Here is a reason to be glad to be an Anglican

The Living Church online reported today a remarkable incident in which Archbishop Desmond Tutu, while in Seattle to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Cathedral, was handed three bullets by a man who came up to him and talked to him as he was leaving a reception with the Dean, Robert Taylor.

The article is short, and good.

What struck me as so remarkable, and yet somehow so very much like Archbishop Tutu, is that he talked with the man, received the bullets from him, calmly handed them to the Dean and continued on his way.

Nothing is reported about what the man said to the Archbishop, but the act of handing over the bullets says a lot.

I am thankful that the encounter included this exchange, and I hope the police take this exchange into account in their resolution of the matter with the man who reportedly had been convicted in the past of a felony.

More, I am thankful that the Archbishop was there with Dean Taylor, who as we recall was one of the candidates for bishop in the diocese of California, and gay. Originally from South Africa, Dean Taylor is a close friend of the Archbishop. The celebration of the Cathedral's life might have been wonderful in itself, but the Archbishop's visit at this time was no doubt an profound sign of support of for a good friend.

Chalk it up to a good thing about the Anglican Communion that the support between two Anglican friends in these times, wrenchingly violent to the integrity and personhood of so many, also brought, even for a moment, the encounter with another, perhaps not of this fold, beyond the edges of possible violence.

It was a moment of peaceful interchange and of grace. May the Archbishop, the Dean and the unnamed man all find that moment one of surprise and joy.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This story is so powerful that I almost think it must be a parable; which I guess it is.

    What if we began to tell the stories again about what it means to be an Anglican?

    I know it can be a cliche'd term, but in all seriousness, this event seems to have markings of the Spirit all over it!

    Thanks be to God.

  3. "What if we began to tell the stories again about what it means to be an Anglican?"

    What if being Anglican meant being a Christian who reads scripture and tradition, not as a rule book and a set of propositions to which one must pledge adherence, but as a living means of grace and growth?

    What if our congregations became welcoming places for people to explore closeness to God that might take them away from proscriptions and prohibitions, but to a genuine spiritual maturity that was open to the new and different?

    There is some speculation in congregational studies that once people mature past a very conventional way of practicing faith, but really begin to question and juxtapose doctrine with experience and intuition, they no longer feel welcome in most parishes. And there seems to be some reason ordained ministers like to keep it that way.

    So what if we could be open to the new without being condemned for failing to be "traditionally" faithful Christians?

  4. obadiahslope18/5/06 7:20 PM

    Why can't scripture be both prospoitional (at least in part AND a living means of grace? Many anglicans think so and try to live thereby.

  5. Obadiahslope, how and where is scripture propositional? I (and I think most scholars) understand it as a narrative of human experience of God, mostly poetic (rather than literal) in its truth.

    Of course, there are a few important places in which direct commands are issued, but they are still embedded in the narrative of the human-divine encounter. They can't be separated from their context, as hard as some people try.

    And those very few "propositional" things (like "God is love" or "Jesus Christ is Lord" or even "I AM the LORD your God") are open to interpretation as to what they mean. It's the ongoing interpretation, rather than a literal following, that is the means of grace.

    I can't fathom the idea that anyone is experiencing much grace in the persecution of those Christians in same-sex relationships--except perhaps the pseudo-grace of smugness in the illusion of their moral superiority.

  6. Wendy,

    I love the passion and conviction with which you speak what you have found to be truth, both on this post and even moreso in the previous one. I hope however that you might be open to the truth others have found in Jesus Christ. As you have said Scripture is open to interpretation, and by extension so too is the Windsor Report, Canon Law, the BCP, and all of life. To be an Anglican is not to live up to propositions (Scriptural or otherwise) but to be authentically Christian by sharing the (very) little piece of the Truth which by God's grace we have been given with others who carry with them a different, but equally valid piece of God's Truth.

    This story of ++Tutu which we have been blessed to read on a blog by a Anglican Priest is an example of just that. He saw God in this story and decided to share it with us. So too we see God everyday. As we experience God's grace a little more each day so too our piece of the Truth is made a little more sure.

    Thank you Mark for making me aware of this wonderful story of God working in the heart of a convicted felon.

  7. spankey, I'm not sure why you think I'm not open to "the truth others have found in Jesus Christ."

    It's that very truth (an infinitesimally small portion of which I believe I have found as well) that leads me to believe that openness, rather than condemnation of those who differ or who may have a broader range of interpretation, is the road to deeper truth.

    An excellent book that reconfirms this is Andrew Shanks' "Faith in Honesty." Unfortunately, its hefty price tag will mean that it won't get the readership it deserves.


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