5/16/2006

Eighteen Days of Silence, Three Weeks + to Convention

Its been eighteen days since the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada registered their “grave concern” about proposed legislation in Nigeria that "would prohibit or severely restrict the freedom of speech, association, expression and assembly of gay and lesbian persons,” and about the support of the Church of Nigeria for that legislation. Eighteen days.

As yet there is nothing heard from the Archbishop of Nigeria’s office on this matter.

No doubt he has been busy with other matters. There is a convoluted and quite fascinating read on the relationship between the President of Nigeria’s push for legislation that would allow for him to have a third term and the Archbishop’s support of anti-gay legislation published on Politicalspagetti The third term legislation has been defeated for the moment in the Nigerian Senate.It is unclear just how the current decision by the Senate will be viewed by the Archbishop and how that in turn may affect his response to the mounting criticism of the Church’s support for the anti gay legislation. But it is clear that the Archbishop is a busy man in a very volatile environment. Nigeria needs our prayers, as does the Archbishop.

That being said, eighteen days is quite sufficient one would think for some sort of beginning response by the Church of Nigeria to the Canadian Bishops. Perhaps there has been such a response, but not a public one.

To be fair, I believe there has been no public statement by any Episcopal Church agency or any agency of the Network / AAC on the response by the Church of Canada bishops.

Silence in this case is not exactly golden.

There is a general calm before the storm of General Convention. That does not mean that there is no action. Following rather terse and acerbic remarks on the election in the Diocese of California the Moderator as Bishop of Pittsburgh has written an essay on the Diocesan web site, “Via Media, but which one?” (Interestingly the Network pages do not yet carry this essay.) The Network has been mounting new programs that make it more and more like an alternative church structure: a retirement plan, a church planting plan, a children and youth initiative. Good luck.

Meanwhile the promised ordination of new bishops for CANA, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a subsidiary of the Church of Nigeria is yet to be fulfilled. When and where will those ordinations take place, and who will ordain? Will it be only Nigerian bishops, or will AMiA, Common Cause, or Network bishops take part? Who will be ordained? It all promises to be a mess.

Not a word is spoken on this.

We ought also to realize that the range of players mucking about in the fields of the Lord is greater than many of us had imagined and their sights are aimed at greater targets than the mere troubles of the Episcopal Church. The problems of the maintenance of communion are only beginning. Actions in the Church of Nigeria removing reference to Canterbury, in the Diocese of Sydney regarding the ongoing argument for lay presidency of the Eucharist, in new emerging mission work carried out in existing Provincial boundaries without permission of the Primates of those Provinces, in the question of funding by whom and for what, and in the multiplying of interrelations with small splinter groups of Anglican minded churches all point to difficult times ahead.

We need to end the silence on the troubles to come.

The ‘crisis’ folk would have us believe that everything about the future of the Anglican Communion rests on an adequate response by our General Convention to the Windsor Report. Adequacy in this context means total renunciation of actions taken in the past, total moratoria in the present, and absolute renunciation of much of what modernity has brought and all of what has arisen sense (aka post-modernity). Adequacy in this context means complete capitulation to what is strangely but affectionately called “the faith once delivered to the saints,” a mythological past state of affairs that was the Eden of ecclesial existence. Don’t believe a word of it.

The ‘crisis’ folk know perfectly well that General Convention will not capitulate, at lest not to their satisfaction. So they have taken the position that if it doesn’t (which it won’t) it means we have walked away from the Anglican Communion and they are the righteous remnant. If the Episcopal Church met in General Convention buys this, shame on us; if the Archbishop of Canterbury and his wise associates buy this shame on them (who are those wise folk anyway?); if the Anglican Consultative Council buys this, so be it and shame on them too.

There is no reason at all for us to take part in our own oppression as a church. The Episcopal Church already has timidity enough for caution's sake. There is no reason for us to reenter the time machine and get permanently frozen in a mythological past.

If the Anglican Communion, and the Archbishop of Canterbury as its focus of unity, does not make a stand with us against this lunacy here, it will have to do so in Sydney or in Nigeria or in Bolivia or elsewhere. Or maybe not, since by that time the rather simple and straightforward notion that the Anglican Communion consists of those Churches whose bishops the Archbishop invites to dinner, and who accept, will be gone.

Here’s an idea: Dear Archbishop of Canterbury – invite bishops of Churches you hold in the esteem of communion as you will and accept bishops from those churches who come. (Don’t get into the business of this or that bishop. If they are good enough for the Church that is invited, they are good enough for the guest list.) If some will not eat at the same table as others who are invited, they can stay away. It would be nice if they sent messages of regret. Perhaps some of them would repent themselves of their anger and appear after all. Save a place at the table for them.

2 comments:

  1. There is no reason at all for us to take part in our own oppression as a church. The Episcopal Church already has timidity enough for caution's sake. There is no reason for us to reenter the time machine and get permanently frozen in a mythological past.

    Amen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, the whole of the Anglican Communion rests not on an "adequate" response to the Windsor report, but an ouster of all gay and lesbian persons from every parish, mission and diocese.

    It's the Westboro Baptist Church folks in better vestments and nicer language.

    ReplyDelete

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