The Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, aka The Anglican Communion Network, who is also the Chair of the Common Cause Partnership and the Council of Bishops, has a lot on his mind these days. Perhaps too much.
Two different reports of his Sermon at a Eucharist during that meeting stressed references to killing.
ENS in Episcopal Life quotes Bishop Duncan's sermon to Common Cause Partnership:
"My prayer for us who have gathered here is that...we will be such a threat to the present order that we will be found worth killing, if only Columba's white martyrdom, but, if it be so, let it be the red martyrdom," Duncan said, contrasting the "martyrdom" of asceticism with that of death.
"During his sermon in the cathedral, Duncan said that there hasn't been an Archbishop of Canterbury worth killing since 1645, citing Anglican historian Philip Jenkins."
The two references use the words, "worth killing" as a way to indicate the positive value of some people… praying "that we might be found worth killing," and negative value of others, "there hasn't been an Archbishop of Canterbury worth killing since 1645."
I wonder if the Bishop knows how strange this all must sound. On the one hand praying that you are such a threat to the "present order" that you will be found worth killing is a lot different from praying that IF you are seen as a threat you will bear up and hold fast, even IF that involves your death. Then to turn around and suggest that no Archbishop of Canterbury has been "worth killing" both is a slam to the Archbishops and oddly suggestive that a value might be placed on killing people so that some are worth the price and others not.
Any commerce in which people are a commodity whose value, alive or dead involves judging whether or not people are "worth killing" brings cost benefit analysis to a new low. And, not to put too fine a point on it, it is obscene.
There is considerable talk in dissenter circles of spiritual warfare and some talk about the relative merits of martyrdom and the enduring battle of the forces of good and evil. The language needed for this kind of talk is too easily taken from the annals of war or novels of high romance, kings and princes, and sometimes mobsters. The language for this kind of talk is too often idolatrous.
I think it is mostly unbecoming conduct to pray either to be such a pain in the ass as to cause someone to determine that killing you might be worth the effort, or to weight the merits of killing this or that Archbishop.
In the conflict that rages now I suggest a different line of attack. Instead of being killed or killing, perhaps we could fight with laughter, not scornful laughter which has its own problems, but a laughter of robust delight.
For example, when the Moderator suggests that the church has (as ENS reports) "lost its way" and is "weak, in decline and uncertain about Jesus," we might respond, not by deciding we have had enough of this bishop and we ought to kill him, but by deciding to laugh. Laugh loudly and with gusto, laugh not in derision but with fondness, turning the other cheek, as it were.
Biblical warfare using laughter. Great idea. Beats the hell out of setting fire to people, killing them, deciding to kill them, or wanting to be good enough to be killed.
So when they say of The Episcopal Church, they are "weak, in decline and uncertain about Jesus," perhaps all we need to do is laugh. Such laughter requires practice. That is why an occasional visit to The Mad Priest is good for the soul.
When the Church really screws up (which churches do all the time) perhaps its OK to laugh, even in the midst of struggle against its foolishness. Sometimes I think, " What a foolish gang of people the Church is, and what a fool I am for wanting to be with them, and maybe I sell out to their foolishness and make it my own." What did I expect? Well, what I expect is hope in spite of hope - hope not for what I want or think, but hope for what will be revealed.
We will not all die (or kill or be killed), but we will all be changed... And knowing that I laugh.