24 January 2011

"more meetings than Jesus ever wanted "

Sue-z and I joined other members of our parish attending the installation of a former curate at in his first parish as rector last week.  The homily for the event was delivered by the dean of the cathedral.  She spoke eloquently of the mutual responsibilities of parish and priest and made a number of serious points.  What stuck in my mind however was her description of the  burden of the rector and especially the observation that one must seek to do ministry in spite of having to attend, "more meetings than Jesus ever wanted."

That wry observation broke up the congregation and especially the clergy who were there. If there is one thing the Episcopal Church and her Anglican sisters lead all of the Christian faith in, it must be meetings. We meet to debate every decision while the Romans simply obey the priest, and the Orthodox assign a person to do something. We are the meeting addicted catholic communion.

This week, in Dublin, some or most or many or some number of primates, presiding bishops, moderators and archbishops will gather for several days. In the revisionist language of the Virginia Declaration and Windsor Report, this gathering is an, "instrument of unity." In the language of the so-called covenant it is slated to become the curia or something like a curia.

These periodic events are called by the Archbishop of Canterbury who sets the agenda. This one has the interesting feature that it is being boycotted or something. Rising to new heights of double-talk so divorced from reality that George Orwell might applaud, the primate of Jerusalem said "... we are not boycotting: we are not attending..." when asked about the web announcement and press release that they won't be there. Right!

The not-boycotting non-attending primates are not-boycotting because they were not asked to provide the agenda and both the primates of Canada and USA are attending. They expect or desire to set the agenda focused on the expulsion or otherwise penalizing of Canada and USA and the invitation list because they do not like the theology of inclusion that is arising from those communities.

Meanwhile demonstrating an ability to juggle ideas that must amaze, Dr. Williams is acting like he read the initial documents creating primates meetings as occasions for sharing, praying and learning, while pushing the so-called covenant that would completely change the meetings into a curial body.

One must wonder if acute cognitive dissonance is a side effect of arch-episcopal office. Mrs. Jefferts Shori can simultaneously push resolutions imposing "moritoria" on the consecration of lesbian and gay clergy while endorsing their full access to church offices, Dr. Williams can set a prayer and sharing meeting agenda while pushing the so-called covenant and ABp. Anis can not-boycot while not-attending.

But then we are a community that says it is about ministry and attends more meetings that Jesus could have ever intended. Maybe we have taken the slogan I proposed for the church some years ago, "living in ambiguity" a bit beyond the edge.

In any case, the primate's meeting will happen. Tea leave readers will observe who is there and who is absent and draw sweeping, important, erroneous conclusions. Right wing blogs will announce that enough members stayed home to form a new church, moderates will note the "not boycotting" comments and some radical lefties will hope it is a trend. None of those things will come to pass. Time to consider ministry and ignore meetings in high places.



Christal said...

So have you heard any erroneous conclusion from the tea leaf readers?

JimB said...

Quite a few actually. I shall be putting a post up about them tomorrow.


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