Wednesday, May 23, 2007

California Responds to the Scapegoating of Bp. Robinson

From Bishop Marc Handley Andrus of California:

...The tactic of exile and isolation has been among strongest tools of oppression against the human spirit. We were created to be in communion, and there is a deep-seated intution on the part of those who wish to hem in human freedom that the best way to do this is to separate us, one from another.

The ground-breaking work of Rene Girard has revealed the mechanism of scapegoating. Girard teaches that Jesus and the Hebrew prophets began loosening the chains of scapegoating. This action of isolating Bishop Robinson is retrogressive, taking us backwards to a shadowy, scary place from which we have already been delivered by Christ and the Prophets.

The isolation and exile of Bishop Robinson has implications for the Communion too, within the larger framework of scapegoating. A former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, once said that if you touch one bishop of the Anglican Communion, you touch them all. This refers to the idea that bishops represent the unity of the Church. The bishop as a symbol of unity is usually understood at the level of a diocese, but there is a larger horizon of meaning - when we look at one bishop our spiritual vision can see all bishops everywhere, for the unity represented is most importantly the unity of the Church throughout the earth.

The isolation and exile of Bishop Robinson rebukes the bright vision of the unity of the Church, and substitutes the mechanism of the diabolic, the shattering of communion and integrity. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to meet this action on our Archbishop's part with the weapons of the spirit. I will be praying that my response and our response will be in solidarity with Bishop Robinson, mindful of our relatedness worldwide, full of shalom, and creative, in the manner of Jesus Christ.
"...weapons of the spirit..." Strong words. Maybe too strong for some. Personally, I think Bp. Andrus has got it right.

The exile of Bp. Robinson must be our line in the sand. Our response must be equal to the gravity of this diabolic decision. If the House of Bishops make a strong statement that they will not be party to such scapegoating, there is a possibility that further invitations might be extended over the next fourteen months.

I'm not suggesting that our bishops make idle threats. If they decide to to make a bold statement, such as refusing to participate in Lambeth unless Bp. Robinson is granted full voice and vote, they will need to be willing to live with the consequences of that statement, regardless of the response from Canterbury.

But, if all we have from the bishops are strong words, but no action, then Canterbury will assume that they will show up for Lambeth, and, beyond a few ruffled feathers, all will be well. Dr. Williams must be dissuaded from making such an erroneous assumption.

The bishops have fourteen months. What occurs during that time will depend very heavily on the initial responses we see over the next few weeks. Waiting to see which way the wind blows simply will not do. What Dr. Williams has done is wrong. It is unacceptable. May our bishops state this clearly and boldly, both in word and in deed, in the days to come.


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