Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Some Cautiously Hopeful Signs

Andrew Gerns, writing for the Daily Episcopalian, offers us a "must-read" article entitled Anglican Equilibrium. He ties together the bits and pieces that have been cause for some of us to wonder if we are not witnessing a subtle shift within the Communion. I cannot do justice to the entire article here. There are simply too many points worth pondering. Yet, I do want to highlight a few of them.

It appears that there are two camps emerging among the Anglican extremists:

...It looks for all the world as if the heart of the conservative/reasserter movement is getting ready to leave the Episcopal Church with or without the blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The action could be the creation of an Anglican-heritage coalition in the USA or the precursor of a separate, smaller, Anglican-related gathering of provinces who will stay away from the 2008 Lambeth conference...

...In the meantime, other important leaders of the reasserter movement have urged caution and are making the case for staying within the Episcopal Church.

The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc., cautions conservatives not to act too harshly...
This leads to an analysis of what exactly happened that may have caused this division. Before launching into his analysis, Andrew offer his own note of caution:

... The relationships are so complex and the issues so nuanced that it is hard to pin down one cause, and I do not believe that the Communion is out of the woods on this matter by any stretch. Moderates in search of peace and progressives in hopes of victory, both of whom may be seeing glimmers of some kind of resolution, could still be surprised. This movement still has legs and could coalesce seemingly without notice. Still, I want to highlight some changes to the landscape that suggest that we are on different ground than we were a year or even six months ago...
The changes Andrew mentions might be summarized this way:

1. ...News of the invitations to Lambeth was certainly a shock to the reasserters’ movement. For CANA, AMIA and a similar set-up in Brazil to be ignored deprived these groups of Anglican legitimacy. They have in one stroke been reduced to splinter groups or hangers-on..."

2. ...There is no energy from either Lambeth nor the bulk of the Primates to impose a structure on a member of the communion against its will... The example offered for this lack of will is the statement from the Latin American bishops. As a side note, Padre Mickey gives us some good insight on the impact of this statement.

3. ...Recent court actions may have taken some of the romance out of the movement as well... Examples mentioned are the recent court rulings in Florida and South Carolina.

4. ...improved communications by those who support the actions of our General Convention... With the addition of EpiScope, Episcopal Life Online and the Episcopal Cafe, the Episcopal Church has finally entered into this new world of instantaneous news and commentary made available by the internet.

A personal note on this development. After the Windsor Report came out, it was up to the independent progressive bloggers to provide commentary, news links and "push back," as there was little or no communication from TEC, other than the Episcopal News Service, but much commentary coming from the Network and their allies. That has now changed.

Over the last few weeks, I have started over a dozen news items that were never published. One of the steps before publishing is to make sure that no one else is already providing the information. There's little point in duplicating efforts. Every single news item that I've dug up over the last couple of weeks was already up at The Lead. They've put together a good team over there. They find the news and get it out fast.

This improved communication will result in the independents being liberated from the obligation of being a news resource. We can now feel free to explore other things. I'll be able to offer more book discussions, for instance. And maybe not be so serious all the time. We've been set free to re-create ourselves, again. Thanks be to God!

Back to Andrew's analysis.

5. ...Finally, how long can a movement sing a one-note chant? Since the turn of this century, these groups have coalesced around human sexuality, particularly the blessing of same-sex relationships and the consecration of Gene Robinson. But how long will these groups be able to put aside their own theological diversity in the name of anger over a bishop? The divisions among the Anglican extremists are huge. They cannot be ignored for much longer.

Andrew's closing paragraph is worth noting:

...The movement has, at least for this moment, run out of steam because of the hard lessons of communion over many centuries. Either we choose to come together in the name of Jesus Christ, or we choose to stay apart. What we are learning is that not only is Communion a gift from God, it is an act of the will. Whether these groups stay at the table or leave will depend on each one's tolerance for ambiguity as we all try to live the Gospel together in a complex world.
We have good reasons to be cautiously optimistic. It's not over yet, but there are signs that the predictions of doom and gloom may be overly pessimistic.


No comments:

Post a Comment