11/07/2011

Be Watchful: About the Angican Covenant - It ain't over til its over.

The Resolution put forth by Executive Council concerning the Anglican Covenant will go into the "Blue Book," happily called that because once upon a time the book was published with, well, a blue cover. Now the colors are of all sorts, but the name remains.  It will carry some considerable weight in the deliberations of the Legislative Committee that will deal with Anglican Covenant resolutions, but there will be many other offerings to the Episcopal-land sausage maker, and all those resolutions will all be ground into a resolution presented to the floor, which in turn will be tinkered with and then either passed or not. There is lots of room for whatever is next in the long trail by which this document became an item requiring a response from General Convention. 

The proposed resolution does not, therefore, constitute the end of the game. No indeed. When it got published it was received with a certain "ho-hum" response, not because it was without value, but because it had become boring.

Be prepared, if you were bored before, you will be stunned in the months to come. 

Still, there is in this unfolding drama is a classic case of the clash of two notions held by Himself (if we get the words right), "Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No," anything more than this comes from the evil one." (NRSV Mat 5:37) and "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." (NRSV Mat 10:16b).  Do we answer the question about the Covenant without guile, or with?

If we are asked the question, "Yes or No, Do you adopt the Anglican Covenant," a "Yes" or "No" seems to be in order. On the other hand, if we know the answer has political consequences (in the higher realms of Anglican political / ecclesial activity) are we somehow obligated to a more "nuanced" response, a qualified "Yes" or a politely understated "No"?  

Beyond that, if we believe the question is itself wrongheaded or wrong hearted do we want to ignore the apparent need for reasonably quick response at all?  Perhaps the answer is to not answer at all now, awaiting further instructions from the heart, head or even the Holy Spirit, prior to response.  We have been asked to respond. What if we simply don't, at least not now? 

All of this and more will be rattling around in pre-General Convention mutterings the next several months.  It is too early for any party or interest group to claim victory or but you can be sure that new and sometimes differently-driven deputies and bishops are beginning to work for some scheme by which General Convention will either put off for another day the decision, or work a compromise that will provide either or both political and ecclesial grace in a tight spot.

I have been privileged to be part of the "official" discussions about how we ought to respond to the numerous versions of the Covenant, beginning with the appendix to the Windsor Report through the final Anglican Covenant being proposed for adoption. It's been a wonderful time working with extraordinary people.  But I have to say I have little interest in prolonging the struggle to find a way to adopt the Covenant in its present form.  So I'm in the "yes" or "no" camp, voting "no" in Convention unless otherwise persuaded by the "yes" crowd between now and then.  

It is interesting to note that the General Convention Schedule has no special hearing time set apart for the consideration of the Anglican Covenant. Apparently resolutions concerning the AC will be considered in the normal legislative committee process. It may be a big deal, but it is a "regular" deal.

Friends over at "No Anglican Covenant" are working away at a score card on who has or has not signed on. Those who are against or for the Covenant have not lobbied the last bishop or deputy, and have not found a smoking gun from some source within or without The Episcopal Church that makes it clearly and irrevocably impossible to sign, or a word from Heaven that makes it obligatory.

The Anglican Covenant is apparently not that sort of "thing."  It is a document that purports to guide us in our life together as Anglicans in good times and bad.  It is a polity document, in spite of the assurances to the contrary that it does not lean on the canonical authority of each church.  


It is one of those times in Anglican Land where we need to stay awake. There are lions in the night prowling about and trumpets ready to announce the new day. Who knows where this is all leading and why?  


So, stay awake, even if it means having to watch infinite reruns of that old Anglicanland movie, "Can't you love like put up with your Anglican neighbor as yourself?" It may be ecclesiastical hell, but its OUR ecclesiastical hell.

14 comments:

  1. Good news from down under. The Maori Tikanga (cultural stream) of the three Tikanga Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has rejected the Anglican Covenant in synod, so it is now dead in the the water in that province.

    h/t to Father Bosco at www.liturgy.com
    http://www.liturgy.co.nz/blog/maori-reject-anglican-covenant/7349

    wv = reriting
    They best get to reriting the Anglican Covenant if they wish a document that all can sign in good conscience.

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  2. Sorry Father B, that URL should be;
    www.liturgy.co.nz

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  3. Justice requires constant vigilance. I don't know who said that, but I've found it is true. The Anglican "Contract" needs to be carefully watched. We need as many eyes on this puppy as possible.

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  5. 1) The above is OFF-TOPIC and

    2) Funny, no link provided ("a homosexual candidate for the Episcopal priesthood"? Please. Bog-standard homophobic spin)

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  10. I am of the yes-or-no school, and, as you very well know, I think the church’s answer should be no.

    The reality is that most of us in The Episcopal Church almost assuredly are opposed to the Covenant and believe its adoption would be injurious, perhaps even fatal, to the Anglican Communion.

    We do not have an obligation to spare the feelings of our Anglican brothers and sisters. Instead, we have an obligation to try to save the Anglican Communion from itself. We can only do that by rejecting the Covenant quickly and definitively.

    N.B. My proposed resolution can be found on my blog.

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  12. Dear Anonymous...you are neither clever nor cute.

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  14. Like my friend Lionel, the other members of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, and you, I think the right thing to do is vote it up or or down, and I am on the no side.

    If we and other major portions of the communion vote no, as I expect many to do, we can engage in a post-covenant conversation about how we live together in this Anglican house. It is time to drive a stake through the heart of this bad idea and invite our sisters and brothers around the world to a real conversation about community.

    I think you can be sure that the coalition's members are not planing to go to sleep on this. We understand that if we all fail to pay attention, some deeply unpalatable things might happen.

    FWIW
    jimB

    FWIW
    jimB

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