Thursday, March 22, 2007

Four Thoughts!

Three posts from Jim Naughton and one from Mark Harris and the commentary that follows caught my eye yesterday evening and this morning:

  1. The property issue wonders how much avoiding nasty litigation over church property may have played into a number of our leaders' considered move away from brinkmanship and the Primatial Vicar proposal put forward by the Primates' Communique. I don't see this necessarily as cynical. Surely almost no one, regardless of theological position, wants Christian mission hanged on expensive litigation. Jim suggests that this question coming to the fore might have been an unintended consequence of the Communique.
  2. A challenge asks what can be done to better hold the Anglican Communion together, short of the current leanings towards greater power for the Primates. It brings back an old rule of participating in a fruitful visioning and planning process: If you don't like the suggestions on the table, do you have an alternative to offer?
  3. Putting on my Frank Luntz hat. . . very wisely posits that "polity" is an arcane, churchy, and most unhelpful word for public consumption. With apologies to Richard Hooker fans (I count myself as one), I agree.
  4. Mark Harris also remarks on Bishop John Howe's gracious pastoral letter, and raises a suggested change of canons to forestall what we just saw happen in South Carolina. In a comment I raised a hypothetical concern -- but in a most overwrought way. Apologies to Mark! But other comments seem to support his suggestion. For all you "canonical wonks" out there. . .


Anonymous said...

enuhfaw"If you don't like the suggestions on the table, do you have an alternative to offer?"
This is a question that could usefully be asked of the HoB with regard to their rejection of the primates scheme.

R said...

In conversations with our bishop this morning, there is a clear sense I got that this question is very much open in the HoB.

An alternative was offered already by our Presiding Bishop and rejected. Our HoB may very well put together another proposal.

The immediate rejection of the Primates' proposal was necessitated by the clear inclination of the ABC to begin moving on it right away.

I would like to think this is all the more reason for the ABC to meet with the HoB and hammer out a mutually agreeable alternative.

Anonymous said...

Your response sounds a little odd to me. Let me explain why. TEC's house of bishops has just said that foreign involvement in addressing the needs of TEC's dissidents is not needed and against TEC's "polity".
Then you say you need to talk to the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to come up with an alternative. Surely if the HoB's view is correct it will come up with a model - which it THEN might discuss with the communion.
Did you get any sense from your bishop that your HoB will move on this issue with any urgency? As you rightly said "If you don't like the suggestions on the table, do you have an alternative to offer?".

R said...


Respectfully, I don't "need" to do anything. Nor does the House of Bishops, except perhaps out of pastoral consideration for a handful of dioceses and bishops who can't respect the leadership of our duly elected and invested Presiding Bishop. And out of respect for the ABC for the efforts, however unhelpful, he has made to try to bring about reconciliation.

Even if the ABC doesn't come for a visit, I imagine the HoB will still be discussing the matter of alternative oversight and how to provide for it within the boundaries of our internal discipline. Having the ABC might make it possible for them to gain his insights from his previous conversations with our more dissident elements and the "Camp Allen" bishops. It would also afford him the ability to return to the Primates with a greater sense of clarity about the reasons for our resistance to their proposals.

The problem our bishops had with the Communique was not working out a plan with say, the mediation of others in the Anglican Communion. It was the implementation of that plan at the behest and arbitrary timetable of the ABC (without reference to our own proper review of a plan that would affect our Province -- our Presiding Bishop, for her many virtues cannot makes such decisions on our behalf), and then the oversight of the plan from, in their words, "prelates" overseas. That fundamentally violates our polity and autonomy.

It would, as I understand it, in any other province of the Communion. Adding insult to injury, the unapologetic jurisdictional boundary crossing without sanction has irritated our HoB no end, to put it mildly.

I can't speak at this point to the matter of urgency in our HoB. But it was the Primates who demanded a deadline. That they will be hearing more before September 30th is the sense I get.

I must tell you, I and many in the Episcopal Church are getting increasingly impatient with the loaded spiritual guns being held to our heads from disgruntled folk both within and without the Episcopal Church.

We do things with deliberation here, and we expect mutual accountability. . .not threats, not bribes, or heavy handed authority figures meddling in our internal affairs, Bishop Duncan, et. al.'s scurrilous appeals to the Instruments of Unity notwithstanding.

Yes, that's American. But it's one of the (few, perhaps) pieces of our culture that I think has some justification from the Gospel.

When Jesus is threatened by the Pharisees and Herod, he does not scramble to appease them. He continues with what he understands is his call by God.

Rightly or wrongly, that is what our Bishops have articulated, and we are prepared to live with the consequences.

Anonymous said...

From the tone of your last post I have upset you. I am not sure what i said to do that, but I am sorry to have irritated you.
I have pointed no gun at you, that's a far more violent metaphor than i care to use. I have made no threats as far as I can tell.
But I am good at upsetting people without intending to. And maybe you are talking about your frustration with the wider debate.
I am puzzled that your HoB in rejecting what the primates put up, did not say "look here is a more excellent way".
It could have been a teaching moment - but as you point out the HoB will deliberate at a deliberate pace. So I will simply wait. It is probably good for me.

R said...


". . .maybe you are talking about your frustration with the wider debate."

Yes. And please pardon my impatience. Another American trait, and not one of our better ones.

Yes, I think the HoB will deliberate. They wanted to intervene immediately at this point simply because the ABC had announced he was proceeding with the "pastoral scheme" right away, admittedly, it seems, out of his desire to move forward towards reconciliation and the conversation about the Covenant post haste.

Lots of haste on both sides -- probably some of which has been for good reason. . .on both sides.

My hopes are two-fold:

The ABC would agree to converse directly with our HoB to achieve greater mutual understanding, for the sake of Communion.

The HoB, perhaps even by September (they are keeping that deadline in mind) would have a Primatial Vicar proposal more amenable to the internal polity of the Episcopal Church as a salient (though second, now, by my count) alternative.

The HoB sincerely hopes the conversation may continue. I know some in the Communion are calling for its ending and for the breaks to happen. Few this side want to see that happen, but I think we (the Episcopal Church as a whole) are clearer now how our actions upset parts of the AC, and we are doing all we can, short of selling some of brothers and sisters or ourselves out (which would be ruinous to many souls and, as we see it, antithetical to the Gospel's witness here), to help our relationships with the Communion move forward. The HoB, of course, wants those to continue and deepen, if possible.

Thanks for sticking with this conversation, as always.

Prayers in Christ.