Friday, June 11, 2010

The Dark Side of Canterbury...Perhaps

I want to engage in a bit of an experiment. For the next few minutes, I want to allow voice to my own dark side, from which I can imagine the dark side of others. Here's what I see.

What if, in a desperate move to hold the Anglican Communion together, Dr. Williams is playing a very dangerous political game?

In order to play such a game, the role of Archbishop of Canterbury would have to be seen as a postition from which one can wield power. Ecclesiastical power, in this case. But a manifestation of power just the same, even in its weakened form in today's reality.

One way to have others recognize your power, your authority, your ability to dominate another, is to proclaim that certain people must be punished for their actions. Check.

But by what criteria would the person attempting to solidfy their power choose the victim that would set the example? Of course they would choose the one who is the most desperate to hold on to the bonds signified by the relationship with the one doling out the punishments.

So, in this case, who would be the most desperate? I would suggest that would be TEC.

Why? Well, as but one example, consider the recent decision in Virginia. The only reason the higher court did not agree with the schismatics, meaning those attempting to steal property, is because there has been no official division in TEC or the Anglican Communion.

But, let's say TEC decided to cease any contributions to various bodies within the Anglican Communion. Or, imagine that TEC, by order of Canterbury, is excluded not only from the ecumenical dialogues and the Unity, Faith and Order Commission, but our Primate is not invited to the next Primates' meeting. Or, what if TEC decided to launch our own Communion, made up of like minded Provinces. Could a case be made that there has indeed been an official split in the Anglican Communion, and even within TEC? Perhaps. It would certainly improve such a case, which is exactly what CANA, and the other schismatics, are hoping for.

Do keep in mind that we have wolves prowling the perimeter. ACNA would love to step into the void, if TEC was to act rashly, and send a message that we have no need of Canterbury.

What if Dr. Williams has weighed these realities, and come to the conclusion that the safest body on which to flex his power is TEC? Will we really pull our support (and our funding) when we have so many court cases still dependent on the fact that we are full members in the Anglican Communion? A safe bet on Canterbury's part, I'd say.

And, an effective way to get the other "troublesome" Provinces to toe his line. It appears as if that is exactly what has happened in Canada. Note this line from their "Sexuality Discernment Report," specifically addressing same sex blessings (the second suggested moratorium in the Windsor REPORT...not LAW, but REPORT):

...At this time, however, we are not prepared to make a legislative decision...
You do realize, that in the eyes of Canterbury, that is enough to give Canada a free pass. They have not done anything formally in Synod to go against the Windsor recommendations.

And the Southern Cone response to the border crossing letter from Canon Kearon? Most of us could write that for them, I suspect. Of course they will say that was a holding operation for "pastoral reasons," and they have since then passed on those holdings to ACNA. And I bet we never hear another word about it.

So, in the end, TEC will be the chosen single sacrificial lamb, as Canterbury will have discerned that we need him more than he needs us.

Perhaps some of you will now understand a little better the complexities of TEC's position. We cannot simply say we have no need of Canterbury. And Dr. Williams is fully aware of of our perplexing situation. Thus, we have been sacrificed, to appease the extreme literalist sola scriptura folks within the Communion.

Ok, dark side filter off. Now please convince me that I am wrong.


UPDATE: George Conger is reporting that Bp. Katharine received a letter from Canterbury on April 17 asking her to step down from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. Do keep in mind that Conger has been known to get stuff wrong before, so, until this is verified, we need to take it with a grain of salt. However, if it does turn out to be even partially accurate, I'd suggest it is additional evidence that we may indeed now be dealing with D. Williams' dark side. Mark Harris has more on this here.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Responses to the Pentecost Punishments

Bishop Katharine has described the removal of members of TEC from ecumenical dialogues as "unfortunate." She also offers a good summation of one reason we consider border crossings a "big deal":

...Asked whether Williams has adequately addressed the issue of cross-border interventions, Jefferts Schori said, "I don't think he understands how difficult and how painful and destructive it's been both in the church in Canada and for us in the U.S. ... when bishops come from overseas and say, 'Well, we'll take care of you, you don't have to pay attention to your bishop.'" Such actions "destroys pastoral relationships," noted Jefferts Schori. "It's like an affair in a marriage," she said. "It destroys trust."
It's important that those who dismiss these intrusions by foreign bishops "get" this point. There have always been congregations who disagree with their bishop on one point or another. Sometimes those disagreements can go on for years. Eventually, there is always some kind of reconciliation. But, when you add the new dimension of an "off shore bishop" standing in the wings wooing that congregation away, the reconciliation process is never given a chance. That kind of behavior is highly destructive, and quite unethical. It simply cannot be tolerated.

Inclusive Church has written a letter to our Presiding Bishop. Here's the concluding papragraph:

...To agree to a voluntary self exclusion would not be to agree to a self- denying ordinance for the good of the whole. Gay Anglicans are part of the Anglican Communion in every province. Some are facing persecution by their own churches because of their courageous witness. By remaining at the table, the Episcopal Church has the opportunity to remind those who serve on representative bodies of their existence and to raise their voice. We ask that you resist this misguided process that is formally excluding those who speak for people the Communion should urgently be seeking to include...
I agree with the basic premise here. This is not the time for us to abandon our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Communion. Isolationism is not the answer.

But, thinking pragmatically, how would we go about "resisting" this "misguided process"? Do we just show up anyway? That would most likely result in some unpleasant scenes between us and the other Anglican members present, with our ecumenical partners looking on. I'm not so sure that kind of confrontation is a good way to convince other faith traditions that we have something of value to add to the conversation. It would more likely accentuate the pitfalls of following our lead.

So, do we create our own ecumenical dialogues? Actually, we are already in separate conversations with most of those faith traditions represented in the "official" Anglican dialogues, so there's no point in reinventing the wheel. However, to hold up our ecumenical discussions as some kind of equivalant to those going on within the Communion would suggest a move towards developing an alternative Communion. That would be using the same tactic that GAFCON and the Global South are well known for putting in play. Personally, I find such threats of abandoning Canterbury rather childish. I would hope TEC will not resort to such immature tactics.

I wonder if there might not be a way for the members of these ecumenical dialogues to invite those excluded by Canterbury to be present as "consultants." Dr. Williams introduced this possibility when he "demoted" Dr. Grieb to the status of "consultant" on the Unity, Faith and Order Commission. Perhaps the various parties involved in the ecumenical dialogues can take the initiative and, regardless of what Dr. Williams or Canon Kearon have to say about the matter, express their desire for TEC to be represented in their conversations, even if our role has to be redefined to satisfy the control needs of the leadership of the Anglican Communion.

I suspect that there is already some kind of formal response from TEC being crafted. A little bird, with no purple feathers, btw, told me that the House of Bishops had some kind of discussion yesterday. I don't know what the specific issue was, but I'd bet it had something to do with these attempted Pentecost punishments. Watch for a statement from the Bishops soon.

I think this attempt by Canterbury to assert his authority, and to apparently side with those who are attempting to drag Anglicanism into the literalist sola scriptura camp, requires a response. But I'm personally rather conflicted as to what form that response should take.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

About This Awful Commenting Tool

There's been a few complaints about the Echo (JS-Kit) commenting tool I'm now using. There's been enough of them that I feel it's time to offer you an explanation.

Back in 2003, when I opened this place, Blogger had no commenting feature. The commenting tool from Blogger (Google) was not offered until May, 2004. But, I wanted comments in 2003, so I went looking around. The blogs that I visited used various comenting services. After some time of reviewing options, I finally settled on Haloscan.

Haloscan had many features that I really liked, such as being able to edit the template and a simple one page review of all new posts that made moderation much easier than the new product Blogger came up with a year later. So, I stuck with Haloscan.

About three years later, this site started hopping. It was not unusual to get 300 comments for every post. Haloscan served me well during those busy years.

Six months ago, I was informed that Haloscan had been purchased by JS-Kit (Echo). Since Haloscan comments cannot be imported to Blogger, if I didn't want to lose 6 years of comments, I had to go with the new company. I was offered no other option.

JS-Kit refers to this as an "upgrade." Their model, which I'm sure many of you recognize, is the way comments are handled on Facebook. It is less than satisfactory.

To add insult to injury, as a "Haloscan" customer, I am not given any access to templates or other codes. Nothing, except one brief line of script, was added to my Blogger template. They are using the existing Haloscan code. So, there is no way for me to modify anything. Apparently, JS-Kit figures I'm lucky to have what I've got. I've asked them when I'll be given access to my template. I've yet to get an answer, except, "we're still upgrading."

So, out of frustration, and in response to some of your complaints, I went surfing for some hacks. I found one that puts the comments in descending order, as they used to be with Haloscan. And I found a way to block the feature that collapsed long threads, requiring you to click a link to expand it. That should make things a little less confusing.

I have still not solved the problem of deleting a comment without those below it disappearing. That is a very strange feature that I'll have to work on.

I also want to change the color scheme, enlarge the font, and get rid of all that cutesy crap (facebook links etc.). And yes, JCF, we MUST get the "preview" feature back! But I'll have to wait until I'm deemed worthy to access my own template to do all that, I guess.

So, the short version is that I did not choose this awful commenting tool. I chose Haloscan before Blogger had a comments feature. To avoid losing thousands of comments, I'm stuck with Echo, who bought out Haloscan.

Hope this answers some of your questions. I'm sorry folks. Be patient. I'll eventually work out all the bugs.


Monday, June 07, 2010

The Pentecost Punishments Move from Threat to Reality

We recently discussed Canterbury's Pentecost Punishments, in which Dr. Williams outlined his intention to discipline those Provinces who ignored the requested moratoria regarding consecrating gay bishops, same sex blessings and border crossings. Apparently, these were not idle threats. From a statement by the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion:

...Last Thursday I sent letters to members of the Inter Anglican ecumenical dialogues who are from the Episcopal Church informing them that their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued. In doing so I want to emphasise again as I did in those letters the exceptional service of each and every person to that important work and to acknowledge without exception the enormous contribution each person has made.

I have also written to the person from the Episcopal Church who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), withdrawing that person’s membership and inviting her to serve as a Consultant to that body.

I have written to the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada to ask whether its General Synod or House of Bishops has formally adopted policies that breach the second moratorium in the Windsor Report, authorising public rites of same-sex blessing.

At the same time I have written to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces.

These are the actions which flow immediately from the Archbishop’s Pentecost Letter...
So, three sacrificial lambs, one for each of the three moratoria, have been chosen; TEC for consecrating Bp. Glasspool, the ACC for same sex blessings, and the Southern Cone for border crossings.

The first interesting thing to note is that it is only TEC that has been requested to remove its members from the ecumenical dialogues and the Unity, Faith and Order Commission. Canada and the Southern Cone were simply sent letters asking for further clarification.

Perhaps TEC has been singled out because of the wording of Canterbury, in which he spoke of "...provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria..." (emphasis added). I suppose that the consent process following the election of Bp. Glasspool might be considered a "formal" adoption of a policy that breaches one of the requested moratoria. Yet, one would think that a letter requesting clarification from TEC, rather than this punitive action, would have been the expected next step. After all, is there any question as to what the Southern Cone has been doing? They are sheltering entire schismatic dioceses, and accepting deposed bishops into their House of Bishops. Yet they receive a courtesy letter.

Perhaps Dr. Williams figures TEC can take the heat? We've survived such stunts in the past. Or maybe he thinks we are so desperate to remain in the Communion, at least until the lawsuits involving the properties stolen by the schismatics are resolved, that we'll accept quietly whatever he dishes out?

In the end, these punishments appear to be symbolic. The removal from two Anglican bodies is not terribly significant. And it seems clear that one Province for each of the moratoria was selected as an example that Canterbury "really means it, this time." I would certainly hope that Canterbury doesn't imamgine that TEC is the only Province consecrating gay bishops, or that the ACC is the only Province doing same sex blessings. If so, he might want to take a closer look in his own backyard, as well as in a few other Provinces in which such things happen on a regular basis. And why is the Southern Cone the example of border crossing, and not Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya? Is the message here that it is open season on North and South America, but Africa gets a free pass?

Over on The Lead, Jim Naughton makes a very astute observation. If Dr. Williams is going to start asserting the kind of power some hoped a new Covenant would grant him, why do we need a Covenant? And if you were concerned about the Covenant excluding some folks, your concerns have been justified. If this is an example of what "enforcement" under a Covenant will be like, there will indeed be a new "second class" membership within the Communion, with the literalist "sola scriptura" gang deciding who is in and who is out.

If this is an indication of who will and who will not be represented at the next Primates' meeting remains to be seen. However, if the Americans are excluded, I seem to hear an old line from our nation's short history ringing in my ears...something about taxation and representation?

Another bit of trivia from our history comes to mind as well. This one is a line from a doctrine that is known rather well on this side of the pond:

...the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers...
Perhaps this might be an opportunity to work towards common goals with the Southern Cone against the European powers? Who knows. Call me a romantic if you must, but, yes, I believe in miracles!