Keeping our eyes on the prize, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, etc, is hard enough these days, what with unending war, America land the last bastion of imperial power, and the fundamentalist hold on American religion. The temptation is great to get distracted by more localized issues where we can stand on principles that don't require actually dealing with anything of substance.
So it is that we have been provided a game where if we get caught up in the movement of the shells we can become obsessed with finding the pea and distracted from what may be more important – perhaps the irrelevance of the pea except for our gamble on its placement and the relevance of our misplaced treasure.
The Anglican Scotist has an interesting take on the shell game that constitutes much of what is going on in Anglican Land these days. Titled, "Hypotheses on the Schism," the author suggests that perhaps we might just let it go and move on, in spite of the conservative charge that progressives are faithless slobs and in spite of the power grab by Primates and others. I've been commenting for some time on the use of the shell game idea by those whose primary interest is in keeping the Episcopal Church preoccupied so that it fails to keep its eye on the prize.
Now we have another sort of game, this time with the Archbishop of Canterbury as front man and the fuzzy use of numbers interpreted by a church paper in England as the shells. Fr. Jake gives a good summary of the dust up occasioned by the publication of numbers and the take on it by a commentator. The dissenter blogs loved it because it would appear, as they watched the shell game proceed that there was a prize in there somewhere, a prize having to do with beating the Episcopal Church soundly about the ears. On the question of interpreting the numbers, enough said.
What I can't understand is who gives a damn? Here are what the numbers are about. The question was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) how many of the Primates (P) of the Anglican Communion and members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) thought either (i) that the Joint Standing Committee of their two bodies (JSC Prmates/ ACC)did a good job of evaluating the efforts of Episcopal Church House of Bishops (HoB) to adequately address the questions posed by the Primates in their Dar es Salaam communique (DSC) (ii) or more directly, that the HoB did adequately address the questions posed by the Primates. All of this of course in relation to the Windsor Report (WR) as interpreted by the Primates (P) and particularly by the Primates of the Global South Group (GSG). This is confusing enough to warrant a diagram:
ABC --> P & ACC --> JSC --> HOB --> DSC =======P/GSG-->WR
(or more directly) \> HOB --> DS ============= P/GSG -->WR
What the ABC is really asking is has the HoB conformed to the Windsor Report? The same old question again, and with it the same old problem: the Windsor Report is a REPORT not the conclusion. Its recommendations have become a litmus test for inclusion in the Anglican Communion again and again, mostly at the insistence of the dissenter community in the US and their companions elsewhere in the Anglican World. But at no point has there been agreement that the Windsor Report is the defining document as to what constitutes the Anglican Communion and the realignment community, the dissenters and the Global South Primates know it.
But suppose the Windsor Report was holy writ, and suppose the JSC report on how the HoB did in responding to questions raised by the Primates was flawed, and suppose the Archbishop's questions were other than a shell game. The end result would be that (surprise surprise) some people thought that the HoB did OK, some did not and some didn't know. Suppose the report card had been really bad, that everyone thought the HoB didn't do the job they were asked to do?
Those who think that a good grade is important, like those who have invested in the pea being under one particular shell, will be really interested in the outcome. They might lament if the grade were not good enough, whatever that means. The dissenters might dance with glee at a bad grade since it would confirm that the HoB is as bad a crowd as they claim them to be.
But who gives a damn? Suppose it had gone the other way and the HoB good great grades? Some are still hoping that might happen when the ABC speaks on the matter. I suppose I would be pleased if the ABC said we had done well.
Still, either way if we get all embroiled in this stuff we are distracted from the prize, the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.
As near as I can figure, any answer that requires a diagram just to unwrap is of the evil one. Let our yes be yes and our no be no. And perhaps let the question be straight forward or not at all. The shell game is a con of some sort.
Suppose the Episcopal Church just said it: Yes, with all due restraint we will ordain others to the episcopate whose manner of life will be difficult for others and yes we will call blessed relationships that exhibit holiness whenever we are invited to do so. And blessed are those who take no offense in our doing these things.
Meanwhile if we must suffer, let it be with those who suffer, and if we live in joy, let it be with those who are joyful. All this mess is suffering without joy.