Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Nothing New

So some hubbub  is circulating about the announcement of a "new Anglican Province" by a small group of our more disgruntled brothers and sisters.  The Episcopal Café provides some additional food for thought. (Meanwhile, almost as if on cue, the Roman Catholic Church has now named an apparent new threat to the Vatican's sense of order -- a call by the UN for an end to the criminalization of homosexuality.)

My response, quite frankly, is a shrug of the shoulders with a twinge of sadness.  This has been the goal the whole time for the breakaway dioceses, parishes, provinces, and their leadership. Disagreements over human sexuality were a convenient rallying point for a new order.  So they're declaring it at last.  Maybe they will take some of the rancor with them.  Merry Christmas?  Or "Hummmmbug"?
What has been is what will be,
   and what has been done is what will be done;
   there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9

Yes, they will co-opt the name "Anglican" as schismatic groups have done in the past.  But as has been pointed out in a number of places already, the new "province" won't be formally part of the Communion until (if ever) properly ratified by the Anglican Consultative Council -- that is, by a solid majority of representatives of the provinces of the greater Communion.  It is with multiple ironies I write: Best of British luck!

In short, a new church is in the making.  All the power to them, I suppose, but major hurdles await, far beyond the formal process of recognition.  Namely, they will have to come to terms with their own differences in a newly "purified" body of Christians: purified, that is, of gays and lesbians and all of us "reappraising" folk.  That leaves disagreements over the ordination of women, ecclesiastical structure, piety, liturgical norms, and even finer points of theology to be reckoned with. . .

Life will go on.  General Convention meets this summer.  98% of The Episcopal Church will remain just that: The Episcopal Church, with all of its diversity, rough-and-tumble, and shared history and mission.

Tobias Haller offers some sharp insight into the roots of schismatic and otherwise disagreeable ecclesiology and behavior.  Mark Harris is also keeping well up with everything in Anglican Schism Land.

Aside from that, I have little to add, except to wish all, discontented or no, a Holy Advent.  'Tis a time of waiting as much as preparation.  

I close with this before getting back to the real work with real people in this real place: 

Making the ways straight for God has much more to do with reconciliation and lifting up the poor and the voiceless than it does with schism.

Jesus would weep -- were he not, it seems at least to me, so busy with more important things.