5/08/2008

All Quiet on the Anglican Front

In the run up to Pentecost there is a sort of quiet pause in Anglican blog land.

Watchdogs are out, data is being gathered by Fr. Jake on the whereabouts of such usurpers as Presiding Bishop Venables and the deposed Bishop of Recife, now just fine in the Southern Cone. Baby Blue is on Kenneth Kearon's case, wondering just why he is in the Philippines. (Is this a copy-cat caper?) She is going on about the Philippine Independent Church and the Episcopal Church of the Philippines at some length looking for sneaky doings. There are all sorts of legal activities regarding property taking place, most of them without great splash interest or moxie. Mostly muttering is all there is. To be fair there is much more interesting stuff going on elsewhere.

Mostly people in Anglican Land seem to be waiting for a shoe to drop. (Is it the other shoe or just a shoe?) Questions are left dangling.

Whatever happened to the letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the bishops, now predicted some weeks ago by Anglican blog notables?

Is GAFCON the gaffe it seems to be, resulting finally in a meeting of the already convinced and convicted set on the pilgrims way to chart a new Anglicanism – one without the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Lambeth filled with objectionable people, and pure as the driven snow?

Who is paying for GAFCON anyway?

How is registration going at Lambeth? I have hear that over 700 bishops now have signed on.

Bishop Robinson can't sign on, because not invited. He will be there however, the shadow of the shame of his dis-invitation hanging like a pall over the gathering.

Bishop Cavalcanti was not invited to Lambeth either, being deposed. Want to bet he will be there as well, hanging around the hospitality suite of the Common Cause Partnership?

The deposed bishop of Harare was not invited, being deposed, but he will not be there, the stink from his activities in Zimbabwe being so great that a visa will not be granted. Going to church in Harare can be rather exciting, since the deposed Bishop has used force to block out regular paid up Zimbabwe Anglicans from worship. Fighting has ensued. Who said going to church wasn't exciting? But there will be no hospitality for the deposed bishop of Harare.

It turns out that the bishops of Pittsburgh will attend Lambeth, trying to make the case for the Common Cause Partners and their takeover scheme. They of course were invited, but Bishop Duncan had not previously indicated that he would suffer actually going. He will bear the burden it now appears, and will go,"Both bishops believe it is important that the diocese be represented throughout the Lambeth Conference, if for no other reason than to provide an alternative perspective on the situation in The Episcopal Church. 'Those who accuse us of abandoning the Anglican Communion will certainly be present and vocal. It is important for us to be able to respond directly to their claims about the situation in The Episcopal Church and our place in the Communion.'"

Sitting on the edge of deposition for abandonment of the communion of this Church (meaning the Episcopal Church) the Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership – whose clear purpose is to work for a "biblical and missionary and united Anglicanism" in North America – really has to make an appearance, if only to show he hasn't left yet.

Then there is the dither about the imminent demise of the Church of England. Hand wringing and great laments, but no good numbers.

The Anglican Covenant idea is mired in deep misery, being now processed to the point where it is hard to know just what is going on, even with flowcharts and more flowcharts. Somewhere, over the rainbow, there may be an Anglican Covenant, but this side of the rainbow, there is just rain. Something like the St. Andrew's Draft, MINUS the appendix "Framework, Procedures for the Resolution of Covenant Disagreements" just might get through, but the flowcharts are enough to put one off the canonical feed bag for a while.

Lambeth has given just a bit of its time to discussion of the Covenant and Lambeth is touted as not being legislative in character, with few plenary meetings. So we are waiting for someone to tell us just how the information from discussions at Lambeth will be expressed in further revision of the Covenant. My wager is that the "thoughts" of the bishops at Lambeth will transmogrify into the stones for the new structure. After all, if the thoughts of the bishops at Lambeth were enough to turn its resolutions into binding "mind of the communion" statements, what is to prevent it happening in a looser, more gentle, Lambeth?

And, as an aside, I wonder just why Anglican Bishops in one of their Plenary meetings need to hear a Roman Catholic Cardinal, who doesn't believe we are a real church with real priests and bishops anyway, tell Anglicans that we have to choose between Catholic and Protestant tendencies and simply get over the compromise at the core of our Anglican experience. The Via Media may seem a bridge with a barrier and border guards, but Anglicans have gotten to know the guards and have invited them to tea and generally lowered the level of belligerency by claiming that both are our heritage. I would submit that the unsightly vision of a church holding in tension very different views of the church may bother Rome, but Rome might do well to look to itself a bit.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop and other Episcopal officers have seen fit to be concerned for the world in ways that point to something else beside the Anglican snits. It is quite refreshing to remember that most of the time we are not thinking of ourselves but of others.

And of course Episcopalians and Anglicans the world over will be focused on Pentecost this Sunday, a feast celebrating the noisy chamber rattling banging about of the Spirit in the Churches. The Spirit is not, thank God, confined to our miserable doctrines, pronouncements and other efforts to box and control. Stand by to be surprised.

There may be no surprise in the waiting, but in the living there are more wonders than we can comprehend.

And the shoes will fall where they may. Then perhaps we can run barefoot in the grass and laugh until the new day.

7 comments:

  1. "Somewhere, over the rainbow, there may be an Anglican Covenant, but this side of the rainbow, there is just rain."

    Oh Mark that is so well said... wish I had come up with it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The expression is "waiting for the centipede to drop the next boot". I'm with you on Cardinal Kasper's speaking to the bishops. Mad Priest's sidebar includes Robert Runcie's observation "According to Rome, I'm a layman. We have to talk about that first".

    ReplyDelete
  3. what about Schofield?

    ReplyDelete
  4. And, of course, the Deputies have been asked to review the St. Andrew's Draft of a Draft Anglican Covenant (and I say "draft" twice to emphasize the provisionality of the whole project) so as to inform our bishops before Lambeth.

    ReplyDelete
  5. J-D Schofield no longer opens mail return addressed to Lambeth Palace for fear it contains his dis-invite.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The covenant as envisioned by the Windsor fabulists is a particularly bad idea. The only thing that might be said for the St. Andrew's draft is that it is no worse than the Windsor Report appendix.

    {If there were an official competition for the year's best example of damning with faint praise, I should enter that!}

    We are not, in spite of the worst efforts of the fundygelicals, a confessional church, nor in spite of the worst efforts of the power seeking, a curial church. Efforts to force us to be both are even more evil than efforts to force us to be one or the other.

    If this is where Canterbury is determined to take the Anglican experience, it is time to wish it well, remember that we are a missionary society and move on.

    FWIW
    jimB

    ReplyDelete
  7. I should have emailed you about this first! In any case, BabyBlue has nothing to worry about. I asked a member of Synod if the whole controversy was debated at all, and the answer was "no."

    We agreed that people on the ground don't think this whole storm in the Communion is a big deal, and there are things inside the house to fix instead. Some of them, ehem, have been prompted by your comments.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.