Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Crucible of Resentment

Well, it does tend to come all at once.

The "Common Cause" partners are now meeting, venting their heated rhetoric for all who will listen, denouncing The Episcopal Church as the latest anti-Christ. Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh in the midst of a gathering that attacks the Presiding Bishop and commiserates over a sea of grievances now resorts to language that refers to the example of wartime presidents, last stands, and the "lost province." It is all very apocalyptic in tone. Perhaps that's how it feels to the Bishop of Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Akinola, in an extended interview with The Guardian in Nigeria, accuses TEC of resorting to "spiritual slavery" as the latest incarnation of Western imperialism. This is a familiar page out of the politics 101 play book: paint up those you've declared your enemies (i.e. The Episcopal Church, the Church of Canada, et. al.) in the worst way possible and hang on them the weight of responsibility for every ill suffered.

Such is the crucible of resentment.

Schismatic groups are now losing in the courts over their claims on church property, the Archbishop of Canterbury has not delivered with a hoped-for ejection of The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, half-hearted attempts to divide the House of Bishops failed, the bullying by a handful of Primates has not born the desired fruit, and so it is now time to take matters into their own hands and prepare to depart while making as much noise and spitting as much bile as possible. Mark Harris notes with illuminating insight the shift that has now occurred in the realignment crowd: the hope for an alternative or even replacement Anglican province in North America is now eclipsed by a repudiation of Canterbury and hatching plans for an entirely new parallel Anglican Communion.

It is tempting to resent them all in return.

I do my utmost to refuse.

The crucible of resentment is a painful place to live and is ultimately injurious to the soul. It is also most un-Christian, and clearly destructive to the life of community.

But, then, I am apparently a heretic, and I've nurtured grudges from time to time, so what do I know?

Suffice it to say that I find it incredibly sad that the new formulation must (once again?) be the result of rallying against a perceived common enemy, punctuated with an overly exaggerated sense of injury, and the construction of colossal straw men to knock down with as much invective as possible. Maybe this is the dark side of our Reformation heritage.

But at the end of the day, this latest barrage brings more to my mind the all-too-familiar visage of three-year-old temper tantrums than a Spirit-inspired image of the Church at prayer.

When this is over (may it be soon), it will be healing to hear what they are really for. Perhaps Jesus Christ? Yes, he's mixed up in this somewhere.

How I long for him to be revealed.


Anonymous said...

This is a spot-on summary and an important reflection. Thanks.

KJ said...

Are you a heretic too? I've also been called "apostate" and demon possessed, and you know if those are the charges, Jesus is not far away.

R said...


That puts us in good company, then!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Well said. Sad to see so much resentment, but it is clear where it comes from.