Tick, tock.... Midnight coming.
Peter Carrell over at Anglicans Down Under, has written a piece drawing on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists clock. It is titled, Five Minutes to Midnight. The image from the Bulletin is that it is damn close to fini. The implication is that the same is true for the Anglican Communion. The Clock is ticking, and we need to step back - in this case from the horrors of being an association.
Here is the body of Carrell's text:
One way to think about the Anglican Covenant is that it constitutes a measure of our willingness to be autonomous Anglican churches in communion together in the face of the possibility of formal schism or schisms occurring across the Anglican world. With one measure of the closeness of the world to nuclear conflagration in the background, I suggest that if midnight is the point when we are in schism, then we could assess the arguments for and against the Covenant in terms of minutes before midnight.
In my reading of criticism of the Covenant, most of the criticism stems from an unwillingness to let go of even one iota of autonomy. So when criticism waxes rather than wanes, the likelihood is that Anglican churches, in the end, will go their own way and schism will take place. Right now my assessment is that we are five minutes from midnight!
There is an alternative to schism (as I have been pushing in recent posts): we agree on one thing together, that we are not in fact a Communion and so we will call ourselves something else ... the World Anglican Association, perhaps.
Peter is on the mark in one respect. We Anglicans belong to a fellowship of churches, not a Church. He is wrong, I believe, to suggest that we are not a Communion but rather an Anglican Association.
The problem is, of course, is what we mean by a "Communion." At its core it must such a title must have something to do with communing, with sharing sacraments, understandings of the faith, etc. It is the "etc" that gets us in trouble. Does Communion mean that we must agree on the race of who is ordained, or at least on the separation of those ordained by race? Does Communion mean we must share understanding of whether or not women can be ordained? Does it mean we must share in liturgies that do not deviate from a model, in some cases the 1662 BCP? Does it mean we must all share in the same understanding of divorce and the possibilities of remarriage after? Does it mean that we must all agree not to ordain gay and lesbian clergy who are not celibate, and most particularly bishops?
Well, no. In reality that has not been the Communion from its outset. The notion of unanimity of voice is without merit as a reality in the Anglican Communion. The pissing contest that goes on in TEC and elsewhere as to who is suffering the most is a sad example of the reality that people on one side or the other of this or that snit-fit feel the pain. But pain is not a sign that Communion does not exist, rather it is a sign that the Communion is struggling with real and substantive issues.
We are the Anglican Communion, a fellowship of national and regional churches. No one said it would be easy, or without breakdowns here and there, or without differences in actual practice. But on the other hand, no one told us how wonderful it could be to relate to others across all sorts of divisions and still remain firm friends, sharing bread and wine and the conviction that Jesus Christ is Risen.
We are not just an Association, although we at least that. We Anglicans are more together than that. We are a Communion.