Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A Summary of the Summaries

There's been much written about the Windsor Report in the last 36 hours. Here's just a few items that I found of interest;

Here is a summation by Simon Kershaw of Thinking Anglicans.

Here is the most innovative analysis of the Windsor Report I've come across so far. Those naughty bishops.

Beliefnet also offers a well written brief.

Bishop John Shelby Spong's response may be a bit "strident," but is still an important perspective to put into the mix;
The literal-minded are triumphing;
...The Anglican Communion had a relatively minor crisis as new consciousness about homosexuality struggled to be born in the face of ancient prejudice. This commission has taken this minor crisis and turned it into a major revolution that will move Anglicanism toward the literal-mindedness that now threatens not just Christianity, but religious systems all over the world. That is not a future that anyone should welcome. If this report is adopted, it will create a church ill-equipped to live in the 21st century. Death comes in many forms — the inability to embrace new reality is one of them...
Aelred pointed to an article from The Witness that I found to be particularly insightful. This is one of those that you really must read the whole thing, but I'll go ahead and give you an excerpt as a teaser;
The Windsor Report: Reimposing Paternalism?

...The Communion is actually more like the Commonwealth - a federation - than a family. And to invite it to become more of a family by bolstering the role of the father figure is actually to invite more teenage acting-out than has hitherto been the case. For when you bolster the father's authority - by giving him an advisory council so that he can bring the errant to heel - what you actually invite is the errant, if so they be, to err a bit more, to test further the boundaries...

...the undersong of the communion is not family but friendship. And friendships flourish and mature - as the journey on the Emmaus road makes clear - precisely as those traveling disagree with one another. For the person who accompanies them, reveals the scriptures, and interprets their disagreements for them, helping them to achieve a sense of context and balance, is of course Christ, the ultimate guarantor of friendship and reconciliation.
Christianity Today reports that the Windsor Report Leaves Conservative Episcopalians Hopping Mad. I wonder if it would make them feel any better to know that this eccentric heretic is not too pleased with it either? Probably not.

Archbishop Akinola is pretty upset as well;

Why, throughout the document, is there such a marked contrast between the language used against those who are subverting the faith and that used against those of us, from the global south, who are trying to bring the church back to the Bible?...Where is the language of rebuke for those who are promoting sexual sins as holy and acceptable behavior? The imbalance is bewildering...

...the primary recommendation of the report is 'greater sensitivity' instead of heartfelt repentance...We have been asked to express regret for our actions and 'affirm our desire to remain in the communion.' How patronizing! We will not be intimidated...If they do not repent and return to the fold, they will find that they are all alone. They will have broken the Anglican Communion.
Spong and Akinola are both perturbed by this document. Does that tell us anything? Here's the conclusion that Hugo came to;
I'll be the first to admit it: in the world of Anglican blogging, I often only know whether something is "good news" or not based upon the responses of the cyber-savvy traditionalists. If they are unhappy, then there must be reason to rejoice. I don't mean that nastily, mind you! I simply have found that in most cases, the American Anglican Council is a lot like Focus on the Family: knowing what they oppose allows me to be clear on what I support. In this age of information overload, it's really rather helpful.

Seriously, though, I like any report that calls folks back from the brink of schism. More than anything else, what I read here is a rebuke to self-righteous certainty, whether that hubris appears from the right or from the left. I like that.
When the extremes are upset, there's a chance that we're dancing near the truth.

This evening I found myself struggling to identify the various emotions trying to rise to the surface in response to all of this. Then I found a reflection on the significance of this report being released on the feast of St. Luke the Physician by maggi dawn;

Last night, for reasons that had nothing to do with the report released earlier in the day, I travelled a short distance from home to celebrate the Eucharist for St Luke with a community known for its sympathetic and liberal attitude towards gay and lesbian clergy. The Eucharist was sweetly old-fashioned, somewhat of a minority style among church-goers. The atmosphere was warm, and I received the kind of welcome one doesn't always get in Church. This is a community that has held many people safely while they come to terms with their sexuality; it is a community that is deeply marked by the love and presence of Christ.

I don't know what we, the Anglican Communion, will do in terms of walking forward together. But I felt a curious mixture of sadness, confusion and hope as I took Communion last night; sadness knowing that for some years to come people such as these will struggle as they are marginalised and outcast; confusion, because on a day commemorating the healing of the gospel we have opened a great gaping wound in the Church and do not know how to mend it; but hope from Luke the beloved physician and his reminder that the gospel is for everyone, not just those who are regarded as 'acceptable' according to the criteria of religious and cultural tradition.
Sadness, confusion and hope; yes, that's it. Thanks for these words, maggi, and for reminding me that the truth is often discovered within community, among the living testaments to the hope that springs from trusting in the healing power of God's love.


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