Hyperbole is always in fashion, and Bishop Minns as a preacher is given to a talented use of exaggeration. In his letter to the Convocation of Anglicans in North America folk written a few days ago, he ended his letter by saying, "We can all take heart in remembering that CANA was the place where Jesus transformed a disaster into a celebration – I believe that it still is, the miracle continues, and we will see a similar transformation in the coming days."
The fact that I disagree with almost everything Bishop Minns is doing is neither here nor there. I have to admire the over the top description of the wine problem at the Wedding in Cana. Having attended several disastrous wedding parties in my own time I have a sense of disasters in the making. None, I might add had to do with there being too little wine or not doing what mother asked. I think perhaps the wedding in Cana was going OK, and that Jesus, on Mom's suggestion thought a bit more celebration with a bit better wine was in order.
I would much rather think that Bishop Minns believes that CANA is building on a pretty good feast to make it a great one, rather than thinking that everything that gave him space and time to develop his own ministry was part of some disaster. But he doesn't. Well, hyperbole and wine flow aside, his letter deserves critique on other levels. More on that later.
These are interesting days: twice now in the past twenty-four hours I have found myself in agreement with Baby Blue, who unfortunately is fixated on September 30th (otherwise noted as my brother Christopher's birthday.)
I have for a long time now hoped that the Archbishop of Canterbury would simply invite every bishop of the Communion, determined by good standing in their own province, and let it all hang out. In any group of 800 or so participants there no doubt will be some perfectly awful people – several crooks, a couple of embezzlers, the occasional person involved in sexual misconduct, drug addicts – and some folk who make others uncomfortable by their manner of life, exhibited in some way on the spot. Examples of that might include (but not necessarily) bishops forcing themselves on others in order to exorcise them from evil demons, bishops calling other bishops stupid or backward, bishops having had too much to drink, bishops gloating, bishops dallying about with persons of the opposite or same sex for no good reason at all, and generally bishops acting badly. But in a group of 800 folk you have to expect almost anything. The point is why avoid the messiness of the Anglican Communion leadership? Why not just admit it and have the gathering as is? If people behave badly on the spot they can be sent to their room.
In a posting on this blog BabyBlue had this to say, "I am quite troubled by the way Kenneth Kearon handled his media event yesterday, not only for Martyn Minns but for Gene Robinson as well. Opening up the Archbishop of Canterbury's mail and reading it to the press and offering his own spin is just plain wrong (especially when the dissed-bishops are told before their mail arrives). Gene Robinson should not have been humiliated that way (and yes, I am deeply troubled about his position as a bishop - but this was the wrong way to deal with that before September 30) and Kearon's facts about Martyn Minns are just plain wrong (the bishop did not have an irregular consecration - he was elected by the entire Nigerian Anglican House of Bishops, for heaven's sake…"
Well there you are, BB and I agree on at least some of this. Miracles just around the corner!
One question. We know invitations went out. Did non-invitations go out as well? That is, did Bishop Robinson and Bishop Minns receive letters that began, "Dear Bishop, I am sorry to inform you that I cannot at this time invite you to Lambeth 2008 because you are too much a bother…?" What does a rejection letter look like?
Of course they would have to be different, wouldn't they?
The Bishop of Harare might get one that begins, "Dear Bishop: You are an awful man supporting an awful regime. I have no need of you…."
The bishop of anti-Recife might get one that begins, "Dear Bishop: You have forced me to choose between you and, you know, the bishop of the real Diocese of Recife. I have chosen the latter. I know, I know, you are a bishop. You are just not my bishop."
About Bishop Robinson, "Dear Bishop: I know I said in the past that Gay and Lesbian persons are fully members of the Church. I exaggerated a bit. I meant you are full members so long as you are not a bother and talk too much. I really don't have time to listen. Sorry I can't invite you. People will talk."
Bishop Minns might get a really special one. "Dear Bishop: Knowing that you don't like to be told what I think at the last minute I am writing well in advance of Lambeth 2008 to say that I am not inviting you. Of course you are a real bishop in a real province of the Anglican Communion, but you are a real pain. If you are from Nigeria work there until you get permission from The Episcopal Church – then you can go do your stuff in the US. Meanwhile, don't phone us, we'll phone you."
For the Archbishop of Canterbury to get into the judgment business is inviting baby dividing behavior. Perhaps BB is right and the ABC can step back. Better to invite both Bishop Robinson and Bishop Minns, and for that matter any other bishop whose primate certifies him or her as an active bishop of jurisdiction in the province to which they belong – including the scoundrel bishop of Harare, the befuddled bishop of Bolivia, the outrageous Archbishop of Nigeria, and the renegade bishop of non-Recife (if he is actually a bishop in the house of bishops of the Southern Cone.) After all, if we believe IT IS JUST A MEETING, its OK.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has pretty well spelled out that Lambeth is not what it has recently been assumed to be – a synodical proto-conclave capable of making binding decisions for the churches of the Communion. Invitation does not imply cleanliness or moral or political correctness. It mostly implies that the persons attending are indeed bishops of the various national and regional churches of the communion.
Well, BB surprised me again by putting us all on to a wonderful Monty Python video on You Tube – a philosopher's match – worthy of Anglican consideration. (Socrates scores the winning goal, by the way.) See it HERE.