Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Breaking - Indaba Success!!!

NB: passages in italics are real-life, direct quotes from Williams (or Kearon) about the indababble process.

Mon, Jul 28, 2008
Canterbury, England
AP Wire

Archbishop of Canterbury Solves World's Christian Division

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is a happy man today. After enduring over a week of negative press about the apparent impeding collapse of the Anglican Communion, the much-discussed Lambeth indaba groups have produced an ecumenical coup far beyond what any observers had expected.

For, while hundreds of Anglican bishops (representing about one-third of the Anglican Communion) were talking for two-and-a-half minutes each on a dozen enormous theological and ecclesiastical issues (failing to produce, to no one's real surprise, any resolutions, progress, or even any new commonality whatsoever), the REAL indaba was going on, secretly, behind doors in the highly-secure wine cellar of the University of Kent.

Composing this indaba were Gene Robinson, Roman Catholic cardinal Danneels of Belgium, archbishop Joris Vercammen of the Old Catholic Churches, patriarch Maxim of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, director Berten Waggoner of the Vineyard Churches, president Sinkford of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Hyung Jin Moon of the Unification Church, and Satan, Prince of Darkness and CEO of Hell Inc. Dr. Schori, fuhrer of the Episcopal church, served as archbishop Williams' liasondaughter to the indaba. Reporting on their success, the committee met with the press this evening, Williams and Satan (who has denied his presence at the indaba has had any adverse effect on the English weather) sitting quietly in the background, lounging on a futon and holding hands.

After a week of intensive and vigorous listening (and a sizeable dent in the university's wine collection) the smiling leaders emerged last night to report their indaba's success. "Through our purposeful discussion among equals" said Dr. Schori, "we have moved beyond our petty differences to heart of the issue to find out what our true challenges are."

"The whole process was wonderful" said director Waggoner. "By authentic listening to one another and thus clarifying what the real questions and concerns are we have discerned our deeper convergences. Sure, we had some disagreements, but we have come to some sort of shared perspective on things, and that's all that's needed to set our common life on a firm basis."

"The key," said archbishop Vercammen, "is transformed relationships. The indaba process allowed us to get beyond the reciprocal impatience which has so often complicated our ecumenical discussions -- arguments over issues like the nature of sexuality, the divinity of Christ, the existence of God, whether Satan is really such a bad guy -- and allowed us to open up more fully to each other. I know that I, for one, enjoyed joining bishop Robinson and Satan better when we stayed up all night watching the South Park movie and cuddling together beside the rack of vintage port."

"You see," said cardinal Danneels, "people really don't care about theology. That's just a dysfunctional way people have of creating defenses against those they do not understand. We have to move beyond these artificial boundaries imposed by our diverse forms and traditions -- we have to be ready to listen to what someone else is saying and not leap to hostile or suspicious conclusions, and that's what indaba let us do. It may not have given any final answers, but because of our common involvement in a process and method of engagement we have found that our relations with each other are transformed, and even our relations with the material world around us, and we no longer need agreement on trivialities of theology in order to engage in a continued search for the common mind, in constant active involvement in the life of other parts of the family and to recognise and accept each other's ministries in the conviction that we are ordaining men and women to one ministry in one Body. And I must say, I've found the people here around me much better listeners than pope Benedict!"

"We've come to recognize," explained archbishop Maxim, "as we listened to each other in indaba, that unity is itself affected by the urgency of the calls on our compassion and imagination; some sorts of division undoubtedly will seem a luxury in the face of certain challenges and recognized that it's okay that we can't easily pull [some] issues apart; and we certainly can't use [them] as an excuse for not addressing the other. Sure, Satan says that our goal in this world is to do whatever we want; antiquated Christian tradition has suggested that our goal in this world is to deny the self, to obey God and get to heaven; and most of us generally agree that, really, you just need to be basically a nice person... and then do whatever you want. Indaba has helped us realize that clarity about our calling in this world is no substitute for this unity we have found through engaging in a common, interminable process. As Archbishop Williams has said, "if we are not yet one as we hope and pray to be, perhaps it is because we have not yet gone deep enough." Through indaba, we have finally sunk deep enough."

"As a celebration of our new unity, community and communion," explained Moon, "we are issuing a statement descriptive of the totality of the engagement which [we] have undertaken. This will not, of course, be a resolution, declaration or affirmation. Attempts to reach such conclusions reflect the old methods, which necessarily fail to produce a consensus which absolutely everyone is willing to abide by or act upon. Indeed, that's the whole problem with a substance-oriented approach to conflict resolution, for invariably, if there is any disagreement, those whose positions aren't completely endorsed will not have confiden[ce] that they haven't been sidelined or silenced. Instead, by issuing a final statement which simply describes our conversations -- and by ensuring that everyone gets a minute or two to speak in each conversation -- we can guarantee that everyone's voice has a chance of being heard and that the final report (which merely states that the conversations occurred and describes them) is thus an outcome... that the overwhelming majority felt they had shaped for themselves. This is the glory of replacing substance with process."

Bishop Robinson (winking at friends in the audience, and posing for the photographers) was, for once, silent -- being too busy finishing off a bottle of 80 year old port and smoking a cigarette.

"Archbishop Williams and I are, of course, delighted with this result" said Top Kat Schori, concluding the indaba group's statements to the press. "We have represented here members from the whole spectrum of the Christian tradition -- Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Nondenominational, Apostate, Wacky/Cultist and Satanic. We have already been in touch with many other jurisdictions, and I confidently expect that we will soon have over 70% of the world's various jurisdictions represented. Of course, some might complain that those 70% represent only about 5% of the world's "Christians", but that's old-style thinking again. What matters -- and what we count -- are institutional structures (and their associated endowments), not believers."

In a Q & A session after the indaba members read their statements, Williams said that, given the success of this meeting, he and Canon Kearon are already planning another "high-level" indaba for next year, to address further ecumenical issues. "We've already been in contact with the Dalai Lama, Ayatollah Sistani, Philip Carr-Gomm (Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids), Peter Gilmore (High Priest of the Church of Satan) and leaders of other organizations. Within a few years, we hope to get absolutely everyone on board having ongoing indaba conversations, which will, by that very fact, mean we have created one unified religion."

Williams has already appointed Episcopal bishop Swing, founder of the United Religions Initiative, as his chief assistant in the project. In an unfortunate early set-back for the new effort, however, the University of Kent has announced that future indaba groups will not be allowed into the university wine cellars. "That's okay" said bishop Swing in response "we plan to hold future indaba meetings somewhere like the Bahamas -- somewhere more attractive and with a better night life. Oh, and working air-conditioners."