“There are many cruel Rooms in the mansion, and many deep holes in the Road.” (Hunter S. Thompson, Hey Rube!, Simon &Schuster, pg 132) Dr. Thompson, may peace be upon him, is only a modest prophet, but when he was right, he was right.
In a week of comparative calm in Episcopal and Anglican circles there were strange cries from some rooms in the Episcopal Church and new caution signs posted in the pothole filled Anglican road. We were all easily distracted this past week, the Americans with Thanksgiving and the greed of black Friday, the English occupied with a wretched week in Afghanistan, poisonings in London and an Archbishop of Canterbury visiting Rome.
The Archbishop and the Pope exchanged remarks and the Archbishop made several pronouncements. Here is the only thing I found even obliquely concerning the several wars in which England and the US are involved.
“There are many areas of witness and service in which we can stand together, and which indeed call for closer co-operation between us: the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world marred by conflict and the threat of terrorism…” (From the Common Declaration of the ABC and the Pope)
The pursuit of peace is fraught with diplomatic niceties of language, but one might think that two spiritual leaders of these two quite practical religious traditions could perhaps cut to the chase. They may think of some vague thing called “the Holy Land,” but for people on the ground the names of the places, ideals and images, involve other names – Palestine, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.
It is obscenely polite that neither would mention the damned war in Iraq. They both have been known to make critical remarks about the war on other occasions. To have that war reduced to “parts of the world marred by conflict” is to let too many off the hook.
The Common Declaration was written, of course, by other hands, the work the product of other minds, careful minds, who rather we would read beneath the surface of bland words for other meanings. Too bad. It would have been at least refreshing to read a banner headline that said, “ABC and Pope agree War is Hell.”
In the Papal rooms the cruelty of polite conversation crushes the joy of real engagement every time.
On the western edge of the United States in other rooms the Bishop of San Joaquin has been talking up resolutions to be presented to his Diocesan convention this coming weekend. Fr. Jake has a wonderful summary of what is being considered. Suffice to say Bishop Schofield is not playing out polite parlor conversation. In some rooms of the Episcopal mansion deals are being cut, plots are being confirmed and allegiances are shifting.
The vision that emerges has dioceses that have banded together to form a new Anglican presence under the oversight of some Archbishops of the Global South group. Not surprisingly the Network Moderator is spokesperson for the American Group.
It remains to be seen if the incumbent bishop of San Joaquin is going to really like oversight from one or many of the Global South Archbishops.
Interestingly, although the meeting in Virginia was touted as being between certain American bishops and leaders and the Global South Steering Committee, the meeting was actually between the Americans and the bishop members of the Anglican Relief and Development board, with the single addition of Archbishop Venables.
As I have previously noted the members of the Global South Steering Committee consists of: Archbishops Akinola, Chew, Anis, Kolini, Gomez, Malango, Venables. Fr. Jake notes that “Abps. Gomez (West Indies), Venables (Southern Cone), Akinola (Nigeria), Chew (South East Asia), Nzimbi (Kenya) and Akrofi (West Africa) were present.”
Archbishops Gomez, Akinola, Venables and Chew are part of the GS Steering Committee. All but Archbishop Venables are, along with Archbishops Nzimbi and Akrofi, part of the ARDF. Archbishops Malango and Kolini it appears were not present. Perhaps they have been replaced by Nzimbi and Akrofi? I doubt it.
So it appears that Archbishop Venables was the only addition to prelates otherwise attending the ARDF meeting.
All well and good, but perhaps it would have been useful to state the makeup of this meeting with greater clarity: The GS Website states, “The Global South Steering Committee, at the request of the Global South Primates, recently met with bishops and representatives of eight Anglican Communion Network Dioceses.” To the contrary, it should have read, “Global South Primates already attending the ARDF meeting in Virginia were joined by Archbishop Venables, and met with bishops and representatives of …”
Fr. Jake’s essay makes it clear that Bishop Schofield is taking, or certainly is asked to take, his lead from the GS Bishops. Already, in some rooms there is the cruel cry of “trust me,” when in fact the reality is “do as they say.” Marching to a different drummer is sometimes a sign that you just signed up in a different army, with different generals.
There are indeed “many cruel Rooms in the mansion.” But out in the larger spaces, on the Anglican road there are signs of deep holes. The most interesting this past week is that while the Archbishop of Canterbury has been off to Rome a variety of voices are beginning back home to question if he will want to, or can, last beyond Lambeth 2008. Thinking Anglicans is tracking these columnists and their thoughts.
Who knows how much of this is just talk. Even so there is an interesting pothole in it all. Part of the reported distress of the ABC seems to be the actions of the former ABC, Lord Carey. Rounding out the whole matter is that Andrew Carey, the Archbishop’s son, is a reporter and in the mix. He was interviewed by the Telegraph reporter, denying that either he or his father were out to get Archbishop Williams. l Andrew Carey has every business being a reporter, but we might wonder if he has much business being part of the news as well.
The wide popularity of the Archbishop of York seems to have led to hopes by some that he might replace Archbishop Williams.
But behind all of this is the sense, just now being articulated, that Lambeth 2008 is going to be such a trial for the ABC, such a pothole, that the Anglican Communion will be completely fractured and he (The ABC) will simply walk away.
It appears there are deep holes in the road. But who knows, perhaps it’s just a matter of glare off the oil slicks ahead.