Imagine there's no AC, it's not so hard to do....

Episcopal Cafe has just posted an essay by Frank Turner,the John Hay Whitney Professor of History and director of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Yale University. The title is The imagined community of the Anglican Communion.

All I can say is, READ IT!

One tidbit,

"In his recent garrulous meditation on the General Convention of the Episcopal Church the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote of the Anglican Communion being important to “our identity.” He did not identify the antecedent to “our.” Certainly throughout the world the people who most identify with the so-called Anglican Communion are bishops. If one looks to the website of the Anglican Communion (the Internet being the equivalent of the print media within which early nineteenth-century nationalism emerged), what are described as the “Instruments of Communion” overwhelming relate to the various episcopates. The laity play little role and would seem to be intended to play little role. In this respect, the modern so-called Anglican Communion is an invention and ecclesiastical innovation of the clerical imagination."

An important read.


  1. A useful antidote, from a man with impressive credentials, to the snake oil being peddled elsewhere by the self-important. The ACI yesterday issued yet another of its squibs (though on two levels, "bull" would perhaps be a more appropriate term) "proving" that the dioceses of TEC are autonomous units and that they may therefore sign on to the Covenant as independent entities.

    And now, Dr Seitz, back to Don Armstrong's claim that Grace Church made an unrepaid loan of $170,000 to ACI. Caesar's Wife time, Dr Seitz.

  2. outstanding. I'm only an '8 year old' priest, but I can still remember watching all of these things take on a life - simply through repetition... 'faith once delivered,' 'windsor report,' 'time honored teachings of the Anglican Communion' (that's my favorite. where is that book?), 'Instruments of Communion,' 'Primate's Council,' etc. Frank does us a great service by pointing out the obvious - there are a good many churches descended from CoE, but we are not identical, thank God. Now go back to your desks and be nice.

  3. "All I can say is, READ IT!"

    Yes, yes, yes!

    Many very good comments have followed. I posted this one (about which I make no quality claims!):

    I am stunned by Dr. Turner's essay. (I mean that in a good way!) I don't think he says anything that I didn't already know, but I had never quite put it all together that clearly. I've been around long enough to remember the "old" Anglican Communion -- we were all in communion with each other, and we worshipped with each other when we went abroad, and we were active in joint missionary activities, and we cared about each other. I recall that when I was a young man we were visited by Joost de Blank and Ambrose Reeves and Trevor Huddleston from South Africa, seeking our prayers and support in the struggle against apartheid. We thought it was cool that all the bishops got together every ten years for the Lambeth Conference. We had Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence, which seemed like a good thing (and still is!). But none of this really had to do with ecclesiastical organization (I don't belong to any organized religion, I'm an Anglican!). Somewhere along the line we've gone astray, and I think we need to stop it. Perhaps we would be better off if we decided that the Anglican Communion really would be healthier and more focused on the Kingdom of God if we were more like the Lutheran World Federation. (Göran, are you lurking out there?) For heaven's sake, we're in communion with the Lutherans and the Moravians and working hard on the Methodists and the Presbyterians -- why can't we be in communion with ourselves, without trying to run other Churches?

    In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to start using the word "Province" for anything other than its original meaning (Canterbury/York, Dublin/Armagh, the TEC 9, the Canadian 4, the Australian 5, etc.). We are not "Provinces" of the Anglican Communion, we are autonomous Churches within the Anglican Communion.


    My heart breaks because Lauren Stanley can't go back to Sudan. Is it time yet to say "enough!"?

    Everyone drop what you're doing right now and go to http://anglicansonline.org/ on "Taking Lambeth"!

  4. (Imaginary?) Canon Harris:

    Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the covenant concept. (I'm not sure if it is either necessary or evil.) But, if the Anglican Communion is all 'imaginary' and really doesn't matter, then why care about being in the 'imaginary' second tier with the other non-signatories to whatever final draft is ready for signature? Maybe the second tier gives a witness that TEC seemingly want's to give to the rest of the imaginary Anglican Communion. (Just allow dioceses that want to imagine standing a bit closer, the 'local option' of doing so)

    BTW, Canon Harris did you imagine your time ministering among the broader communion? Sounded pretty real (not to mention fruitful and faithful) to me.

    -miserable sinner


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.