28 February 2011

Of what are they afraid

A dear friend describes his father's account of his first vestry meeting:
Elementary school chairs scaled for children, were set around three sides of a matching table. At what was clearly the head of the table was a single impressive, adult sized armchair (throne?) for the use of the rector.
After reading the so-called "Study Guide" issued by the Church of England, it is possible to visualize the British House of Bishops as that table with two large chairs.

The rector in our parish was afraid of honest fair debate because he thought he had to win. He was in short a prototype for the current incumbents in York and Canterbury. The failed administrations of York and Canterbury are marked by an interesting combination of hubris, elitism and fear.

  • As noted in the Press Release of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, there is a persistent pattern of behavior associated with the so-called "Covenant."
    • No discussion or amendments are permitted. The "take it or leave it" attitude applies not only to the members of the church of England but to the antonymous individual churches. So Nigeria and Canada are being told to have no opinions, no objections and no ideas. I am sure their bishops are pleased to be so instructed.
    • The "study guide" issued to the diocese is a propaganda piece which actually tells its readers to "rejoice" in their single option -- approval. While the English House of Bishops has not commented, I wonder if its members "rejoice" be told what to think by the ACC staff?
    • Various attempts to open discussion of the (really very weak) draft have been ignored or rebuffed. The news release notes a representative sample of a large number of incidents.
  • The topic of the last Lambeth, at least two primates meetings and many of Dr. Williams' comments are "the role of bishops" or "the ministry of bishops." Why is that? I submit we can observe the reason.

    When +Gene Robinson was bishop-elect but not yet consecrated, Dr. Williams called a conference of bishops (he never bothers discussing anything with laity, he does from time to time attempt to dictate to us.) At that meeting, a bishop told TEC's Presiding Bishop that to avoid further conflict he should "veto" the election. He was shocked when the Presiding Bishop explained he had no right to veto anything. (Bp. Griswald has described the conversation publicly.)

    Shortly after that meeting, about the time +Gene was consecrated, we started hearing from the Archbishop and his well-bullied staff, about the role of bishops. Hmmm.... So we colonials got it wrong and Dr. Williams and his myrmidons are out to fix us.

I suppose the effort to stifle comment is sensible in one way. The draft is pathetic, and cannot stand up to examination. So cutting off debate and shouting "rejoice" is one of a disappointingly few available tactics. It is of course intellectually dishonest and elitist but then that is a fair description of Dr. Williams' administration of Canterbury.

It is time to reject the so-called covenant. Perhaps we should treat that the way some defenders attempt to frame it. They tell us we must vote yes as anything else will be seen as a vote of no confidence in the administration of Dr. Williams. What they miss is that this is a good reason to vote no. Incidentally, eventually the vestry voted no confidence: the parish grew stronger.


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