Monday, January 22, 2007

Invoking the Devil

Fr. Jake, whose stomach is much stronger than mine, has just mined some disturbing quotations from a few Archbishops in the Anglican Communion.

One invokes the devil and another makes a not-so-subtle allusion to our Presiding Bishop as an unwelcome "stranger" at the Primates' meeting in Tanzania this coming February.

Of interest: the Archbishop of Uganda's not-so-veiled threats apparently have gotten no traction, as he plans to be there, despite his missive to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he would not be able to sit with ++Katharine Jefferts Schori at table.

A comment at Fr. Jake's site says it all. This behavior is not only untoward, but profoundly undignified and, frankly, borders on the adolescent.

I can say I've seen some pretty ugly behavior at church meetings. And I've been ugly on occasion, too.

Apparently even the Primates are not immune.

For whatever reason, when feelings are running high around matters of faith, the gloves can come off and even otherwise upstanding adults are tempted to speak and act out of some ugly places. Go figure. We see it happening amongst the earliest Christians in the Bible.

Some might say that this is the devil at work. Maybe so. The church can be the playground of nastiness just as much as any place, if not more so. But I am cautious about invoking the devil. It slips so easily into demonising each other over misunderstandings or, simply, heartfelt disagreements.

I very much hope all the Primates will be on their best behavior when they gather in Tanzania.

But, like Fr. Jake, there is one person I don't worry about on that score: The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. She has shown time and again she can keep her composure and dignity under pressure. If others try making a scene, they will not be showing her up short. They will only be showing themselves.

I pray it will not be so.

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