Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Drama in Tanzania

I have strangely found little urge to post at length about the unfolding drama in Tanzania as the Primates prepare to meet. Others are doing a fabulous job of following the ongoing events:

For unfolding media coverage and commentary, watch epiScope and Thinking Anglicans.

Mark Harris also is watching closely and weighing in over at Preludium, and Jim Naughton at daily episcopalian.

And I commend to you Fr. Jake's wise reflection prior to the meeting proper.

I have only a little to add at this point: It's hard to separate polemic from fact, and we will only see what really happened in hindsight as the Primates themselves have a chance to reflect on their time together. . .or not. . .as it still seems to be in some dispute whether a number of the Primates will even sit with our Presiding Bishop. This is a sad reflection on how bad the situation has become. Courage for the Primates, it seems to me, will not merely demand devotion to a particular point of view or even an interpretation of Scripture, but willingness to engage with those who may strongly disagree with them. Only this will prevent schism.

But if our leadership can no longer be at table with each other, then perhaps a parting of the ways would be the most gracious outcome, as it would prevent us from becoming millstones around each others' necks and end the current schoolyard name-calling and antics, which lead us nowhere except away from the life Christ calls us to. Yet again, I also remain mindful of the local relationships between churches and peoples that would become imperiled as a result, and that reminds me to continue praying.

And I cannot forget the oppressed and the marginalized who await the light of God's grace and the gift of dignity in Christian community. The message the Anglican Communion Primates send will be very important witness to the greater world in how we as Church live, or not, into our call to stand with and for those in greatest need.

Still, I am surprisingly calm about the situation. It helps that our Presiding Bishop remains clear and resolute in the most important thing: to be present, whether she is welcome or not. Beyond that, all is in God's hands. And those divine hands have proven more than capable of handling the worst of human messes, which should come to us as no surprise!

God's peace.

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