Friday, February 16, 2007

The Ugly Americans

I want to revisit the final paragraph of the Sub-Group's Report:

...We recognise that the Windsor Report was addressed to the whole of the Anglican Communion. This report has been concerned with the response by the Episcopal Church to that Report. We understand that the Anglican Church of Canada is in the process of preparing its response. We have to express our concern that other recommendations of the Windsor Report, addressed to other parts of the Communion, appear to have been ignored so far...
It is a curious thing that it is TEC under the microscope at the Primates' Meeting. Do the Primates really believe that we are the only Province seeking a pastoral response to the realities we face today?

As but one example, let's consider the one area that the Report felt TEC fell short; public rites for blessings. Consider this recent comment by Dan:

...The SF crowd has a stronger case for blessings but I have always found the blessing thing confusing. I went to gay blessings in the Anglican Church in New Zealand at St Matthews-in-the-City when I lived there in 1991-1992. They advertise them on their website even now (as does St. John's Northcote.) I have also attended them in the Anglican Church of Canada - Diocese of Toronto in 1995 and in the ECUSA in 1994 (All Saints Pasadena). The Telegraph (UK) did an exposé where they found that 4 out of 5 Church of England vicars said ok when asked if they would do a gay blessing...
So why is TEC in the crosshairs? I suspect it has much more to do with the way the USA is currently viewed by the world, with TEC carrying the weight of that image. We find ourselves caught up in our national struggle to balance empire and democracy, to borrow the terms used by Chalmers Johnson. Although it is not usually spoken of, as it may not even be a conscious reaction, I wonder if some of the distrust we are experiencing among some segments of the Anglican Communion isn't connected to the suspicion that TEC is another expression of the American assumption of cultural superiority, with the move towards dominance that usually accompanies such false hubris. Unfortunately, such a depiction of TEC blinds others to one of the gifts we have to offer; a democratic model of Church governance in which all four orders are involved in the discernment process.

In Tanzania, we have had yet another example of the suspicion of "Episcopal (or should I say American?) cooties." A statement has been issued by seven Primates in Tanzania informing the world that they cannot share communion with the leader of TEC. Note that in issuing this statement those seven Primates have broken the agreement they made to not make any public statements until the conclusion of the meeting. I suppose in their zeal to use table fellowship as a weapon such matters of the trust relationship among their peers was a lower priority. I wouldn't give this matter too much attention. It is just another example of bishops behaving badly.

Unfortunately, from the reports of yet more clandestine meetings, with Abp. Akinola leaving the official meeting to plot with his cohorts, most likely we can expect more examples of bad behavior before Monday.

In other news, The Tempest at the Keegan Theatre was great. Prospero was magnificent, and Caliban was a believable monster. Ariel was interpreted in a rather unusual way; more borg than sprite. Her robotic movements and speech patterns were interesting, but detracted from her final scenes with Prospero, in which they grieved their parting.

This morning we attended a performance workshop, "Bill's Buddies," at the Folger Libray and visited the National Cathedral this afternoon.

Or cab driver for our trip back to the hotel was a Yoruban Nigerian. He was a delightful man, quick to laugh and eager to be of assistance. When I asked him about Abp. Akinola, who is also a Yoruban, he had nothing but glowing praise for him, especially his support for...now these were his words..."putting all the sodomites in jail." I asked if this was primarily a Christian reaction or a cultural one, specifically how the Yoruba viewed such matters before they became Christian, and he described some purification rite that was used to cleanse such evil in their pre-Christian days. We also discussed the upcoming Presidential election in Nigeria, which has him deeply concerned, as the current President is backing a Muslim candidate. An interesting conversation.

Tonight we will return to the Folger Library for a production of King Lear. Then tomorrow we head home.

In the meantime, remember to not get too worked up over the "unofficial" news reports. Wait for the final statement from the Primates due to be released early next week.

A final quote to ponder from King Lear:

Love is not love
When it is mingled with regards that stand
Aloof from the entire point.
J.

1 comment:

Padre Mickey said...

Let's just for argument's sake say that the rationale for +Akinola et. al. is that they feel that their avoidance for participating in communion with the rest of the primates is because they don't think the service itself is "valid" based upon the positions of others in the service...
I've been saying that the Most Blessed Primates of the Global South have Donatist tendencies. If their rational is as stated above, well, it sounds like Donatism to me!

Padre Mickey, Panamanian Augustinian

P.S. Jake, have a good time, but come home soon and fix dis ting, PUHLEEZE! Working from a separate thread feels like the Covenant has already been imposed.