10/03/2010

Bishop David Anderson lives in la-la land.

He says, "The Christian Church needs a spiritually strong and muscular Anglicanism to re-evangelize the West." David Anderson, interloper bishop from Kenya, president of the American Anglican Council, opined this bit of drivel in a larger essay in which he also put together his idea of what the "Global South bishops" should do if the Episcopal Church's primate comes to the next meeting of the Primates. The suggestion is to throw her out of the meeting or pick up and move away from her to the next room.

Somehow this muscular might is meant to be just the ticket for re-evangelizing the West.  Well if this sort of thing is Anglican (which it isn't) and this is how one re-evangelizes the West (which it isn't) then I want nothing of either.

There are many other problems with Anderson's pithy sound bite. It is drivel. It is wrong about what the Christian Church needs. It is wrong about what Anglicanism is about.

The core of this boneheaded statement is this business of "muscular," as in "muscular Christianity." This image last appeared when it was thought that Christianity had become a religion for wimps and that Christianity was not able to take on the evils of all those Socialists, Communists, secularist and humanists. It was somehow thought that blond headed, athletic, YMCA trim, white young men might be the answer to a world spinning out and away from Christian belief. 

Muscular Christianity is yet one more idol in the long list of idols that try to link physical or political power with the power of the Word of God, of Jesus and the power of the Cross. Flexing our muscles is perhaps a sign of manly power, maybe even womanly power, but it is in no way a sign of the presence of God.

Anderson's silly statement would be just that except that some people actually believe that what Christianity needs is for Anglicanism to flex a little muscle and for Global South Anglicans to re-evangelize the West.  On that level Anderson's statement is very dangerous propaganda.  

On another level Anderson's statement is not silly at all. It is part of that wider shell game in which some Americans, interested in anything that punches out any vestiges of the Christian left in the major denominations, invent a straw man, the muscular American Christian who is really a mild mannered bishop from Kenya. Like Superman, Mister Muscular Christian will save Metropolis from the evil of all those intellectual snobs, do-gooders and weak lefty types in the Church.  The trouble is that Anderson buys this, and some will be enticed and attracted by a bit of flex and some signs of washboard abs.

My sense is that Jesus would have none of this.  And neither should we. 

25 comments:

  1. Honest to God, Henry Orombi and Nicholas Okoh! If some Global South Primates, and their prancing ¨paid off¨ buddies, need to ban anyone from ANY conversation it is because they have listened far toooo long to thuglike Americans with $$$ and superstitous/witch-like despots at the vertically corrupt, devious and deadly nations of Uganda and Nigeria...such powerfully purchased witness is disgusting and reveals tainted hearts, Souls and a gross lack of Christian Hospitality.

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  2. Dearest Mark --yes, yes and yes.... and I can't help but hear the frustration in your voice... Perhaps a gift from St. Teresa?

    Let nothing disturb you,
    nothing afright you.
    Whom God possesses
    in nothing is wanting.
    Alone God suffices.
    All things are passing.
    God never ceases.
    Patient endurance attains all things.

    God bless you in all the work you do for the church and the realm of God in our midst.

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  3. This is simply another expression of the theology of glory which Luther condemned. The theology of the Cross and muscular Christianity don't mix.

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  4. Here, here. I hope the ABC doesn't let himself be bullied by this nonsense.

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  5. Ooops, I mean hear, hear...

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  6. Perhaps Bishop Anderson has something like this in mind:

    http://www.jesus-pictures.net/jesus-pictures/muscular-jesus-breaking-cross.jpg

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  7. I strongly advise the non-Global South Primates to grab the Global South Primates and give them noogies, pink bellies and Indian burns until they cry "uncle."

    This will keep the conversation at a level comfortable enough for the Most Holy Archbishop of All of North America and his lil' friend Davey, the scourge of the playground.

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  8. David Anderson in Joan Rivers mode, dissing the guest list of a party to which he and his are not invited.

    [OK - so I owe Joan Rivers an apology]

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  9. Misogyny and it’s progeny, homophobia personified. For, you see, “muscular” Christianity is the epitome of masculinity and banishes all things feminine, both actual female and perceived feminine gay men.

    No more women priests and bishops, no more gay priests and bishops, but a Christianity populated by very male clergy only. That’s what they think America and the world hunger for -- a return to those halcyon days of the past when all was good and right and real men were in charge of everything.

    This same diatribe can be heard with regularity in independent evangelical churches which emphasize a woman’s role as that of obeying her husband silently and without question, as the Bible “says”.

    Sad and disturbing but not surprising.

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  10. I know it's not wise to generalize from a single experience, but...
    I had a Nigerian priest for an assistant for a few years. He went on to serve two congregations in our diocese. I watched him try to make what he believed was the Nigerian style church work here in northern Michigan. I supported and encouraged him, but it just didn't work here. I don't doubt that it works wonders back home, but it didn't work here.
    He's still in the US, serving churches in one of the alphabet soup churches of the used to be Episcopal fringe.
    I respect his faith and commitment, but if he's an example of muscular Christianity,...well, lets just say I don't expect much to come of it.

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  11. I wrote about the right-wing extremists and their violent language earlier this year:
    http://www.sevenwholedays.org/2010/02/06/church-militant/

    It's sad.

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  12. And after his advice to "orthodox" primates to demonstrate muscle by removing our PB with force of numbers or moving to another room and locking Bishop Katharine and, if need be, the ABC out, David Anderson signs off with:

    Blessings and Peace in Christ Jesus,

    The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.

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  13. The so-called bishop fully demonstrates his childishness and pettiness by his refusal to refer to the Presiding Bishop by her academic title. Or perhaps he feels that women should not be allowed to pursue higher education at all. How is one to expect any type of reasonable dialogue with a person?

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  14. Perchance, would Bp. David Anderson have in mind Bp. E. Long as a fine example of muscular Christianity?

    Jim

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  15. Bishop David Anderson lives in la-la land.

    I see I have competition in the headline writing department. I am going to have to increase my game in order to compete.

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  16. Phillip Cato4/10/10 9:52 AM

    I still recall Bill Wolf saying in theology class at ETS, "Pelagius arrived in Rome, fresh from a British YMCA, with muscular Christianity." That was the first and only time I ever heard this silly expression.

    Phillip Cato

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  17. Thanks for your response. We got this from AAC through the mail and threw it out.

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  18. Taken from Thinking Anglicans:
    Why should David Anderson be so vocal? Here are some possible reasons: 1. The strategy of Dromantine and Dar-es-Salaam was to micro-manage the primates meetings from locales down the street or 2nd floor shuttle diplomacy. Minns (AAC Virginia) and Anderson were both present at these meetings and active. 2. Anderson, in his fund-raising letters has promised his supporters that the AAC will attend as many as possible of these meetings to offer support (i.e lobby) 3. David Anderson, according to the last available tax return of the AAC, 2008, earned $101,356 for a 30 hour/week job. See http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2008/752/668/2008-752668339-058b60a3-Z.pdf

    Since Dar-es-Salaam and Dromantine, efforts have been made to limit the primates' meeting to primates and to inhibit if not prevent lobbying. It would appear that the "advice" to the primates to set up an alternative locale offers two positives: It appeals to the GS core which does not like Jefferts Schori and, from an AAC perspective, sets up a renewed platform for its lobbying. The AAC's fundraising trend is down. Its revenues in 2004 were 1,701,170 USD to 965,453 USD in 2008. A lobby is all about access. Without it an organization loses credibility.
    Posted by: TBL on Monday, 4 October 2010 at 12:55pm BST

    EmilyH

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  19. Dar-es-Salaam was a classic Pyrrhic victory, Emily. The tactics of Akinola and his handlers and the ends to which they were put, were a wake-up call to many in the Communion who until then had assumed that TEC's problems were a purely North American issue.

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  20. On the issue of a Dar-es-Salaam being a "wake-up" call to the rest of the communion. If, Lapinbizare, you mean letting the rest of the communion know who was orchestrating the show and what could be expected from them should they gain control over the creation of policies, procedures and polity (the ACC)of the communion, I certainly agree. My take on this is that, it made clear even to the least politically caring or savvy primate, that we, the GS, will not limit our use of these tactics to opposition against TEC, but cross us, and we will use them against you. We are well-organized and well-funded and ready for combat. EmilyH

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  21. Precisely what I meant, Emily.

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  22. This "re-evangelizing" theme reminds me of an article I read some time ago, http://dstp.cba.pl/?p=2205 You can find there an interesting perspective on the tendencies in Christianity that seek power and dynamism in "conquering for Jesus" and on the ambivalent relation of missing something about the Christian world being destroyed by the "secular" attitude and appreciating the value of what it replaces it with. Sometimes there just seems to be more Gospel in it than in the words of many who profess to be Christians...

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  23. Muscular Christianity has its understanding in the British public (that is, private) school system in which tomorrows 'leaders' would play rugby, get a good thrashing, have their heads put down toilets etc. and attend chapel under Anglican services, including recognising the social space of the all important chapel choir. Muscular Christianity was the morality behind the cold showers taken together and learning how to handle a rifle.

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  24. Stephen Edwards (Revd)9/10/10 10:09 AM

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
    (oh and thank you again!)

    I read about David Anderson's tantrum in Church Times (here in England) and couldn't believe it. After laughing and then crying and laughing again, I was so relieved to read your wonderful response. I hope Bp David reads it too.

    Thank you!

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  25. It sounds as if David Anderson sure enjoys speaking from his bully pulpit.

    --sheila--

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