This is my 1000th entry in 44 months. I began Preludium in February 2005. Most of the entries have concerned the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. As with several other “progressive” bloggers, I began writing because I was concerned that the Episcopal Church was not paying sufficient attention to the details of the emerging challenge presented by the realignment effort to replace the Episcopal Church with some other ecclesial construct that would be viewed by conservatives as the “true voice of Anglicanism” in North America.
Prior to February 2005 I wrote often on Louie Crew’s pages, for the Witness Magazine and contribute some sermons to Christian Century and other papers. I was also on the Writing Group that issued the response to the Windsor Report. I also reported on the 2003 General Convention for BeliefNet and wrote for Issues, a General Convention daily.
As the work of writing on Preludium picked up, I realized this would become an important part of my ministry. It has mostly been very satisfying, although, as did Fr. Jake I found it necessary to back off writing several times. The toxicity of the net is sometimes hard to take and not particularly helpful to ones soul.
So, what have I learned about life in Anglican-Land?
1. We don’t know how to fight. In 1997 Bishop Spong called for a debate on twelve points and almost no one took him seriously. Instead the “Twelve Theses” became a punching bag for the right and a quiet embarrassment for the left. He has been demonized and any creative theological work in response has been pushed to the side. Eleven years later and we still are hearing about those 12 theses! (in a comment Matt Kennedy points out that there was "a response to "Spong's incoherent agnostic ramblings. "Can a Bishop Be Wrong", edited by Peter Moore, included essays by Drs. William Witt, Edith Humphry, David Scott, Ephraim Radner...ten scholars in all. If you've never read it, you might want to check it out." HERE. The book doesn't seem to be specifically in relation to the 12 Theses but about Spong's writings.)
2. Not enough attention was paid to the Kuala Lumpur statement on Human Sexuality and on the wider distress with innovative theology. Had more attention been paid to serious dialogue then, we might be in a different place now.
3. Lambeth 1998 1.10 was a disaster, being bad politics unaccompanied by theological underpinnings.
4. Authority delegated to select Lambeth resolutions as “the mind of the communion” is without warrant. The politicalization of the Lambeth Conference in 1998 was unfettered and the blame lies with Archbishop Carey. As a result it was the last Lambeth Conference to make plenary resolutions. The supposedly advisory and consultative nature of the conference was compromised beyond repair.
5. An enhanced role for the Primates was a bad idea. The increased de facto authority of the Primates Meeting has not been a source of unity, but of division.
6. The Windsor Report is defunct. The Windsor Report, commissioned specifically not to address issues of human sexuality or more especially homosexuality and the church, but rather to give advice about how to maintain the “highest degree of communion,” quickly became an instrument of idolatry in which such notions as “Windsor compliance,” “Windsor bishops,” and more recently “Communion Partners” arose as ways to give to the Windsor Report authority it did not initially have. As a result, what good content there was in the Report was buried under an increasing pile of expectations and demands from meetings of the Primates that followed.
7. The Archbishop of Canterbury has consistently misrepresented the nature of the Anglican Communion, believing somehow that he had to “save” the Communion as if it were a church, from splitting. There is no church to save. The wringing of hands by certain Primates was power play and public rhetoric. He bought it.
8. The Anglican Covenant is a bad idea. Period. That is very different from developing a way of marking who we are as Anglicans, or what we believe is essential to ecumenical efforts to reunion. Something like that might work. But constructing a covenant in the current context, complete with a codified system for addressing conflict is an invitation to a new patriarchy, and we don’t need it.
9. Individual diocese “buy-on” to the Covenant is an invitation to the corruption of Provincial polity. Its end will be disaster.
10. The Anglican Communion will continue, made up of autonomous churches, continuing with the Anglican Consultative Council and various meetings of representatives as instruments of communion. Many of its current member churches will belong, more if the Covenant is dropped. The Archbishop of Canterbury will still be a focus of unity.
11. There will be an international church formed from churches informed by Anglican piety, theology and with orders historically related the English episcopate. Some of the current member churches of the Anglican Communion will belong to that Church. It will not be the Anglican Communion. That Church will have no interest in the Covenant and will not find the CofE or the Archbishop of Canterbury very important. It might be “The Anglican Church,” but that is a different matter. It will not be Anglican.
12. There will continue to be multi-church instruments for common action and some member churches of the Anglican Communion, along with autonomous Churches formerly part of the Anglican Communion, and perhaps even the Anglican Church will work cooperatively for the common good. This will ultimately be an outgrowth of new ecumenical efforts. This will be called "networking," an idea of some value, although most of its users will not be post-modern folk used to social networking. It will not be the Anglican Communion or a Church. It will be good people doing common work.
13. The Episcopal Church, and I would expect the Anglican Church of Canada and others, will continue to slowly work their through the changes in their understandings of the church’s role in blessing the vocations of their members, not assuming that all churches will follow suit, but believing that they are called to this task.
14. Writing is harder than it looks. I can't spell worth a damn and my sentences run on too long sometimes. And I have a long suffering family.
15. I envy other bloggers who do nifty things with Photoshop, post audio files, and generally present better than I do. Well, there it is. One thousand entries, and perhaps a bit of learning.
See you for the 1001th.
Thank you for reading, responding and engaging. Some trip!