I am tired. It is the end of a long day and tomorrow, at 67 years old, I am leading children's chapel at St. Peter's, Lewes. Tomorrow there are real issues about real engagement with God who at times is displeased and at other times oddly pleased with the doings of the people.
The strange and interesting Anglican internet world abounds with suggestions tonight about how to "solve" the Anglican Communion problem and I hardly have time to pay attention to them. Still, on the offhand possibility that anyone connected with The Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops down there in the Big Easy, aka New Orleans, gives a damn I feel constrained to say several things:
- Of the various proposals for a "mind of the house" resolution, I think the one proposed by Bishop Pierre Whalon is the most interesting. Read it.
- I am very pleased to Church see the report in the Living Church that Bishop Wayne Wright, bishop of Delaware, and therefore bishop with oversight in Lewes, is the chair of the drafting group for the House of Bishops. They have a difficult task but Bishop Wright will do fine. Prayers for all those working on a draft.
- In spite of Fr. Jake, Marshall, and others who think that the idea of voluntarily withdrawing from Lambeth is a good one, I cannot agree. While voluntary withdrawal seems like a defusing scheme it will serve to further affirm the realignment crowd in its claim that we (TEC) in fact did something so out of step with Anglican sensibilities as to make our withdrawal not a matter of humility but a matter of sin. That is, no matter how we might understand withdrawal, it will be viewed by the realignment / dissenter crowd as an admission of particular and specific guilt.
- The Bishop of Egypt made a statement at the HoB meeting, speaking as a member of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council pleading that TEC acknowledge that it is doing something new. He said, "My friends, if you really believe that the truth revealed to you is different from that shown to the rest of the Communion, then you need to uphold that claim with boldness even at the risk of losing unity. If you think it is right and necessary to ordain and consecrate practicing homosexuals and that you should bless same sex partnerships or even marriages, you should be true to what you believe is right and accept the consequences." In a variety of ways this idea is echoed by Kendal Harmon and Ephraim Radner. They both think that TEC ought now accept the consequences (to pardon a political pun) move on. Of course if we do so we are admitting that we are indeed radicals and "reappraisers", whatever that means. We also affirm that we are the ones who have "walked away." But here's the point: at least some of us are not "reappraisers." Some of us will grant the Bishop of Egypt his point – that we need to have the courage of our convictions and take the consequences. But we do not grant the point that we should step away from our engagement with the community of churches that constitutes the Anglican Communion. If we are thrown out, then let that action be a shame on the system that did it. Let us not be instruments of our own oppression. Some in The Episcopal Majority believe we are in fact doing what the church ought to do – take scripture seriously. Some (in a more let us say poetic mode) believe we are doing what God is calling us to do in Jesus Christ, and, well, we will simply have to live out what happens next.
- I continue to believe that TEC needs to do what it is called to do. In this Bishop Anis is right. At the same time we do not need to "give way" to the "standard position of the rest of the Communion." What is at stake here, at least on the level of the development of "community standards" is that some Lambeth Resolutions, and in particular 1998, 1.10, have taken on extra – Provincial meaning. No other statement by any Lambeth conference has had this extraordinary power. The Lambeth Quadrilateral has acquired its level of acceptance by virtue of its place in the ongoing thinking of several of the Provinces. But I would suggest that it does not "command respect" in the way proposed for 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10. Lambeth 1998 1.10 has become an idol.
- I like everything about the idea of not going to Lambeth except this: The unity of the full house is required for this. If this possible it is because the whole house will see this as an occasion for unity of negatives. It is an agreement that all have sinned. Well, of course. That is true. But this is not about sin, this is about the question of how "our hearts burned within us as He talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures." (Lk. 24:32) Some of us believe that the scriptures have indeed been opened in new ways, opened by the Lord himself.
- The final problem with the notion of withdrawal from Lambeth is that, like all withdrawal methods, it does not finally mean that there will be no complications. Most of what confounds the Anglican Communion today derives from years of unresolved difficulties. TEC's not going to Lambeth is hardly a prophylactic. Whatever is at the core of our difficulties as a community of churches is not resolved by going or not going to Lambeth. Indeed it can be argued that we precisely need to be together at Lambeth in order to better get a respectful sense of who we are for one another.
Now tomorrow I have to try to help children (and myself) get in touch with the Gospel, involving as it does dishonest stewards, loving God or money and other matters whose current applications would be most amazing if attempted. Better that then this!