17 August 2008


I have been reading the various summations of the Anglican Summer of Discontent. I rather suspect that the Fall will be a similar season. It is interesting to ask ourselves if it must be this way? I submit perhaps it must indeed.

On Preludium, Fr. Harris proposes discussion of an Episcopal and just possibly other communions (Scotland? Canada? Wales?) from participation in the Anglican Communion's activities. Somehow, he suggests, this could be done without a final step to not being a part of the communion or at least without loosing communion with Canterbury. This is an idea that the incumbent, Dr. Williams, has suggested something like this in his various pronouncements about his (uniquely by him) favored idea of a 'covenant.'

Bad idea.

Bad idea because it would permit the homophobes to have unfettered control of the communion processes and institutions. Bad idea because it would take TEC and the other progressive communions off the firing line of defense for our LBTG sisters and brothers. Bad idea because given the utter indifference with which the homophobic wing of the church has engaged in any "listening process" we would guarantee the silencing of the voices that should be heard. Bad idea because the emerging progressive voices within the (non) Global South would be silenced without any hinderance.

Were we to step away from ACC, as we did ill-advisedly once before, we would see that institution transformed into a canon law enforcing church. Once we leave it to the devices of the empire building canon imperialists (including Dr. Williams it appears) we can be sure there wont be an Anglican Communion to return to later. There will be to use Dr. Williams's telling, self-promoting phrase, an "Anglican Church. We can and we should do better.

Standing aside would create I think, a three sided schism. On the one side, the uber-calvinist Central African "GafCon" or "FOCA" body headed by a primate's council because Dr. Jensen, Dr Akinola, ABPp Orambi, and PB Venables all see themselves as the natural leader. More about that leadership problem anon. On another side, the Evangelical dominated Canterbury led, "Anglican Church" would be heir to the various "instruments of unity" but would see them fail as various provinces elected not to sign up for the covenant. Finally one would see TEC become not The Episcopal Church, but rather The Episcopal Communion or alternately forming something like a communion with Canada, Japan, South Africa, refugees from the now fractured Church of England, and probably Ireland, Wales and Scotland or parts of them.

This sort of thing has a technical term, it is a "mess." And it would be incredibly unstable. If anything was clear from the little that leaked from the paranoid security of GafCon it was that the egos of the several primates and the real differences between them will make that body, absent the Americans to hate, a very contentious bunch. My guess is they cannot stay together a full year.

The process of formation for whatever TEC, ACCanada, and their friends form will be slow. It will take a while given the various synods and conventions involved and the schismatic process that will wrack England.

Over all it is a bleak picture on the horizon. TEC's standing aside wont help.

If on the other hand we simply say "No, we are here, deal with it" the voices wont be silenced and the instruments will be faced with a need to work things out. I cannot guarantee, no one can, that a fracturing schism wont happen anyway, but I doubt it will. By simply staying put, staying active and staying engaged, TEC et al will slow down the process in the Anglican Communion. That has several benefits, not least of which is that neither the solidity of GafCon nor the really bad leadership of Dr. Williams can last forever. And we retain access to the voice of the persecuted with at least some chance to make it heard.

I keep looking for the silver lining in the idea that TEC should stand aside. I cannot find it. It seems to me that Jesus did not stand aside, Paul certainly did not, and our liturgy is enriched by our reacknowledgment of many others who did not. It is easy to give it up, but communion, not church for the Anglican way is somethig worth contending for, if our presiding bishop can get out of her 'crucified place' and do it.

I hope the general convention votes no to leaving, no to moratoria and no to the Anglican Church with its proposed covenant. We should affirm the people among us LBGT or not, the witness of the persecuted in Nigeria, and most of Africa, and the mission to bring all the baptized fully into the fellowship of God's people. Anything less is not enough.

We should also affirm a very simple idea. There is no one right way. Implicit in the (very bad) idea of the covenant is the idea that there is, and we can define it. This is the sin of pride taken to new lows. We always need to learn, we always need to listen for the Word, we always have to be ready to let the Spirit lead us. To do that is to say, no to the idea of one right way.

I pray the Anglican Rosary. You may not. I am not right nor are you. We both seek, I hope a path to which the Spirit calls us. To claim that we uniquely know the way, and a covenant that defines dogma as doctrine does exactly that, is to sin against the Spirit. I think we can do better, I hope so.



Leonard said...

I hope a path to which the Spirit calls us." Jim

All aboard.

Leonard said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JimB said...

Yes indeed!


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