10/26/2006

Hot Dogma, Mild Mustard, Cold Drink: Anglican Indegestion in October.

Titusonenine, the work of Canon Harmon of South Carolina, occasionally lightens the load, as it did on Tuesday, October 24, when it posted and linked to an article by Steve Levin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. ( I must, by the way, thank Kendall Harmon and all the gang he must have with him for a supurb job of gathering information.)

Mr. Levin is a fine writer on matters religious and otherwise and this article is no exception even if it primarily concerns the selling of hot dogs from an emporium in Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, called, naturally Hot Dogma. Now, says the story, they have had to give up that name because a restaurant in Miami, Florida, had the name “Dogma” and this seemed too close to that name for comfort. (Thanks to "WatchMeEatAHotDog.com" for the pic.)

Hot Dogma is of course also available just next door in the Diocesan offices of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where the Bishop of Pittsburgh, also Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network (nee The Network of Anglican Dioceses and Parishes,) has home offices. Among the more interesting pronouncements from the Bishop’s mouth these past few days are the following:

At an Address delivered at Nashota House on the occasion of receiving an Honorary Doctorate, the Moderator says,

“I want to be so bold as to suggest the following: that Anglicanism’s practical magisterium – its reliable teaching authority — has been its Book of Common Prayer, and that without a restored Book of Common Prayer, reasserting the theological propositions of medieval Catholicism as reshaped by the English Reformation, best represented in the prayer book of 1662, Anglicanism will continue its theological disintegration apace. For that Western Church whose popular and practical believing was more nearly lex orandi, lex credendi than any other tradition — for that Western Church whose practical magisterium was its prayerbook — a fixed prayer book is essential. For a tradition that has a separate magisterium, Vatican II-style liturgy is a possibility. For us as Anglicans, it is, quite demonstrably, not. Forty years of alternative texts and expansive language have produced an undiscipled people and a theological wasteland. We have become a Church that actually does believe, in the words of one eucharistic canon, that we are “worthy to stand before [Him].” (10) How staggeringly un-Scriptural and un-Anglican!”

Several commentators have suggested that he might read, or at least quote the rest of the sentence in that canon. While the Bishop has not said we need to return to the English Book of 1662 the implication is clear that we need to turn back the clock. Perhaps this will satisfy the 1928 Prayer Book crowd.

He also said the following:

“Things will never return to the simplicity of one Anglican bishop having authority over one Anglican territory. What was lost by the whole of Western Christendom at the Reformation of the 16th Century has now been lost by Anglicanism in the Reformation of the 21st Century.”

What the Bishop doesn’t mention is that within the Episcopal Church he and every other bishop is bound by oath to respect the authority of bishops in their territory. But then, its Reformation time, so all pledges made at ordination are up for grabs.

And speaking of the “Reformation of the 21st Century” the Moderator is willing, humbly no doubt, to position himself. Early on in his address, in giving thanks to Nashotah House, to his wife, to his colleagues in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, etc, he thanks all of them who “… have supported me and freed me to be at the center of the work of Reformation in our day.”

The Moderator clearly sees himself as “at the center of the work of Reformation.” So, that is what he believes is going on in the challenge to what he calls “the other” Episcopal Church. It is a reformation. We will see. It looks more like counter reform to me.

Following remarks that clearly indicate that The Moderator would turn back the clock on the canon regarding remarriage, he then addresses the matter of the ordination of women, not long forgotten in the mix of folk he was addressing:

“To point 3) – the ordination of women – I do not wish to speak, which you will regard as this address’s one avoidance. My own support for women in holy orders is well known. Global Anglicanism has said that there are, in fact “two integrities” here, both arguable from Holy Scripture, and – to employ Hooker’s method — less so from Tradition. I am convinced that an honest century of reception will sort this one out. I am also persuaded that our God has challenged us to deal with this issue, either because He does intend to bless this new understanding or because He has it in mind that we Anglicans will best find ourselves again in the institutional and relational charity it will require of us as a dynamic and faithful Anglicanism re-emerges.”

We need to clearly understand that the Moderator believes that IF necessary for this new reformation we may be required by God to step back from ordaining women. If the clock can be turned back on remarriage after divorce, which the Moderator claims had the seeds of “the confirmation of a bishop in a same-sex relationship in 2003 (as) a reasonable follow-on,” it can be turned back on the ordination of women.

So much for Hot Dogma.

Now a bit of mustard:

The address has in its footnotes a confirmation of a point made by Thinking Anglicans in its query, Is Dallas seeking any other primatial oversight?” The text released by the Diocese of Pittsburgh is the one written last July 20th, when the Diocese of Dallas was indeed a signatory, but the posting on Pittsburgh’s pages on 10/24 corrects that. Dallas, it appears, has been too busy to replace its July 3rd statement either. What the footnote in the Address, delivered October 25th, states is this, “Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield have appealed for Alternative Primatial Oversight or Relationship. The Bishop of Dallas has withdrawn from the request, but the Bishops of Albany are considering joining the request.”

So, on the 24th, Quincy replaces Dallas, and on the 25th, Albany is considering. The plot thickens, maybe! I have not yet seen the wording of Quincy’s “sign on” decision. I’m sure its out there somewhere. And who knows what is happening in Albany?

Thinking Anglicans raises a good question: Is Dallas seeking any other primatial oversight?

In what is increasingly a period of deep suspicion, I think we may be getting more of the shell game: Some Dioceses try one thing (APO) which everyone agrees doesn’t exist, but hey, if we talk about it enough maybe it does. Other Dioceses go straight for direct oversight by the Archbishop of Canterbury, without passing Go.

Now there have been occasion of direct oversight by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the past: these are dioceses that are “extra-provincial” to Canterbury. Unlike APO, which messes around with the boundary issues of bishops, the “extra-provincial” dioceses assigned to Canterbury have been assigned by various agreements. In the clearest of the cases involving former dioceses of The Episcopal Church, Cuba became extra-provincial to Canterbury with actual oversight from various sources – Canada, the US Ninth Province, and The West Indies I believe. But the decision to do this was made with the clear approval of the Episcopal Church and it involved an overseas diocese. Canons provide for such possibilities in that instance.

But if Dallas wants to go for Primatial Oversight from Canterbury, using anything like the “extra-provincial to Canterbury” model, it would seem the approval of the Episcopal Church would be needed, and I am not sure the Canons will allow this.

But the point is, try one imagined possibility, try another, and keep trying until it seems OK or until everyone gets tired and decides that the mediation called for by the Moderator is better than actually saying, “Go, but we are right behind you claiming the Diocese of Dallas or Pittsburg vacant and electing new leadership.”

Whatever Dallas is up to, and whatever the Moderator has in mind in his efforts to turn the clock back, we need to stay the course. We are way past simply nice. We are ready to say good by and God’s speed. The Episcopal Church needs to get back to the business of growing and looking to the future.

For something to drink while munching:

Read the excellent article on the future work of the Episcopal Church (the real one, you know, with KJS as its next Presiding Bishop) by George M. Clifford, titled ANGLICAN AGENDA on the Daily Episcopalian pages.

6 comments:

  1. Mark,

    Am I the only one savouring the ironic joke that in the words of the Moderator, one finds cause to suggest the "Prayerbook Society" with its idolatry of the 1028 book is a group of modernists? LOL!

    FWIW
    jimB

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  2. oooppsss!

    Make that 1928 book. Typo time!

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  3. I have been admonished for referring to the schismatics as fundamentalists, but this sort of thing is why I do so. Duncan's desire to take the church back to a purer time that never was is classic fundamentalist thinking.

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  4. Bill Carroll28/10/06 6:37 AM

    "In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you."

    God (first person, Father) has made us worthy to stand before God in the redeemer (second person, fully God, fully human). Does Bishop Duncan also question the orthodoxy of the ancient collect appointed for 2Christmas and also listed under the title "Of the Incarnation" in the BCP?

    "O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

    Athanasius could have written this portion of Eucharistic Prayer B. Would the bishop question his orthodoxy too? The 1979 Prayer Book, as well as the current trial liturgies, are deeply rooted in the faith and practice of the early Church. They are also superior, theologically, to any previous Anglican Prayer Book, certainly to both 1662 and 1928.

    I'll agree with Bishop Duncan about one thing. The consecration of Gene Robinson and blessing of same sex unions follow logically from the theology of the 1979 Prayer Book and subsequent trial liturgies. But only because these liturgies faithfully embody the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our time.

    Orthodoxy does not mean repristinating a mythical golden age. It means dwelling within the fulness of the mystery of Christ, as this is expressed in the Holy Gospel and summarized in the Catholic Creeds.

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  5. amen, bill.

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  6. Back to the business of growing? The numbers say this hasn't been ECUSA's business for quite some time.

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