poetry, the work of Spirit all are rebuffed by walls. The issue now is how we (the bad progressives) work with those conservatives who still speak to us. The “world wide Anglican community” was a lovely idea and perhaps we should re-build it. But it is the network of relationships and the web of ideas that matters now. Which is why I shall try here and elsewhere to engage in conversation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
St Laika's

Click to view my Personality Profile page