20 September 2012

Consistency as a Vice, not a Virtue

One thing you have to give Rowan Williams, when he gets something completely wrong, he sticks with it. As the Anglican Communion staggers towards the end of his disastrous arch-episcopal term, he continues to get the issues, the solutions, and even the mission of his office completely wrong. He is truly amazing -- incompetent, but none-the-less amazing.

Ten years of failure, the Covenant debacle, and he still thinks he is in charge, he still wants to blame gays and TEC for the problems, and he still does not know what should have happened. Would he might get to academe faster!

I know he does not get this, but here is a simple truth: the issues in the Anglican Communion are not about gender, gays or even more generically, sex. It is rather about what "Communion" means. A community is a lot less structured than say a denomination. A community is something rather organic and has much less formal boundaries than a denomination. A community does not have room for the idea that excluding someone makes the insiders special, or holy.

Dr. Williams wants a denomination, he attempted to force one on the communion with the odious Covenant. England, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, and the entire Global South spiked the effort. The Covenant is a dead letter, TEC's General Convention's somewhat blurry refusal to approve made the situation a bit muddier, but the end is clear. I suspect Canada and Australia will finally bury it next year.

Denomination remains an idea in play however, if for no other reason, because the staff Dr. Williams assembled thinks it is owed one. Williams still thinks it can happen, if a split between the ABC and a "presidential" person (not that the secretary general knows who might lie in waiting) can be made. He is wrong - again. The Anglican experience is beyond the control of Canterbury. As have the colonies, the churches have moved on. And movement continues.

I suspect it has always been like this. One hand of the church proclaiming liberty to the captives the other proclaiming that they hold the keys. In fact, that is a large part of the argument between Jesus and the pharisees. Had the pharisees seen fit to join in proclaiming the kingdom of God is at hand, the history of the world would be very different.

What should have happened, when +Gene Robinson was elected bishop of New Hampshire was that an archbishop with some backbone should have simply observed to the Global South, that a gentleman does not concern himself with other people's sex lives. That would have been that.

The recent dance of the various parts of the now well and truly fractured AMiA in vain efforts to maintain pseudo-membership in the Communion is instructive. The truth is the Central African puritan bullies were not going to quit the communion.

The same can be said for much of those troubling the CoE. "Forward in Faith" (they actually want to go backwards, but I digress) lobbying for a "third province is also instructive. These people want it both ways, they want to be ultra-holy (they are not) and they want to stay in the Communion. Given a choice, most of them would select the communion. Which is fine with me, community has to have its dissenters or it atrophies.

The fact is communion, community, is hard and messy. Those who choose the sin of institutionalism over hospitality, dislike mess.

Hierarchy on the other hand is easy. All one has to do is exclude anyone who does not agree. Rome has been doing that for centuries. When John 23 and Paul 6 tried to drag Rome into some sort of community, the dictators fixed that in a hurry. Benedict 16 is reputed to have told the cardinals who elected him that he would leave them a, "smaller but more orthodox" church. He is on track for smaller!

How sad that Rowan Williams wants to fix us in the same way Benedict has chosen. His failure to achieve that program is a sign of the communion's strength. There is hope for the Communion yet.

1 comment:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

I get the idea that Rowan Williams, ABC, simply thinks he is too ¨brilliant¨ to be wrong...therefore even though nobody generally knows what his AIM is (or even what he is talking/writing about), he thinks he does...no doubt deep down inside some pocket of muddled/twisted thinking, his plots thicken but disappear like light rain in a draught. Presto, now you see him, now you don´t. I´m especially annoyed with his most recent blabbing about not ¨doing enough¨ for LGBT at Church. Now, that is a stroke of real thinking (even though I think it´s a cover up for his shameful behavior on the Crown Nominations Commission in regard to the Rt. Reverend Jeffrey John)...oh a great ego can even turn a great mind upside down. Onward we go, I hope to never hear another peep from Rowan Williams, the soon to be former Archboggler of Canterbury.

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