07 May 2010

Another sign that the "global South" conference failed.

It is apparent from here that the recent "Global South" conference was a failure, at least for its planners. In initiating the meeting its planners required that the churches that attended be committed to the "Anglican Covenant" and suitably homophobic. Apparently things have not worked out. In fact, on the forth day of the conference which was it now appears supposed to consist of mass castigation of Canada, the USA and perhaps the Church of England; a mass acceptance of the "Ridley Draft" of the "Covenant" and a ceremonial signing of that document, almost nothing happened.

Oh, Archbishop Anis gave his address outlining the new structure for the new church based on the Global South, and we assume in the private sessions, lots of negativity towards Canada and USA was heard. But(!) the key actions did not happen.

I wondered at the lack of any real action or even call to it. But then this emerged in the ACC newsletter. It appears to confirm my hunch that something was planned. The players however did not get the agreement they expected. And thus the dishwater bland communique and no agreed to action.

Hmm... next thing we know we will be recalling OT stories of confusion falling on conspirators!

On the international level, it seems we are seeing what we would have to call the case of the disappearing Anglican Covenant. Archbishop John Chew, of Southeast Asia, and others were confident that the Covenant would be fully endorsed "as is" by all of the Global South Provinces that were in attendance in Singapore recently. This was to have been a major part of their gathering, and a gift for Dr. Williams in Lambeth - but what happened? The Covenant has come under fire from several quarters for different reasons: the ultra-revisionist American Episcopal Church (TEC) doesn't like it because it seems to tell them what they can and can't do; many faithful orthodox Anglicans find fault with it because it has no teeth and it is premised on structures and bodies that have no ability to accomplish anything, based on past performance. Some do want to affirm the Covenant, but with modifications and "teeth."

When the Fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter ended and the participants went home, where was the Covenant? There was no signing ceremony, no endorsement by the gathering, just the case of the amazing disappearing Anglican Covenant. Well, given its present form with no teeth, and lacking key parts, and the impossibility of enforcement, perhaps it is just as well.

Yup, that was it. And even David Anderson is not so sure he wanted the signatures, ceremony etc. Hmmm... maybe just maybe schism is not so attractive after all? The covenant idea is a bad one. Dr. Williams wants it to be both a set of perceived rules and a set of so convoluted processes that the rules are close to meaningless. It is not a sale to anyone and that is in my view a good thing. May it die ignored as it richly deserves.

But here then a problem, absent that document, absent agreement on the Gaf(fe)Con idea of a new provincial structure, what do the would be schismatics have? The clear reality is that England will shortly approve women bishops. That means a potential split among conservatives over women in clergy, which makes the ultra right wing Anglo-catholics crazy and is not a big deal to many evangelicals.

The unity of the split has always been over stated. We have always been looking at a lot of purple shirted frogs in a rather small pond. And it is not working. Mere homophobia combined with ambition is not enough to build a church.

It is also my hunch that the money is getting tight. Between a really bad economy and the collapse of many equity markets on one hand and an odd form of success on the other, I am wondering how much the ultra-right cares about the schism anymore? Consider that IRD inter alia came to attack TEC and others not because they care about our beliefs, they do not really, but because they wanted to limit our impact on politics. In one sense they lost when Mr. Obama won. Clearly attacking the influence of TEC did not move the country in their direction.

But in another sense they won. Look at prop 8 in California, the collapsing attendance in Christian churches across the political spectrum, the Roman Catholic peodophile scandals and the collapse of seminary enrollments. The influence of TEC and the other churches is arguably weak and declining. The "post Christian" age does not include voters who ask how to vote at church. TEC membership hit by defections and the difficulty involved in selling a church in conflict is down, as are Presbyterian, Lutheran and others. Even the Southern Baptists have been loosing.

So if your real agenda was always secular, and homophobia (frequently combined with self-hatred) was your motive, why fund the schismatics anymore? They or the times have served. And besides some Christians are actually conservatives, some liberal Christians vote Republican etc. Time to move on and if your erstwhile allies are hurt or broke, oh well. Only eggs object to omelets.


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