The string of beads - revised

Well, the list of congratulatory notes to Bill Atwood and his impending ordination as bishop for the US from Kenya is larger by at least one note, and now, on June 16th by another.

Archbishop (oops Presiding Bishop - corrected by someone reminding me of the formal name) Venables of The Province of the Southern Cone chimed in yesterday. After congratulating Canon Atwood he said,

"In the painful circumstances of the Anglican Communion I deeply appreciate the bonds which link many primates together. I welcome the prospect of congregations under my care and protection working more closely with those of Kenya and other provinces. In the absence of even a tiny indication of willingness from the Episcopal Church to address the crisis, those who wish to remain orthodox within the US cannot be abandoned. Collaboration among Provinces working in the States and the Network is helping build a unified future for those who share the historic Biblical faith." (highlight mine)

Uganda's announcement was much the same.

I reported on this larger collaboration yesterday noting that while this may be an effort to put a good face on something that might not have been good news, the results are being touted as part of a plan. Venables talks here of a "unified future" - that would be a unified future involving AMiA- Rwanda, CANA-Nigeria, NAAC-Kenya, and Venables/Lyons - Southern Cone, and some from the Network gang. I suspect Uganda will come in some time soon, adding yet another bishop to the string of beads.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has already decided that the AMiA bishops and Bishop Minns are not invited to Lambeth. Using that measure I would think that Bill Atwood will not be invited. But these bad boys are the wayward offspring of their Primates. Slapping the hands of the grasping children is a poor substitute for soundly criticizing the marauding fathers. In any kind of consistent response, these Primates ought not be invited either.

But of course all of this is predicated on the notion that the Archbishop of Canterbury has to exercise care about who he invites, lest others invited are bent out of shape and the "fellowship" of this particular ring be broken.

He might have been better off to invite the whole lot of them - the less than acceptable, the grasping children, the marauding fathers, the mad and the strange, and let it all shake down. Then at least those who stay away are simply not accepting invitation, and those who come simply come. There is perhaps a scriptural basis for this: In response to the invitation, then at lest the yes would be yes and the no would be no. (No swear words needed.) But of course that requires a level of maturity that seems lacking.

As it stands the "unified future" envisioned by Presiding Bishop Venables has all the makings of yet another world wide church made up of people who are too pure to hang around with most of us and too tightly wound to hang around with Jesus, who on last sighting was handing out bread without asking for passports.


  1. Mark, our minds are running along similar lines. It seems to me that the "liberal" cause has more to commend it to other liberals than the "conservative" movement does with other conservatives -- fiven the very divisive issues of the ordination of women, &c.

  2. It's a curiosity to me that over at Stand Firm, we see increased pointing to the "coordination" of these efforts.

    I agree with you and Tobias. It strikes me that coordination over and against a common threat, perceived or otherwise, is one thing. Putting together unified theology and discipline, if not leadership, when the dust settles will be quite another.

  3. "As it stands the "unified future" envisioned by Presiding Bishop (sorry he's not archbishop/LR) Venables has all the makings of yet another world wide church made up of people who are too pure to hang around with most of us and too tightly wound to hang around with Jesus..." Canon Harris

    Boy is that the truth. Over wound +Venables doesn't have the sense or good fortune to "form" even a tiny Province on his own without rushing out and blaming the "failings" of other Anglicans...let's not get carried away (or even take seriously) a "unified future" worldwide Church with this grandiose, yet imagined, game plan of playing pretend (don't hold your breath) that other Christians NEED his protection (egads) and will buy into his truth (gulp)...find a comfortable place to sit (not STAND) because there won't be any Latin American rush toward the Venables convenant of excluding and then including fellow Christians at the purity campaign...pretty and pristine illusions are a specialty in Latin America and nobody will "buy" that pontificating from him (unless, of course, he's got a free mattress, 50 lbs of rice/beans and two lengths of tin "lamina" to sweet'n up his exclusion campaign.

    Venables and his outreach mission, his "stewardship" priorites and his carping about fellow Anglicans ain't sell'n like hot tortillas tres tiempos south of the border(s)...better to try his luck up North.

    don Leonardo Ricardo the short (on patience and brotherly love)

  4. We've dealt with this issue at The True, Really, I Mean It Church™ by jumping on the Band Wagon.

  5. Help, Fr's Marcos and Mickeyo, the Padre Mickeyo "linko" doesn't worko!

    Por favor!

  6. Dear Anonymous and frustrated....It worked for me just a moment ago. I notice the link is not all on one line and wonder if your copy function only picked up the first part. Anyway, here it is again: http://padremickey.blogspot.com/2007/06/tonight-on-very-special-friday-red-mr.html

  7. I was tracking the same set of press releases, but coming to a bit of a different conclusion. I think we are seeing the begining of a fracturing of the anti-TEC community.

    The scrambling after the initial announcement to explain that of course everyone who condems the bad liberal North agrees and approves suggests to me that the ambitous are not all reading from the same book. Everyone agrees TEC is the bad guys, but everyone also knows that their version of 'orthodox Anglian' truth is the only correct one. Everyone also knows by now that the pot of gold at the end of the North American right wing rainbow is not very large. And everyone is begining to understand that TEC is going to win most of the litigation, and keep most of the assets.

    So, I think we are seeing a dual set of cleavages.

    The first set criss crosses as we have yes and no voices on women's orders running through the evangelical, anglo-catholic, and charismatic groups. There are also an ethnic / national fissures that will likely emerge.

    The second set (more important to the participants) is the power split. From the aspect of the 'presenting issue' Bp. Minns can clearly accomidate the Kenyans. A finer example of a homophobic theologian cannot be found. But, he reports to ABp Akinola. There is no power, and no tithe from American gifts for Kenya in that hiearchy.

    I think the cleavages are already cutting in several ways. African archbishops do not seem to be communicating with each other, and they are not communcating with the American rejectionists. So we see the begining of what will likely be another disporia of the right.

    Knowing however that they have only got importance in the context of Lambeth and the primate's parties if they are perceived as a block, they have to announce they all favor and indeed were in agreement with Kenya's action. It is likely, I think, that had we access to some of the faxes, emails and phone calls, the picture might be a lot less unified.


  8. Interested to learn that the correct title of Venables, who does not strike me as a man to sell himself short, is presiding bishop and not the commonly used archbishop. Perhaps you can shed light on another Southern Cone mystery - the question of the approximate size, in terms of professing members, of the province. The Southern Cone's postings on the Anglican Communion website shed no light. Someone at Thinking Anglicans referred me to a piece by Fr. Jake, which gave an estimate of 20,000. Wondered if you might have sources of your own. 20,000 seems a bit on the slim side to qualify for description by the Daily Telegraph as a "senior Anglican conservative". Thanks, Roger.

  9. lapinbizaare: I have heard 30,000 members. With seven dioceses that is roughly 4000 members per diocese. Some dioceses, Uruguay and Bolivia, are very small.

    Venables is a SAMS England Partner. On the Anglican Communion site he is titled Presiding Bishop. The province was formed in 1981 although the metropolitical authority was given over in 1973.

  10. The link to Padre Mickey in the text has one too many slashes after http:

    fr mickey

  11. I recall that one of his predecessors did a sterling job of cosying-up to the Argentine junta during the Falklands/Malvinas business, but it was likely a sensible action at the time - the dinner invites might have dried up otherwise.

  12. Just a thought, but there is much in the "just invite everybody and let God sort'em out" when it comes to Lambeth 08. What might happen, however, is that while the ABC looks for a time of consultation and communion, inviting everybody would possibly entail some parts of the communion loading up on bishops and bringing'em all in order to force a more legislative atmosphere complete with interdicts, indictments and importunities.

    Still, the party is the ABC's and so he should invite whom he pleases.

    I doubt there will ever be the kind of unity some seem to find necessary for communion. there never really has been in the history of the whole Christian church. It's too bad that bonds of affection have to be made with steel chains binding close rather than silk ribbons loosely twined.

  13. How healthy is any "organization" which is against something or someone? To me, the single factor holding this group's attention is fear and/or loathing of homosexuality and TEC's willingness to accept all as equal in God's sight.

    Groups that are organized around following Jesus such as various charities seem to survive and flourish in spite of differences. Church World Service is an example of that sort of cooperation.

    The dissidents need to find a common purpose that is Christ-like if they think they can form any sort of union. For now, it looks like they resemble the warlords in Afghanistan. Anti-TEC but quick to return to their own power struggles when individually threatened.

  14. Why do people continually ascribe emotions to orthodox Christian folk which are simply untrue. A case in point is pseudopiskie's statement: "the single factor holding this group's attention is fear and/or loathing of homosexuality" I personally do not fear homosexuals or loathe any known to me personally. Further, none of my orthodox Christian friends hate, fear or loathe homosexual people. I just believe that what they do with their bodies is not what God intended. I can not order them not to sin, but can tell them that in God's sight, what they do is sinful. That has nothing to do with fear or loathing - it has more to do with concern for their eternal salvation (1 Cor 6:9-10). What do I have to fear from them personally? Nothing. They do not threaten my personal safety or well being. I am simply trying to be faithful and obedient to my Lord in discerning what is good and evil in his sight, according to the Scriptures, and to apply this to my own life and teach others accordingly (Matt 28:19-20; John 7:24). If anything, it is the homosexuals who hate being told the truth and hate the truthtellers, and so distort the plain meaning of Scripture to justify their own sinful actions.

  15. Brian, you misquote and misrepresent.

    It's the fear of homosexuality, not of individual GLBT persons, per se. Your "truth" is based on your contestible reading of contestible passages. I, personally, disagree with that reading.

    You are welcome to your opinion (no doubt you'll now point out how it's shared by X percent of some reference group -- the Anglican version of fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong). But, for the umpteenth time, at the crux of the disagreement here, TEC, as an institution, disagrees with your reading, particularly as a justification for you getting what you want from TEC: institutionalized homophobic, sexist exclusion.

    It's both homophobic and sexist because, at the core, homophobia is sexism: obsessed with gender purity, gender rules; plumbing, and compulsory procreation.

    You do not know what God intended for me to do with my body. Please do not presume to instruct me. Keep tabs on your own tabs and slots.


  16. Brian, do you concern yourself as much with the unjust, fornicators, adulterers, thieves, the greedy, slanderers, and robbers, who are also cited in your proof text?

    If so, you certainly haven't brought up any of those sins around here.

    It's the peculiarly selective moral outrage of the so-called "orthodox," many of whom are themselves adulterers and slanderers and worse, that meads many of us to question their motives.

  17. "I can not order them not to sin, but can tell them that in God's sight, what they do is sinful." Brian F.

    Very sweet speech...unfortunately you are quite presumptious, if not hate/hear driven, as you don't personally know that LGBT people are "sinful" in "God's sight"...a suggestion: please get rightsized and try a little basic humility...we all know God LOVES that kind of human behavior even from seemingly emotionally "well balanced" folk!

    Your GAY brother in Christ,

    Leonardo Ricardo

  18. Passing out bread and letting those street women touch him - oh that Jesus.

  19. Brian,

    Elsewhere on the web, there is a discussion of what the primaetes "requested." The communique demanded an explicit committment from the HOB that its members would vote against or otherwise derail any election of, specifically, lesbian / gay priests elected bishop.

    Consider for a moment, the ugly, illegal, discriminatory ressolution demanded by the presiding bishops at the last general convention. It is clearly a moratorium on lesbian / gay consecrations. Couching those forbidden as, "those whose manner of life" is a problem completely redefines phony. We know from a quick scan of the holy people in wright wing leadership that divorce, dishonesty, you name it, nothing but single gender sex is a "concern."

    So, why the need for even more descrimination? If you don't want to call it 'homophobia' I am OK with 'bigotry.' But(!) claiming it is not specific prejudice is simply not honest.


  20. Firstly, thankyou for your civil responses to my post on 17/6, which have dealt with the issues raised rather than personally attacking me as others have done on other blogs when I raise contentious issues. The Biblical texts in contention have only been in contention for the last minute of Christian history, in time relative terms. For the vast majority of church history, the texts dealing with homosexual behaviour have been plainly understood by faithful Christians from Roman, Protestant and Orthodox churches to prohibit sexual activity between persons of the same gender - the fact they are in contention now is evidence of the increasing sinfulness of western Christians who are refusing to take God at his word, and seeking to distort his clear instructions to us.

    Secondly - yes I do take the other sins listed in Scripture seriously, just as seriously as the sin of homosexuality - and so it is to the western church's shame that it has decided to ordain divorcees, adulterers, and men and women greedy for money and power. Personally I would not elect someone as bishop who has divorced his wife, or been guilty of stealing, lying etc etc. Godliness and obedience to Scripture are among the essential qualifications to leadership of a Christian church. However the fact that such people do now hold positions of authority does not legitimise electing or ordaining other unrepentant sinners to leadership positions. And that is an entirely different issue to accepting sinners at the communion table. The church must be open and welcoming to all sinners, otherwise I would not qualify for church membership.

  21. Brian, it is also the case that the church, for the most part, had no problem with slavery until the 19th century.

    Are you really sure you want to go there?

  22. "Personally I would not elect someone as bishop who has divorced his wife, or been guilty of stealing, lying etc etc. "

    And how are these things - the breaking of vows, stealing, lying - related to the partnership of two human beings who promise to care for each other for life?

    In fact, lifelong and faithful gay partnerships are the very opposite of the other things you class them with. How do you square that circle?

  23. nlnh - I don't have a problem with going there at all. I dispute that the whole church had no problem with slavery, since it was the evangelical movement known as the Clapham Sect in England in the early 1800's which recognised the evil of slavery as then practiced in the western world, and mobilised popular support and applied political pressure for slavery's abolition in the UK. The Christian emperor Justinian unsuccessfully tried to eliminate slavery as early as the 6th C AD. But slavery did not become as thoroughly exploitative as we know it until the opening up of the Americas in the 16C. It was during this time that a few select texts from Scripture were used erroneously by slave traders and owners to justify slavery. Also at that time in the US, the Roman Catholic and Protestant Episcopal churchs failed to take a strong stand against slavery, but that was not the typical response of many other churches in the western world.

    Now what does that red herring have to do with the issue of acceptance of active homosexuals into leadership positions of any Christian church?

  24. BrianF,

    Well, you could just as easily say the TEC has taken a stand against misinterpretation of the Bible on the issue of homosexuality. After all, the churches who supported slavery (and I'm not sure it was far more widespread and mainstream than you're suggesting) used pretty "clear" scripture. So, the idea of the slavery and the homosexuality issues being absolutely different is its own red herring.

  25. Now what does that red herring have to do with the issue of acceptance of active homosexuals into leadership positions of any Christian church?

    The point is the weakness of the "we did it this way a long, long time" argument.

    And the picture of opposition to slavery on the part of the church that you draw is far too rosy for reality. As you yourself point out, there was little serious opposition to slavery among Christians until the 19th century.

  26. Indeed as someone who was "there" the events of 1976-79 seem like a trailer to this movie.

    Over the years a succession of people and groups left TEC, largely ignoring that which was already there and claiming to be the proverbial answer to the maiden's prayer. Getting these people to work together then and now is frustrated by differing views of "purity" and a penchant for indulging in personality feuds. As the French say, "The more things change...."


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.