8/08/2008

Lambeth Flotsam and Jetsam (with some corrections...)

A few bits of Lambeth flotsam and jetsam:

(i) Who is this man to the right? Well, he is The Rt. Rev. James Jones of Liverpool. For some reason Ruth Gledhill mentioned in an article titled, Commentary: Rebellion in the Church's Ranks, "...bishops, many of them senior, are beginning to circulate some Anglican "whispers of discontent" about the leadership of Dr Williams. They have even begun speaking of another diocesan, a thrusting, youngish, photogenic evangelical, who might be suited to take his place." She of course did not mention his name. Damian Thompson in his blog for the Telegraph steps up to the plate and gave a possible identification. He writes, "She (Ruth Gledhill) talked about a "photogenic youngish evangelical" being talked up as a possible successor. That strikes me as an excessively flattering description of James Jones of Liverpool, but he's ambitious enough, that's for sure."

So once again the rumors arise that somehow Archbishop Rowan Williams is headed out the door and Bishop Jones is a thought. Who knows?

(ii) While there was considerable wringing of hands and moans of "ain't it terrible" concerning the absence of the Provinces that boycotted Lambeth, and considerable commentary on the exclusion of Bishop Gene Robinson, no one in either the press or the official voice of the Conference had much to say about the absence of bishops working in North America part of various provinces and excluded from invitation, and almost nothing about the GAFCON notion of an alternative North American province. Most of those bishops (Minns, Anderson, etc) were related to Provinces that refused to come of course, but some few - the deposed bishops of Recife and San Joaquin - are bishops in good standing in other Provinces even if deposed in others. They were rightly excluded, but their Primate - Presiding Bishop Venables - saw fit to attend Lambeth. Apparently the matter of principle - "we will not attend if all our bishops cannot attend" - which seems to have operated in Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya - didn't make it as a principle in the Southern Cone.

The GAFCON alternative Province in North America got the back of the hand from Lambeth in its push for serious attention to the moratoria, which includes interventionist Primates. The odd Lambeth notion of a holding area for dioceses out of communion with their provinces looks like an alternative to the GAFCON alternative. But none of this generated much excitement. Apparently it is assumed that GAFCON will go with its alternative Province in NA and to hell with the Lambeth shuffle, and equally the holding area for bishops already intervening in North America is an idea dead on arrival. I can't see AMiA and CANA melding back into the Episcopal Church after a time in a holding tank. And GAFCON's alternative NA Province is an idea on a roll, with Common Cause Partnership ready to go.

(iii) The planning group for the Lambeth Conference did a great deal of work leading up to the event. I gather they met during the Conference and had some input into matters at they developed on site, but did so in conjunction with other groups of advisers. I've heard nothing from them following the Conference in terms of a follow-up assessment.

(iv) The Lambeth Conference went over budget by several millions of dollars. Who was minding the store? Surely there might have been some effort to tailor the event to the budget in place. The usual places of rescue for such overruns include the various coffers of the Church of England, funds from the Anglican Consultative Council budget, etc, and from the major donors to Anglican Communion activities, including the Episcopal Church. NOTHING seems to have been said at Lambeth to the bishops about the possibility of their returning to their own Provinces and shaking the trees. Perhaps I missed it. And, to be frank, if the bishops came back here and shook the trees they would find very little interest in bailing the Conference out of its difficulties.

The Archbishop will have to go to church foundations, including some in America, for help. There is some feeling that the ABC is a bit ticked off at the "American" church believing it to be the source of the troubles and doubly so because it seems an arrogant body, given to being just like the United States, etc. It cannot be a healthy thing for him or the Church that he might have to come to the Episcopal Church or foundations in it for help. Whatever the complaint about the unwarranted influence of the US Church, to have to ask money from it can only make the bile taste more bitter.

(v) In the past there has been considerable frump about who is receiving communion from whom. At Lambeth there were lots of bishops who laid hands on Bishop Robinson. The Presiding Bishop was there. Were there bishops who refused to receive communion when these bishops also were receiving? Remember the bizarre antics at Dar Es Salaam? There was also the absence of a group picture of the Primates at Dar.

Well, interestingly enough in the pictures of the bishops at Lambeth the most often posted picture was a cut from the middle of the pack, in which the ABC is in the center and a few of the Primates on his left and right, but not far enough over to include the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. She would have been the next one to the left. The second row is filled with officers of the ABC's staff and ACC folk, along with the Archbishop of York. Just above you can see the chin of the Bishop of Fort Worth. This particular picture comes from George Conger's pages. Credit to him and to (I suspect) the Lambeth Photographer. Another version of this is cropped the same to the left and right, but goes up several steps. But the only other version I have seen of the front row is the one of the whole crowd. Well, in itself no big deal, but in the flotsam and jetsam department it sits there.

(Addendum) Scott Gunn was kind enough to respond with the following (also in the comments):

"I have loads of photos showing +KJS near +Cantuar. I posted a couple on the official Lambeth flickr set.

There are many photos of this event around, so anyone cropping out +KJS made their own choice.

Photo 1

Photo 2

These photos, and many more on the flickr set, are available for use, provided ACNS is credited.

By the way, there was not one Lambeth Photographer. There were four on the team, of which I was 25%.

Pax,
Scott+"

Thanks Scott. My point was I wasn't seeing any of those, but only the cropped shot. Then again, maybe I was only looking for what I wanted or didn't want. I appreciate the correction.

I am putting off dealing with important matters of Lambeth, important and I believe devastating. At the moment I'm just cleaning off unclaimed notes and mutterings. The big news of Lambeth - that the Communion is now headed for a crash - will have to hold for another day.

20 comments:

  1. Mark - posting anon with apologies because I can never manage to log on to blogger - do you seriously believe the communion is 'headed for a crash'? Coming from you I am amazed. I would be interested to talk to you about it if u could bear to talk to me.... with respect and regards Ruth (ps I do take note of and take seriously all you write. regards. ruth.gledhill@thetimes.co.uk)

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  2. My money is on Rowan Williams to survive. There are a number of winey British bihsops who didn't feel that their responsibilities at Lambeth befit their stature. These are the usual suspects: Wright, Scott-Joynt, Langrish. Additionally, it is hard to imagine a stupider time to replace the ABC than after he has laid out the only plan now in play for holding the Communion together. I don't much care for the plan, and have mixed feelings about the Communion, but if you re looking at this from the C of E's point of view, and that's where these rumors are coming from, what is the alternative?

    Let me dampen evangelical ardor for the Bishop of Liverpool a bit by saying that he and the Bishop of Washington got on well when he last visited our area. And you know what the bishop of Washington is like.

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  3. What? I think the photograph of Bishop Iker/Ft.Worth is perfect...only the mouth and I recognized him immediately.

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  4. The news for Dr. Williams wont get better. If he comes here hat in hand looking for a bailout, he will find the funds he wants are controlled by American laity. These are the same laity whose failure to act as proper peasants when relating to the lord bishops so distresses him.

    At a guess, there is exactly no chance that the National Council will vote to send him money. If it is silly enough to do so, there will be some fireworks at GC and a whole bunch of new members. Some of the foundations have elected boards too.

    Dr. Williams has plotted the course, and the ship is headed towards the iceberg. This is so sad, it did not have to turn out this way.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  5. Mary Clara8/8/08 3:11 PM

    Technical note - for Ruth and others: I also have trouble logging on to Google/ Blogger. The trick of not having to post as "anonymous" is to click on "Name/URL", which then opens up a box wherein you can identify yourself and also, if desired, give your URL!

    I am giving thanks daily for the blogosphere and the intertubes because they permit this kind of commentary, reflection and conversation.

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  6. Jim #1. your comment "There are a number of winey British bishops" gave me start and then a laugh. But winey or whiney, I guess either would work! ;-)

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  7. +James Jones of Liverpool is a perfect choice (should there need be a need for one)...when following the recent hate-crime inspired murder of Michael Causers (un mentioned during the 3rd Presidential Address that was partly addressing worldwide abuse) I found great information about Bishop Jones/Liverpool...turned my head (almost snapped it off)...

    see my next comment:

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  8. The LGBT position of the Church of Englands Bishop of Liverpool:

    Bishop quotes Jesus as he backs same-sex relationships

    By NICOLA BODEN
    February 2008

    The Bishop of Liverpool suggests Jesus might have had a physical relationship with a disciple

    A senior bishop appears to have performed a complete U-turn by suggesting the Bible might sanction same-sex relationships.

    Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones, claims in a new book that the bond between Jesus and John the Disciple, as well between David and Jonathan, are possible examples of close relationships between two men.

    The conservative evangelical's comments are all the more remarkable given his vehement opposition to the appointment of gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John to Bishop of Reading in 2003.

    He was one of a group of bishops who wrote a letter of objection at the gay man's selection for the high-profile role, leading to him ultimately turning down the post.

    In the book, A Fallible Church, Bishop Jones calls for Anglicans to "acknowledge the authoritative biblical examples of love between two people of the same gender most notably in the relationship of Jesus and his beloved [John] and David and Jonathan."

    Referring to the Theology of Friendship report, he discusses John "leaning against the bosom, breast, chest of Jesus".

    The Bishop also describes an "emotional, spiritual and even physical friendship" between David and Jonathan, who appear in the Old Testament books of Samuel.

    When Jonathan, the son of Saul, King of Israel, first meets David after he slays Goliath against the odds, the Bible describes him as being immediately struck by the young man.

    It reads: "And it came to pass, when he [David] had made an end to speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him with his own soul."

    The Bishop asks: "Was their friendship sexual? Were they gay? Was at least one of them homosexual? Were they both heterosexual? Were they bisexual?"

    Answering his own question, he then writes: "You assume that it is a person's sexual inclination that defines their personhood. Is it not possible to say that here are two men with the capacity to love fully, both men and women?"

    Gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John was controversially selected to be Bishop of Reading in 2003. The Bishop of Liverpool and seven others opposed his appointment and he stood down

    In the article, entitled Making Space for Truth and Grace, the Bishop of Liverpool also apologises to Dr John for opposing his appointment to Bishop of Reading more than four years ago.

    The gay cleric turned down the job due to the furore but later caused more controversy when he became Dean of St Albans in 2004 and "married" his partner of 30 years in a civil ceremony in 2006.

    Bishop Jones writes: "I deeply regret this episode in our common life.

    "I still believe it was unwise to try to take us to a place that evidently did not command the broad support of the Church of England but I am sorry for the way I opposed it and I am sorry too for adding to the pain and distress of Dr John and his partner."

    Fellow clerics regard his latest comments as the mark of a distinct change in his views on homosexuality.

    Dr Mike Homfray, who withdrew from the Anglican church because of perceived homophobia, said it was a "most profound shift".

    He said: "I think Bishop Jones is saying he is now more able to live with difference and diversity and that it is necessary to keep the issue open and allow continued dialogue.

    "Unless he was open to the possibility of embracing change, then he wouldn't be suggesting this as a way forward. That doesn't mean he necessarily fully embraces it himself, though. Not yet anyway, but he has moved."

    Of David and Jonathan, Dr Homfray added: "They may have had sexual contact - but that doesn't make them 'gay' in a Western sense. No-one in the Bible can have that lable because it is a term with all sorts of social and cultural meanings."

    The diocese of Liverpool said in a statement: "The Bishop's essay is asking us to find a new and more open way forward that doesn't compromise people's convictions, respects conscience and understands people's hurts and vulnerabilities in this debate.

    "He is making a plea for continued debate in which there is both truth and grace."

    http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-512607/Bishop-quotes-Jesus-backs-sex-relationships.html

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  9. In the six years I've been an Episcopalian, no one's ever been able to explain to me satisfactorally why I should give a flying spit about the Anglican Communion or Rowan Williams.

    Let it crash and let it burn. And let's see what rises from the ashes.

    Until that time, I shall continue as I have always continued. If any bishops would like to come to my table, they are more than welcome at St. Thatguy's. We welcome all who come through the door and feed them a good meal (some people, that's the only food they eat all day). Be warned, bishies, you may get stuck in an apron and ordered to wash dishes.

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  10. Mark,

    When do we, the laity, get a plan that is workable (actually any pln would be good) that begins to resolve the quarmire we are in? I think it is time that we here in TEC begin to weave some tapestry that looks like a picture that is close to God. Surely, we have enough mental acuity to be able to do that.

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  11. obadiahslope8/8/08 9:06 PM

    Mark,
    Here's a version of the photo, with a crop you might like better.
    I suspect it was chosen to include some locals rather than your Presiding bishop, but it certainly shows that a wider crop was available.
    http://www.adelaide.anglican.com.au/lambeth.htm

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  12. Mark,

    I have loads of photos showing +KJS near +Cantuar. I posted a couple on the official Lambeth flickr set.

    There are many photos of this event around, so anyone cropping out +KJS made their own choice.

    Photo 1

    Photo 2

    These photos, and many more on the flickr set, are available for use, provided ACNS is credited.

    You might also like these, showing women bishops of the Anglican Communion:

    Photo 3

    Photo 4

    By the way, there was not one Lambeth Photographer. There were four on the team, of which I was 25%.

    Pax,
    Scott+

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  13. mary sue -- what a wonderful post! That one should be framed and sent to many places.

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  14. Wow, you've changed your header!

    BTW, I had just as hard a time finding the Primate of Central America, who likewise was cropped out of photos.

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  15. Anyone giving up Rowan for dead, does it at his/her own peril! Time and again, Rowan has come back from the grave in truly remarkable ways.
    Thomas+

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  16. Recent examples in modern history of successful (for a season) "thrusting, youngish, photogenic evangelical" might be Hitler, Bush, Blair. I think we need a different set of criteria for the ABC.

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  17. Fr. Mark--I hope we will let the AC go but continue our companion relationships, friendships and support with and for other bishops in the AC. I don't have any difficulty standing behind our clergy but I do have a problem with supporting the AC. I wholeheartedly support our beloved Episcopal Church and our clergy.

    Aside to anonymous--I never could manage to log on to blogger either so I went to the Blogger website and got a blogger id. Now all is well. When you log on to a blogger site your name will already be there and you just have to post your comment after doing the word verification blank.

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  18. Fr. Mark--And just this. What I want is to support whatever was good that came out of Lambeth for our clergy. I just don't have the heart for supporting anything that was negative or that might detract from the enormous amount of good that they and we as a church achieve.

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  19. George Conger10/8/08 6:18 PM

    Yes, this is one of my photos as published by the Church of England Newspaper, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa website, and other outlets. No, it has not been altered to exclude Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Other shots from that day, from different perspectives and angles include the PB.

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  20. On ii: A former NH rector of mine points out that while +Gene is a diocesan bishop, the other excluded bishops (Minns, Anderson, et all) were not. That is the key difference, and why the latter aren't worth talking about in the same way.

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