6/23/2008

GAFCON gaffs and the need to keep awake.

The GAFCON gaffs of the past two days will require some explanation, and then we will need to continue being watchful.

First, on a light note, (light except for those of us who are miffed because not chosen,) it turns out that Susan Russell who has a day job, is not in Jerusalem, so being on the banned list at GAFCON is an honor without required presence. So just who among the banned eight are in Jerusalem? Bishop O'Neill and the Rev. and Mrs. Edmunds for sure - they may not be at GAFCON but they are in Jerusalem. Colin Coward in a comment on Ruth Gledhill's blog intimates that he, Davis, Louie and Scott are there. Susan Russell is not. It turns out neither is Scott Gunn. He is in Rhode Island. So at least two persons being banned are not present at all, and perhaps others.

Meanwhile, on a much more serious vein, Changing Attitudes reports that on the banning day there was a further report of the beating and arrest of three Changing Attitude Nigeria members in Lagos. This, the morning after the Archbishop of Nigeria had difficulty remembering that any mistreatment of gay and lesbian people takes place in Africa.

When there is next a press conference I hope Iain Baxter, "the only Gay at GAFCON" (read Gledhill's blog on this) will ask yet some more questions concerning the beatings and arrests in Lagos and the exclusion of infectious persons from GAFCON environs.

This cannot be a happy time for the press office of GAFCON... the gaffs light and serious keep mounting up.

Several writers have suggested that perhaps it is time to ban GAFCON... to stop talking about it altogether. When it makes news it is an embarrassment to us all, when it doesn't it is just blither. No news in this case is greater peace and silence.

A good argument can be made that the leadership now sees that it cannot take whole provinces out of the Anglican Communion so it is about an alternative: the development of a second fellowship of Anglican Churches still related to Canterbury, but not those awful infectious people they have banned, and not the bishops who ordained Bishop Robinson, and not the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada, etc.

The problem is, while many of those at this gathering are trying to make the connections, share ideas, hope for the future, and all the rest of the things we do at conferences, some are meeting behind closed doors, in strategy sessions, or as the "leadership" and are planning to drag the Anglican Communion through a patch of hell and burn off the chaff of apostasy and other malcontents.

So I don't buy the notion that the realignment gang is opting for a more modest option...not yet. The take over of the Anglican Communion is a long term process and if the realignment crowd must rest a while in the world of accommodation, where it claims to be a fellowship of real Anglicans within the shell of the remnants of the old, so be it.

But that fellowship will be working to remake the Anglican Communion into a world wide church with a head elected by a curia (read Primates) who will for sure demand to be representative of blocks of people, so that in effect the Global South Primates group will dictate the terms of office and elect the Metropolitan. They will work for a Covenant with a clear disciplinary code and separate out the sheep from the goats early on - don't sign don't come. From the front end they will exact an entry fee consisting of agreement to a statement of belief, or a covenant, or some other screening device.

They will do all this at a time when there is no international or extra Provincial control of what happens in particular Provinces. This is as true in Nigeria as it is in the US. Many Anglican Church constitutions make the Synod of that Church the ultimate authority over matters of discipline. So this new "fellowship" will be among other things continuously pushing for a way to detach dioceses from their Provinces and let them float where they will to new arrangements within the "fellowship." The first move is to discredit the jurisdiction of Provinces. This fellowship is the way.

If the fellowship within the Anglican Communion can do that, then the next step is to anchor the Communion in a new order - rule by the Primates, with a oath of conformity, etc.

So it takes fifteen or twenty years. By that time a number of the players will be off the field, but the play will still be on.

I do buy the argument that we need to laugh a lot more and go about our business a lot more (as in Susan Russell whose day job consists of being a minister of the Gospel, etc.) We need to get a grip on the fact that the realignment community will eventually be exhausted in the struggle. But all of this - laughter, doing the work of the Gospel, keeping our strength up by actually doing what life in the faith requires, etc - does not mean we can give up on the call to be watchful.

I do not believe we can ignore GAFCON and its gaffs. The conversations outside the meeting spaces and in the planning and strategizing sessions among the GAFCON leaders will be brought out as reasonable options for a group that doesn't want to split the Communion or as a smoke and mirrors face saving effort for a failed plan. But what if, either way, these are simply first steps in a process that doesn't depend on seemingly failed plans or reasonable options, but uses either as momentary events in a long range strategy?

Stay awake!

13 comments:

  1. It will be interesting to see the positive spin that will be foisted at the conclusion of General Convention '09. GAFCON may be stumbling around, but that GC will be the notorious beginning of the end for TEC. Wait til the smoke and mirrors tricks don't work on the average people in the pews. Wait until they see the full charge of SSBs beginning to appear in a Prayer Book revision. There won't be enough smoke to cover that mess as a mass exodus quickens. Not to worry, though. The vacated sold church properties will pay the considerable bills coming to TEC afterwards.

    This is the only Church where it's alright to lose people by the hundreds and thousands so long as the revisionists get to continue to be at play.

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  2. Mark,

    Your call to be awake, watchful and faithful ...and laugh--Yes! And thank you.

    --margaret

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  3. Gosh - these guys are so troublesome.....remind me, what did they do to "tear the fabric of the Communion" back in 2003?


    Pls note the recentletter of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury (re the Dud at Barts)....the Archbishops say clergy can seek to persuade the Communion that Lambeth 1.10 is wrong...but cannot merely "disregard" agreed positions...not with integrity, that is. GAFCON exists because some clergy think they are free to merely "disregard" the bible and agreed Anglican Communion positions at will..... maybe a close eye should be kept on those who actually tore the fabric of the Communion??

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  4. Mr Gunn and Ms Russel, who are on a different continent, must really be exceedingly wicked to merit this...

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  5. So what if hundreds of Anglican bishops are ready to leave the Communion? We are smarter than they are. It will all go away.
    (Repeat 12 times and get 12 reappraiser bishops to say it along with you).

    They are just a "few" who don't want to be with "us".

    And "VOILA!"...all is well.

    Take a look at the "small trickle":

    http://www.gafcon.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=62&Itemid=29

    Bet it won't go away.

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  6. I predict that the new God Hates Fags Communion will end quickly in civil war. The Anglo-Catholics and the Anglo-Calvinists are already sharpening their knives. The marriage of convenience between American right wingers and African bishops will end as soon as American imperial ambition runs into the wall of African nationalism.

    As for homophobia continuing to be politically popular, I've noticed that antigay marriage laws are passing by narrower and narrower margins with each election. The initiative in California is too close to call at the moment. Time does not seem to be on the side of the segregationists. The Forty and under crowd likes their gay friends and relatives. When the current generation of troglodytes finally dies off, the opposition to same-sex matrimony will seem as remote and exotic as the arguments against mixed race marriage.

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  7. Mark, first of all it's "gaffe" not "gaff". Sorry, but seeing you consistently misspell it brings out the schoolmarm in me. ;)

    Second, if your goal is to understand the opposition, rather than merely snark at them, you revisionists really must examine your own track record. You believe your cause to be just, and this gives you a warm glow of righteousness and a feeling that the end justifies the means. But how might your actions seem to an outside observer?

    Frank Griswold signed onto the Lambeth agreement in 1998 that said changing the definition of Christian marriage (which is what this is all about) would tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest level. Then he went home and set in motion the changes that would do just that. Katharine Schori agreed to the Dar es Salaam statement -- an account at the time had her weeping in frustration and reluctance as she did so. Yet later on she attempted to deny that she had agreed after all, to the incredulity of those who witnessed her doing so at Dar.

    The revisionist position from the first has been that they were not going to change the definition of marriage -- "it's just a blessing" has been your constant refrain. Yet we see that the California dioceses have leaped on the gay marriage bandwagon without the slightest hesitation, while New Westminster has announced they are "studying the issue" with an obvious view to doing the same thing. Didn't these people sign onto the Windsor report, which called for a moratorium on all such acts? (And don't bring up the border crossing issue -- the orthodox bishops only promised not to do these without invitation, and even if they had in fact broken their word, is it any kind of argument to say "He's disobeying, so that means I can disobey too"? Would that work in a court of law?)

    At the end of the day, can you honestly look on your tactics with a clear conscience? Can you say that you did not lie, dissemble, or mislead the orthodox about your true intentions? If they don't trust you, and don't want any more dialogue with you, why do you suppose that is?

    - Ellie in T.O.

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  8. Ruth Gledhill has just posted an amazing piece, revealing that Howard Ahmanson is present at GAFCON as a delegate. No point in my quoting or paraphrasing; read the original.

    http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/06/whats-going-on.html

    I take back many of the "smart" comments I have made at Ms. Gledhill's expense in the past.

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  9. Yes, Allen...the same way all good Christians rushed away from those revisionist churches in the 1960's who dared offer a place at God's table to non-whites.

    Bet they're sorry now for having to shut their doors because everyone left.

    Oh wait...it didn't happen that way, did it ?!

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  10. I too take back all the catty things I've said about Ruth Gledhill after reading that article.

    I'm not the least bit surprised to see that Ahmanson was there. He's footing the bill, after all.

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  11. Ellie...thanks for the spelling correction.. maybe. The spell checker didn't pick it up because there is of course a word gaff and in addition gaff is an alternative (admittedly a minor one) for gaffe. At any rate, never again, maybe.

    On the matter of the revisionist or "my" track record, I have both little and lots to say.

    The little: You are mostly wrong. The long term intention, clearly stated by most of those of us who in the so called "revisionist" crowd, is that we are working for full inclusion of all people both in the church and in the society.

    The lot: I have lots to say about progressives being charged with telling lies, dissembling and misleading, but this is not the place and I am in poor humor to attempt an answer.

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  12. Allen,

    Once again, reality check.

    There were supposed to be 280 bishops at the conference, a substantial number of them not in the Anglican Communion now. The Gaffe attendance list, unlike those at Via Media and Integrity events is a well kept secret, so we do not know how many actually showed up. What we do know suggests that 280 is over-stated.

    Consider that pre-gaffe, the number of English bishops we were told would be there ranged from 8 to 25, and in fact there seem to be three. Consider that a good many of the bishops that were claimed in advance were bishops from prior schisms. That is the were from entities like Province of Christ the King.

    Now I will defend those men and say they are really bishops, but they are certainly not Anglicans who would "leave" as they are not inside the communion now. Other examples abound the Anglicans Missing In Action bishops are not in the communion, and cannot therefore leave. That is several more of the purported 280.

    Indeed if Bp. Schofield is an example, the few who are leaving TEC with or without our boot print on their cassocks, at least claim they want a place within the communion. The clarion call of the arch-heretic of Nigeria for a new church was met, as near as we can tell inside the gaffe with less than enthusiasm.

    I am sure some will leave. Some, like the sometime bishop of Pittsburgh, have no choice. Their actions have placed them outside and they will be deposed. But(!) hundreds?

    I don't know how many sycophants +Akinola has ordained, but add those to the half dozen or so Americans who are likely to get invited out: +Fort Wayne, +Quincy, +Springfield (Illinois) and one or two others, toss in two or three Canadians, and probably zero English and you do not have a particularly long procession.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  13. Ellie in T.O.

    Here in Mexico schoolmarms usually do a better job of researching their topic before publishing their paper. Seems that you do quite a bit of your own revision.

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