1/16/2009

The Moderator who would be Archbishop is busy, and the muck up is at hand.

Here is the way it works:

You claim to be the best new thing on the block.
You claim that is true because powerful people take you seriously.
You claim it is true because the media says so.
You claim it is true because powerful people in their club talk about you.
You claim it is true because your status is being considered by people with status.
And one day you announce you are the best new thing.
And everyone says, "yes, it must be true."
Even though it was just your claim.

The Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership aka the Archbishop in waiting of the Anglican Church in North America was to have delivered a speech at the Mere Anglicans Conference in South Carolina. This worthy is the chief bishop of a collection of ecclesial entities, none of which have standing in the Anglican Communion. They claim to be the new improved Anglican thing in North America, here to replace the worn out and used up Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada. He believes the ACNA is the best thing on the block.

He didn't make the speech down there in South Carolina. The Living Church reports that he is now busy working with friendly primates who are putting together a case statement for this new entity and its case for being an alternative province. Supposedly the Archbishop of Canterbury requested such a paper.

The Moderator says the paper is to come to the Primates when they meet in Alexandria, Egypt, an from there will get to the Anglican Consultative Council.

See, powerful people are taking them seriously. That's why he can't stay and make the speech. There are important matters afoot and February 1 (the beginning of the Primates meeting) is close at hand. See how seriously he is taking their being serious. They must indeed be serious.

It appears the press says people of importance take the new best thing seriously.

But the press didn't exactly say that the matter would come up at the Primate's meeting. They reported that Duncan said it would. The Living Church reported,

"Archbishop Williams had asked that a paper be prepared setting out the situation and the hopes for a new structure. The Archbishop invited the primates to forward the case to the Anglican Consultative Council along with their comments.
Bishop Duncan said the GAFCON primates will present the paper and make the case for an alternate province during the primates’ meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, next month."

It is unclear if the paper will be presented and the case made at the Primates meeting. But the press lets it dangle. It's not their fault that it can be read to mean that the Primates WILL have a go at the paper when they meet. But the inference is clear: Moderator Duncan is a busy man, too busy to give a speech. He is working on the presentation with the GAFCON Bishops for the Primates Meeting. Otherwise, why would the press be on this now?

OK. So now we know that important people are taking ACNA seriously, and so is the press, and so possibly will the Primates club.

Reading the tea leaves gets to be difficult at this point. Some wonder why it is of any importance that the more or less official listing on the Anglican Communion website lists or doesn't list Iker, Duncan, Ackerman or Schofield as bishops in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin. In trying to read the tea leaves it takes on some importance, particularly this close to the Primates meeting. Perhaps it is a signal that on whatever basis shallow or deep the Anglican Communion office understands that these men are not the bishops of those dioceses.

But the trick is not to allow mere realities to get in the way.

It will be interesting to know just how the Primates might react to the possibility of a new Anglican Province all of whose bishops are either (i) deposed in a Province of the Anglican Communion, (ii) never part of the Anglican Communion at all, or (iii) ordained by Provinces in ways clearly contrary to any attempt to "mend the fabric" of the Communion.
But never mind: keep the claim coming. When the club meets, make sure it is brought up seriously by serious members of the club. Make the conversation about the matter of status -- as if the Province already existed and matter was only about it's status. Do not under any circumstances allow anyone to question just why this new improved Anglican Church in North America is a province at all. What it is is a church in formation. It is not clear its use of "Anglican" denotes anything at all about its being part of the Anglican Communion. But arguing about the "status" of ACNA gives it status.

At the moment ACNA is not yet a reality and its bishops are a mixture of the deposed, out of communion and irregularly appointed bishops. At the moment ACNA has no status as an Anglican anything. It has clear supporters among the GAFCON Primates, yes, but even they did not unilaterally declare ACNA a province of anything at all, much less the Anglican Communion.

But never mind, says the Moderator. Watch me:

We are the best new thing on the block.
We claim that is true because powerful people take us seriously.
We claim it is true because the media says so.
We claim it is true because powerful people in their club talk about us.
We claim it is true because our status is being considered by people with status.
We announce we are the best new thing.
And we bet
everyone says, "yes, it must be true."
Even though it was just our claim.

The thing is, however, that it has become serious long before it has become real. If ACNA wants to compete for souls or find new ones, if it wants to be the true church or the beloved church of some Provinces overseas, fine. If it wants to save members of TEC from leadership and church life that is dangerous to souls, fine. Let it be real and we will take it seriously.

But just because you say you are the best new thing doesn't make it so. And there is considerable clarity by some of us that the matter of ACNA's status is a simple one: ACNA is a church in formation in North America that is held together by the great negative belief that TEC and ACiC are wrongly led, poor in faith and discipline and damned in fact. Its status is that of agent of a hostile takeover.

21 comments:

  1. Mark, I believe this is the best post you've ever written. (It also kills the post I had planed for tomorrow!).

    The simple fact is, Duncan cannot secure enough Primates to put this in motion. The primates are too wise for it and it reeks on several points. But I think the deciding factor will be, or already is, "If these jokers do this in North American, why would I think they will leave MY province alone."

    I believe the primates recognize world dominance when they see it.

    Again, an excellent post. My hat's off to you.

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  2. That last paragraph says it all, Mark. Thank you for doing all this analysis for us, because I just don't have the patience.

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  3. Hi Mark--Great post. These folks have told so many half truths. This for instance:

    "Archbishop Williams had asked that a paper be prepared setting out the situation and the hopes for a new structure. The Archbishop invited the primates to forward the case to the Anglican Consultative Council along with their comments."

    I see this as nothing more than a statement from ++Rowan Williams to follow the procedures in place. By adding "the primates" to the second sentence Duncan is trying to add some credibility to this that it doesn't have.

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  4. "Some wonder why it is of any importance that the more or less official listing on the Anglican Communion website lists or doesn't list Iker, Duncan, Ackerman or Schofield as bishops in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin."

    The most plausible reason the website doesn't list Ackerman as Bishop of Quincy is that he resigned.

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  5. Mark, thanks for the post which sheds much light into dark corners. One wonders why The Living Church continues with such dubious reports getting information on a controversial matter from only one side.

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  6. You folks should have to live in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of TEC and have to put up with the goings on of Duncan!

    He calls the TEC Diocese the "new diocese" on their website; he lists parishes that have declared loyalty to TEC on his website so it looks like "they" have 70 parishes in their diocese rather than the 40-45 they actually have (telling the truth is not a characteristic of his outfit); and then he refuses to turn over the assets of the Diocese even though he signed an agreement over two years ago agreeing to do this (why do we have to honor agreements we have signed -- we've changed our minds!).

    Thanks for a good job Mark. We'll keep being faithful and moving on despite what our former Bishop says or does!

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  7. Nom de Plume17/1/09 12:07 PM

    In the IT industry there is a term called "vaporware". This is software (or hardware, but I've usually seen it related to software) that has been announced, usually with great fanfare, but not actually delivered. One never knows whether a given example of vaporware is a product just about ready to go, still being coded, someone's musing about designing, or something the CEO dreamed about after too many anchovies on the pizza. It is always put forward as the latest and greatest killer app that will change your life, cure cancer, save your soul, and make the world a better place for all. Needless to say, vaporware - when it actually does come to fruition - rarely lives up to its overhyped billing.

    See here for Wikipedia's entry.

    All of which to say, is that ACNA is just ecclesiastical vaporware.

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  8. Excellent post. Just excellent.

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  9. Mark,

    After spending some of my recent sabbatical studying the history of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, I have come to the opinion - maybe even conviction - that refering to the member Churches of the Communion as Provinces is misleading. I won't repeat my reasons for this conviction here, but only refer those who are interested to the post on my blog - http://frdanweir.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-province.html

    Daniel

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  10. Why do you speak of Mr Duncan as a bishop? I thought he'd been deposed.

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  11. "Bishop Duncan said the GAFCON primates will present the paper and make the case for an alternate province during the Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, next month."

    The thought occurs to me: could it be that Duncan's presentation DURING the primates' meeting will not actually be AT the Primates' Meeting? It wouldn't be the first time GAFCON has provided alternate programming...

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  12. I read this piece last night and was blown away. Had to come back today and try again:)

    This really is, as James said, one of your best. It cuts to the chase in a big way.

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  13. He calls the TEC Diocese the "new diocese" on their website; he lists parishes that have declared loyalty to TEC on his website so it looks like "they" have 70 parishes in their diocese...

    That seems to be par for the course. The Diocese of Ft. Worth (Southern Cone) also lists parishes that refused to make the move to Argentina.

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  14. You reveal just how much you all are tied up in knots about the fact that there is a new Anglican province in the US, by your bitter tone.

    Then again, pithy is about the best you can manage, always has been, always will be. It's always been plain that you are incapable of even an ounce of Christian ethics and values. It's the reason TEC is a foregone conclusion.

    Jenny

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  15. Mark, you've noted that Bp. Duncan was scheduled to give a lecture, then that he reported he couldn't make it because of a consultation with some primates. You do have quite a flair for drama in building up momentum here with claim after claim ... remember though, these are, all of them, claims you are imputing to Bp. Duncan. The technique is effective in ruffling feathers, as I see the feathers here are ruffled. Somehow though I doubt that the feathers would be so ruffled if you stuck with quotations within context and analysis. You are very capable of doing that and on occasion do it excellently here.

    From time to time your Presiding Bishop brings up the importance of church unity. Indeed, here are some people who differ with you, and on some issues, differ with you vehemently. Whether or not she believes this herself, it is an important issue in the church. Surely you yourself believe to be acting in the service of church unity by exposing the unseemly intentions of Bp. Duncan and the ACNA.

    Might I suggest that the people in the ACNA are also very serious about "mending the fabric" of the communion, but that they simply have ideas about doing so which are different from your own? And may I point out that when this group seeks to remain Anglican but has trouble remaining in TEC, and yes, may indeed believe that "God has been replacing TEC" ... is it really worthy of your time or that of the church to which you belong, to raise such a fuss over it?

    Surely a church which is as broad and open as your own must understand that the church as the whole and the PB, when all is said and done, have a predominant theology, and how overarching the intentions may be, some theologies do not "fit" well within the dominant one, and some people will indeed feel themselves marginalized to the point of wishing to leave.

    You may reply that this group is intentionally marginalizing certain groups itself. There you would be correct. What's laudable though is they seem to be making clear what their dynamic as a religious body is. TEC leadership, on the other hand, continuously uses the language of marginalization to push certain types of people further into the fringes, without voice regarding the goings on of the church as a whole, and to some extent even, their own congregations and worship - when it speaks of a "small but vocal minority" in the words of your PB, or the "orthodites," in the words of the president of the Episcopal Womens' Caucus.

    There are some places where you just can't "have both." It's impossible for TEC both to roundly affirm the resurrection, AND to to allow its adherents who wish to teach that it is unimportant, to rise to, and maintain, positions of teaching ministry. There's the new teaching - that those who want the resurrection affirmed, should be happy, because the same words are used and affirmed, but in which something else is being affirmed - à la "Jesus being raised into the meaning of God" - but in a like manner to what you are saying, your church leaders saying that this is pleasing to God as a teaching on the resurrection, doesn't make it so. Indeed, there will be people who can't accept the New Thing - actually, "New Thing" here was a phrase I heard used first by TEC clergy strongly in support of it. So claims by TEC leadership, criticizing something as claiming to be a "new thing" ... do sound to me a little ... odd.

    I do share your concern that this ACNA body be "real" and hope indeed that it lives up to being "serious" in its intentions. I share the same hope for TEC. I live in Europe so I fortunately don't have to choose. Anglicans I know here seem to be of the mind that ACNA won't further rend the fabric, and may be a part of a process taking many decades in furthering the healing of the fabric.

    Might I suggest that we also think in terms of church unity within the coming decades, and not only in the span of the next few months? To this end, there is a great deal that TEC could do to improve the chances of future church unity. From TEC there seem to be many solemn pronouncements about church unity, but it seems at times that the notion of church unity here is taken about as seriously as the leadership takes the resurrection ... you indeed are talking about something ... but we have little idea of what's being signified, and think we may be talking at cross-purposes, when trying to create a coherent picture of what this church unity would be, when we try to consider TEC's actions and pronouncements.

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  16. my apologies for the multiple grammatical mistakes in my above posting ... it's a bit challenging, composing a longish text in the tiny blogger comments box. Next time I'll review my posting before I hit the publish button.

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  17. It's a good thing Jenny came along to give us such a sterling example of how a genuine Christian behaves!

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  18. Charge: "You're practicing homosexuals!"

    TEC (democratic-majority) response: "Some of us are partnered LGBTs. We believe we have God's blessing to do so."

    Charge: "Well, that's because you have the wrong theology. You're not orthodox!"

    TEC (d-m) response: "Our theology comes straight from Scripture, Tradition and Reason. Our faith profession is in the Creeds."

    Charge: "Yes, but you don't really mean it, when you say the Creed!"

    TEC (d-m) response: "Huh? What makes you think that?"

    Charge: "Well, you CAN'T mean it: after all, you're practicing homosexuals!"

    ...and around, and around, and around it goes, J.M.C. :-/

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  19. It's the reason TEC is a foregone conclusion.

    Help! What does this mean?

    In her (Jenny is a female name, right?) haste to be pithy, I am afraid that her bitter tone came across as just plain stupid. The Episcopal Church cannot be a foregone conclusion, as it already exists. Whether the Anglican Church in North America is a foregone conclusion is still anybody's guess, as it does not yet exist.

    It seems its founders have the buro behind the cart. They are hoping it is declared a province by the primates, when it is still, as Wlh1933 points out, but vaporware, something advertised, however, yet to come.

    I see the majority of primates as centrists, with great respect for catholic and Anglican tradition; Japan, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Brazil, South Africa, Central America, Hong Kong and Macau, New Zealand, Bangladesh, India North & South, Melanesia, Mexico, Myanmar & Indian Ocean. I cannot imagine any of them voting to usurp the canonical geographic jurisdiction of the provinces of TEC or the ACoC in favor of an upstart ACNA. Add the so-called liberals; Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, USA, Australia and England, and actually GAFCON has very little primatial representation.

    I do not see the mistakes of the last ACC meeting repeated either. The United Statesonian and Canadian delegates are back, so there will be no more votes while they are out of the room!

    ::pithy mode on::
    Dear Jenny, before you try any more drive by smack downs, perhaps you should bone up on your English grammar first.
    ::pithy mode off::

    JCM, that was long, but it did not make a lot of sense. There are two Anglican provinces represented in "Europe"; the Church of England and TEC. Which are you?

    What I see folks like Father Mark doing here with his blog, is keeping things above the table. There has been a lot of under the table dealings in North America that you in Europe are perhaps in the dark about. The intention of the ACNA bunch is not to mend any fabric of the AC. With the assistance of the Global South primates they intend to rip a section out, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, and sew on a big patch, themselves. And rather than creating themselves from whole cloth, they have had this sneaky, clandestine plan, which was revealed a few years back, to steal the assets of TEC and the ACoC as they went about creating their new province.

    BTW, we use the term Orthodites to refer to the schematics (+ or - 100,000) so that we are not confusing folks that we may be speaking about the Orthodox (250+million).

    There is a little triangle of bars in the lower right corner of the comment box which you can use to grab and drag the box as big as you want it.

    ::The opinions expressed are definitely those of the author and not necessarily those of the blog host::

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  20. "But the trick is not to allow mere realities to get in the way. "

    Yes - realities eg Lambeth 1.10, the Windsor Report, BO33....... TEC certainly does not let realities get in the way of doing whatever it wants, regardless of what the Communion thinks, says or requests..... but still needs to stay in the AC as obscurity is the reality outside (given how few Americans bother with TEC on a Sunday)

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  21. David,

    Dio of Europe, CofE. The Episcopal presence here is pretty small actually.

    One of our previous Suffragen Bishops was Bishop Scriven. He's now a bishop in the Church of England. PB Schori just "accepted his renunciation of orders," saying that he "is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts of spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations."

    http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/Scriven.Henry.Notice_of_Renunciation.pdf

    Look, maybe it is time for us to walk apart. Let's pray that we act in a way that we are able to do so in peace leave open the opportunity for coming together again.

    JCF, interesting "dialogue" there. Please acquaint yourself with the statements your Presiding Bishop has made regarding the resurrection and the divinity of Christ - resurrection e.g. right after she was consecrated in the ENS report, divinity of Christ in the Spring 2007 Parabola interview. No, we don't believe the same thing. Fortunately, in the U.S., anyone is allowed to be called "Christian" who demands being called so. Freedom of Religion is very important.

    The issue of human sexuality is nothing compared to Christ's teachings about Himself. Don't let the church's dispute about sexuality get sidetracked regarding who Christ is; if necessary, find a church outside of the Anglican Communion altogether. In the Anglican Communion right now LGBT people are like the football during game season. Sad but true. For your own faith I'd even say: don't bother with what the PB says about Christ, even this can cause some to doubt in a lazy way where they don't go checking the evidence in Scripture and elsewhere, and believe what Spong says without even looking up the passages he cites ... which, if one does, even with a minimal education, one sees what kind of scholar Spong is. Just find a church that will accept you and help you with your faith. In Christ.

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