10/09/2007

Time to do your homework: Read this.

Simon Mein, a wonderful theologian and scholar has written an essay that is a must read. Titled, "Covenants Old and New" it unwraps the paper and reveals the shaky basis on which current conversations are taking place.

He ends his piece with the following:

"Perhaps we might most helpfully see the Anglican Communion as a kind of spiritual analog of the Commonwealth, which emerged, it seems, to perpetuate a shade of the dissolving empire. Having served its purpose, the Commonwealth is hardly seen any longer as a functioning organization; even its symbolic aspects are slowly slipping away. Perhaps the Anglican Communion could discreetly join the cortege? Or, maybe, it already has."

A great read.

6 comments:

  1. As noted in the comments section of the linked article:

    The expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth in the early 1960s due to the policy of Apartheit, the response of the Fijian junta to expulsion in the 1980s and the Commonwealth support to the eventual overturning of Apartheit and the restoration of South African membership would imply that the institution is more than merely the pale reflection of last empire.

    Indeed, the creation of the Francophonie would seem to emulate the Commonwealth's influence. Hardly a sign of an irrelevant institution.

    Otherwise, an excellent article.

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  2. So what do we mean when we say we believe in one church when we say the creed? Is it just pretty words that might mean something in heaven, but doesn't change anything here on earth?

    Jon

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  3. If the Episcopal Church just decided to go all out open and inclusive and decided there was a great mission to evangelize to the GLBT people of the US and other marginalized groups as well just think of the possibilities. Maybe that quiet still voice you hear whispering in the trees is GOD trying to get the message through to let the African Bishops and their party to go their own way and turn to the work you have at hand in your own backyard.

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  4. Ever since Windsor first suggested the idea, I have thought the covenant concept a bad one. Even if the draft resembled the initial idea, it doesn't, it would still be a bad idea. As the wish list for one minority group among the primates, it is worse.

    We need to say that we have a covenant, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, we have a foundation doctrinal statement, the Nicene Creed, and a single key activity, common prayer. Everything else is something that can be left to the individual provinces.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  5. As I recall, Malcolm (and with a nod toward Canon Mein's metaphor); in fact the Commonwealth wasn't an "irrelevant institution" in a political or economic sense in the '60's or the '80's, or even today. It is, for example, the existence of the Commonwealth that has facilitated the immigration of so many South Asians (and, I imagine, East Asians) into the UK.

    However, to say that it is not "irrelevant" is not to say that nothing has changed, or that the Commonwealth is what it was even 20 years ago. Thus, individual Commonwealth countries have redrafted their own constitutions (most recently, I think, Canada) further distinguishing themselves from their post-Colonial situations; and some Commonwealth countries have chosen to withdraw.

    More to the point, it is relevant, then, to recognize the limitation of Canon Mein's metaphor. In fact the Commonwealth did have some recognizable (and negotiated) legal, political, and economic bonds among Commonwealth states. No such formal bonds exist among the various national churches in the Anglican Communion. None have been negotiated (although some would see a Covenant as such a process). Some have been assumed, and observable - mutual recognition of ministers, for example - but nowhere defined in "treaty" or anything like it; and in some cases (and mutual recognition of ministries has been such a case since ordination of women began in Anglican churches) it has been observed less and less. These have indeed been "bonds of affection" - held because we wanted the relationships, and not by canonical force. So, in one sense, the limitation you point out to the metaphor only strengthens his overall argument.

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  6. No one may ever notice this, but . . .

    I don't think it is easy for an American to understand the Commonwealth. (I mean no disrespect here - it is a pretty alien sort of institution, and many Canadians / Australians etc. are confused.)

    The legal and political ties of Commonwealth states are pretty much non-existent. Mrs. Battenberg is the head of state of several of the countries, but her role in Canada is as Queen of Canada, not as Queen of the UK or of Australia or anywhere else.

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