Monday, April 16, 2007

He's Coming

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in a news conference in Canada, has just announced he intends to accept the invitation of the House of Bishops to visit with them in September -- and bring members of the Primates' Steering Committee with him.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been roundly criticized by all sides, but part of me continues to wonder if he isn't working out a much longer-term strategy that hopes to outlast some of the more belligerent voices that have proven so painfully divisive. That's as far as dare to go with speculation, expect only to say that Rowan Williams is -- for sure -- much smarter than I am. (Which is why he's the Archbishop of Canterbury and I am not!) :)

It seems good news to me that he has agreed to engage in an opportunity for deepening relationship, avoiding the pitfalls that have dominated Anglican discourse recently: of blatant objectification of our sisters and brothers in Christ and lobbing thinly veiled theological and ecclesiological threats at each other over oceans.

Good for Rowan Williams, I say, and I say again good for our House of Bishops, but with one major caveat -- one I add to this post much too late. That is, Rowan Williams will apparently be meeting with our bishops, but not our Executive Council, nor any of our LGBT advocates, except perhaps +Gene Robinson. In this way, more subtle objectification continues -- not only of those in our church most directly affected by the Primates' recommendations, but of our laity as well. It's another sign that Rowan Williams (and many of the Primates for that matter), at best, comes out of a very different ecclesiastical culture than ours. At worst, it only perpetuates the darkest side of this whole mess: the continued disenfranchisement of devoted members of this church.

And perhaps, as Fr. Jake suggests, the Archbishop of Canterbury is only coming under duress. That indeed shifts the "glass-half-full" view of his visit to "glass-half-empty." Jake tends to be more generally suspicious than I, but then he's got much more experience, too.

Meanwhile, Mark Harris alludes to Ezekiel with the question "Can these Bones Live?" in a thoughtful and insightful (no surprise there!) analysis of where things stand with the Instruments of Unity and the Anglican Communion.

I can only reiterate that I agree wholeheartedly with his central point: real Communion is found in mutual, on-the-ground, incarnational relationship, not in Primates' Communiques, ultimatums, or (arch)bishops rattling their respective ecclesiastical swords.


3 comments:

obadiahslope said...

Richard,
your major caveat should not be directed at the Archbishop in my view.
He was issued an invitation from your HoB to meet with them. They could have suggested a joint meeting with your executive council, or expressed a desire to have the meeting earlier if that was desired.
Who can speak for TEC? Some interpretations would suggest that he can only meet with TEC if he meets with the general convention.
At this stage the EC could still be invited I guess.
Any sense that the Arhbishop in this instance has imposed an agenda by choosing who he meets with from TEC can't be sustained. It is the TEC side that set up the terms of the invitation.

R said...

Obadiah,

Definitely a fair comment. The caveat might have been better directed at the whole group -- the HoB and the Archbishop.

At any rate, I agree that there certainly remains the possibility that Executive Council and other groups will be invited to attend as well by the HoB.

Peter Menkin said...

A little quiet is welcomed, and the Archbishop has had the patience to wait to reflect on the situation. What comes about is a lack of confidence in the Archbishop and the communion. If I may be so bold, let us have confidence and even affection for the Archbishop. I admire the man, myself. He models a good suggestion, a little silence for a while.

Some want him to "save us" and because I am an American, I think we must join together with faith in ourselves as well as our Bishops so as to continue the communion. There you have a hopeful thought.