The camel's nose is a familiar metaphor, involving small acts and large undesirable acts or circumstances. The most bazaar case of a camel's nose and intended or unintended consequences was the cartoon character, Joe Camel. The cartoon character was both an ad for Camel cigarettes and a reasonably goofy cool sort of character that children liked. It was contended that the camel's nose, in that case Joe's, carried the message to children that smoking was cool. It turned out the camel was understood to be bad for our health. In the end it Joe got whacked on the nose and Joe was out of there.
We are now dealing with another camel's nose and another tent.
Several years ago a memo came to light which has come to be called the Duncan Memo. Item 18 in that memo states, "Insist on an invitation to the Moderator whenever the ECUSA PB is invited."
Later in the memo there are listed items under the heading "We, as bishops in North America…" pledges labled 'a' to 'g.' Items e, f, and g read as follows: "e. We will no longer be at the Table with those who consecrated Gene Robinson. f. we commit to the guerrilla warfare of the next year, g. We will produce a catalog of the present intimidations against those orthodox Episcopalians."
All of this information and more is available in the two part series, "Follow the Money," written by Jim Naughton. The notes came to light in the context of the suit brought against the Diocese of Pittsburgh by two parishes.
The Anglican Communion Network is nothing if not dogged. It keeps on working at a way to get its nose in under the edge of the tent. It keeps up the pressure on shunning the consecrators of Bishop Robinson, it has first this organization and then that one fire on its behalf, it works hard at cataloging all the miseries faced by orthodox Episcopalians.
Consider the camel's nose:
In the past two weeks the Moderator has gotten an invite to be at the Primates Meeting – only at a special session, mind you, but in the tent. The Duncan Memo and later the affirmation in the November 2006 meeting between Global South Steering Committee members and Anglican realignment groups in the US make it clear that an objective of the near future is to have the Moderator present in Anglican Communion meetings whenever the Presiding Bishop is present. Having his nose in the tent isn't enough, but it is a starter.
The Fulcrum Newsletter, February 2007, has included an article, "To Cleave or To Cleave? The Primates' Meeting in Tanzania" by Graham Kings, in which he resurrects the Anglican Communion Institute's idea of "A College of Windsor Bishops" . This college of Windsor Bishops is in effect the continuation of the ANC's strategy of working towards a replacement Province in the US by first developing an interim device that would be a Province in waiting. Kings' article is well done and it is only at the end that one gets to the agenda:
There it is: the interim measure prior to replacement.
Now a non-starter group, Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion, has published an "Interim Compact of Anglican Loyalty," written in such fawning language as to be an embarrassment. The problem is that they have sent this out to parish clergy all over the church in the hopes of turning this piece of garbage into a full fledged petition to the Primates. In it they plea that the
"Subscribers to this Compact pray for decisive action within the general meeting of the Primates at Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, on or about February 13-15, 2007, both to disavow TEC and to support the faithful through Common Cause Partners or a similar venture. The Subscribers believe continuing delay in the American corporate Anglican community will permit further parochial and diocesan deterioration, and precipitate further "balkanizing" of the American corporate Church. We believe irreparable harm will be done to the prospects of restoration and renewal of a unified, robust orthodox Anglican presence if action is delayed until the scheduled decennial Anglican bishops' conference in 2008, or beyond. The Subscribers further believe that a new remedial program limited to Alternative (Alternate) Primatial Oversight would be counterproductive, delaying effective relief."
So.. no APO, go for the gusto. Go for the Common Cause Partners (a subgroup founded by ANC ). Drop the Episcopal Church, and way the Primate, and go for a representative of the Common Cause Partners, who strangely enough is already in Dar Es Salaam with his nose in the tent.
If Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion's first plea is not met, this is what they then propose:
"In the event that the Primates, at their meeting at Dar-Es-Salaam should not find it possible to embrace a sufficient remedy for the American problems or to recommend such remedy be implemented in conjunction with Common Cause Partners or by other satisfactory means, then the Subscribers to this Compact would undertake other actions in fellowship to effectuate the interim objective of making progress toward full communion between the Primates, the Anglican Communion and the orthodox anglicans of North America. Subscribers to the Compact, having no safe harbor of their own resources, as Christians faithful to the Anglican Communion in the Body of Christ, and being variously divided into separate groups or owing allegiance to disparate foreign Primates through both formal and informal oversight relationships, graciously provided by the Primates for emergency help, have determined that:
"THEY WILL SEEK TO CREATE, with Common Cause Partners or with a similar force for Anglican unity and orthodoxy, a temporary Anglican Federation in the United States of America, composed of faithful Anglican jurisdictions, dioceses, parishes and individuals who subscribe to this Compact. The Federation that we envision will comprise a covenanted union of its constituent members dedicated to the higher purpose of reuniting in Christ. The federating action shall be taken, hopefully with the advice and consent of Common Cause Partners and the orthodox Primates, if the Primates' efforts at Dar-Es-Salaam do not result in a sufficient remedy. The prospective Federation, with appropriate clerical and lay participation and accountability, would intend to have a structure and operation that prepares it for admission to the Anglican Communion as a regularized and exclusive province after the Primates and The Anglican Communion shall have restructured the ecclesial landscape to accommodate this new "province-in-waiting" for Anglicans in the United States."
Lay Episcopalians, an organization that can't seem to get it together to have a meeting, and that seems to exist without much body to it, is making a proposal well beyond its abilities. This is a front for the "guerrilla action" promised in the Duncan Memo. The most important piece in this strange "Interim Compact" is the phrase at the end. It is the give away: The notion of a "temporary Anglican Federation in the United States of America" would seek admission to the Anglican Communion as "a regularized and exclusive province." It would be the "province-in-waiting."
And, just so the consistency is really clear: the cleanliness is next to Godliness crowd who won't sit with consecrators of Gene Robinson have extended their promise. They will not sit at Table with the Primate of the Episcopal Church. This table thing has taken an odd turn. First it is refusal to sit with the unclean at the table of the Lord, i.e. at Eucharist. Now it is threatened as a refusal to sit with sinners at the Table of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. The first refusal seems odd, given Our Lord's willingness to eat that last meal with a whole gang of people who he knew perfectly well would abandon him. The second refusal seems perverse, since the invitation is in no way dependent on the relative sanitized character of those invited.
Over at Stand Firm there was an odd note: Greg Griffith just wrote an essay in which he remarks, "The truth is that most on the left have no clue how close Schori came to not being invited. Perhaps one day that evidence can be made public, but for now, suffice it to say that they should be wiping sweat from their brows that she's there at all." Well, I am glad that Greg is in the know. I will confess that I know little except the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement saying that he "decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting." That was quite enough. The objection to his wording has been out there for some time. No special knowledge is required to understand the language of ungracious invitation.
This is all part and parcel of the regular, plodding, exacting effort to bring down the Episcopal Church. Everything is going according to plan, but only so far as those in authority look away, are distracted, are too timid to act, or tragically willing to let it all go.
So here it plays out: the camel Moderator gets the nose in the tent. The plea, seemingly rational and polite, comes from the Anglican Communion Institute and the Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion, to let the camel just a bit further in, in a temporary way. The friends of the Camel, in purity rarely seen in Anglican gatherings, voice increasing discomfort with sitting with the sinners and suggest the Camel is no sinner and a lot better representative of 'real' Anglicans in the US. They invite the Camel further in, and push the Primate of the Episcopal Church out of the tent entirely.
Plans are afoot, some Primates and other Bishops and their advisors are meeting in Kenya, the Lion of Nigeria is growling, the focus is turning to old plans of the Network coming to fruition. The Camel's nose is sniffing at the edge of the tent. If the Archbishop of Canterbury does not whack the Camel now he may discover that he has lost all power and control of things and shortly after the Episcopal Church is squeezed out, he will be too.
These will not be easy weeks. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Perhaps there will even be the growl of the Camel soundly whacked. We can hope.