Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lambeth Caption Contest 6


please post your own suggested captions!

Windsor Continuation Grope, part 3 - more of the same

Once again, the liberal press is reporting rumors to us about what's going to be coming up at Lambeth:
Liberals will be warned that they face being expelled from the heart of Anglicanism unless they respect the ban, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
This is the third and last installment of the dreaded Windsor Continuation Group, which we've mentioned before.

Here's a reminder of its mission; it was commissioned
to work on the unanswered questions arising from the inconclusive evaluation of the primates to New Orleans and to take certain issues forward to Lambeth. This will feed in to the discussions at Lambeth about Anglican identity and the Covenant process;... it will also have to consider whether in the present circumstances it is possible for provinces or individual bishops at odds with the expressed mind of the Communion to participate fully in representative Communion agencies, including ecumenical bodies... it will thus also be bound to consider the exact status of bishops ordained by one province for ministry in another.
Not nearly as scary when you see what it's actually doing, is it -- it's yet another Anglican committee commissioned to examine the status quo.

And here's what it's apparently going to be telling the bishops at Lambeth in two days:
Until a consensus is reached, the American and Canadian churches must refrain from consecrating more homosexual bishops and carrying out blessing services for same-sex couples, the paper says. If they do not, they will face being pushed to the margins of the communion and find themselves excluded from the councils that are central to the governance of the Church. The African churches, which oppose having practising homosexuals in the clergy, will be told that they must stop intervening in the affairs of other churches as their actions are deepening the rift.
Sound familiar? It should. The Windsor Continuation Group is, after nearly four years of deep study and reflection, suggesting that everybody really ought to do what the Windsor Report said they should do in the first place. (I'm glad we had yet another committee, and more time and money spent, to bring us such a stunning insight.) And I'm sure PEcUSA and Canada will assure us, yet again, that they are complying... and the ABC will set up yet another commission to assure us that, yes, they are indeed complying.

And the penalty if they don't comply -- or, I should say, if something is actually done about their non-compliance for a change? Why... wait for it ... they might not get invited back to Lambeth in 10 years! The horror!

A little correction for the Telegraph's reporter though: Lambeth (and other international Anglican committees) are not "councils that are central to the governance of the Church". Haven't you been paying any attention? Why, just this week, Williams reminded everyone that
The Conference has never been a lawmaking body in the strict sense and it wasn't designed to be one: every local Anglican province around the world has its own independent system of church law and there is no supreme court.
These aren't councils central to the governance of each jurisdiction -- each jurisdiction can do whatever the smeg it wants, without reference to these "central" councils and conferences. Heck, in the case of PEcUSA, they've spent over 30 years doing whatever the smeg they want without reference to their own councils and canons! So it's not like there's any substance to this threatened penalty.

Anyway, come on now, how serious could this threat really be? I mean, this decade's Lambeth already represents only about one-third of the practicing "Lambeth-recognized" Anglicans in the world. (Some estimates suggest only about 11% of such Anglicans are represented there.) And the American and Canadian bishops (from their parishoner-thin top-heavy jurisdictions) -- though representing only about 2% of the world's practicing "Lambeth" Anglicans -- make up over 25% of the attendees. Stop inviting them, and the next Lambeth not only won't represent a majority of such Anglicans, it won't even have a majority of the Lambeth-recognized bishops at it either!

Actually, come to think of it, that would be a great way for Williams (or whomever) to achieve his much-desired "consensus" without requiring a central authority, any enforceable norms, or any coercive or punitive measures... just don't invite anyone else next time! Have a Lambeth Conference which consists of only the ABC, hold all the meetings, convene all the indabas, and pass all the resolutions you want... and you're still guaranteed a 100% consensus. Heck, he could hold it in his own living room and keep the thing from going 4 million dollars into debt again!

But, to return to the subject in hand -- just as these continued rumors about a restrictive Anglican Covenant, or a dreadful Anglican "Inquisition" or a draconian "Anglican Code of Law" run completely contrary to the actual facts as we currently know them, so too does this hyperventilating over the Windsor Continuation Group's upcoming report. Which, apparently, will consist of it saying "gee, it's been nearly four years now, we really ought to start to listen to the Windsor Report for a change... hello?.... guys?.... hello?.... can anyone hear me?.... hello?"

All this will, of course, accomplish no more than it did last time -- i.e. nothing at all. And, face it, even if something were to be implemented and enforced, the "penalty" for continuing to ignore the suggestions amounts to, basically, nothing. Nothing, that is, except for giving everyone a chance to reassure everyone back home that something is being accomplished. "See, we're making progress. Stop worrying and keep sending in the money!"

And, of course, all these people, who trust it when their bishops promise something is being done, will doubtless be stunned and shocked and hurt yet again, when after another four years of more vague talking, ignored resolutions, and blatantly dishonest claims of compliance... nothing continues to happen.

But sure, in the meantime, issue the Windor Report all over again. Go on. It will work this time. Really. I promise.

Update (7/28): And here it is, in their own words
We observe here that there have been calls for moratoria with regard to blessings of same sex relationships, consecration of non-celibate homosexuals and the extra-jurisdictional interventions. And we renew these calls.
Come on Charlie Brown, I'll hold it in place this time. Really I will.

Yet more Anglican Windowdressed Nothings (YAWN)

The buzz about the dreaded "Anglican Inquisition" continues. The terrible specter of a "Fifth Element" of the Communion. Fear and trembling over an body to enforce normative doctrine. Speculation that 'Berlin Walls' will be going up inside the communion.

Come on people; doesn't anyone CHECK THE FACTS around here?!

First off, what we are dealing with here is the Anglican Communion's "Legal Advisers Network". They were set up in 2002 -- before the current crisis (okay, the current phase of the ongoing decades-long crisis) -- in order
to produce a statement of the principles of canon law common to the churches, and to examine shared problems and possible solutions.
This mission is based on the notion that (as was said in 2002)
  • there are principles of canon law common to the Churches within the Anglican Communion
  • their existence can be factually established
  • each Anglican Province or Church contributes through its own legal system to the principles of canon law common within the Anglican Communion
  • these principles have a strong persuasive authority and are fundamental to the self-understanding of each of the Churches in the Communion
  • these principles have a living force, and contain in themselves the possibility for further development
  • and the existence of these principles both demonstrates unity and promotes unity within the Anglican Communion
They were charged to develop a document simply to describe these existing principles -- and now, after nearly 6 years of work, they have produced a first draft, which they have circulated at Lambeth.

And in response to the reporters' questions, which continue to be based on unresearched misconceptions, poor canon lawyer Canon Lawyer John Rees (that's the correct spelling of his name, judging from the LAN's website, which others are reporting incorrectly as "Reece") had to keep emphasizing that this draft is, in addition to being only a draft, merely descriptive:
  • These are principles of law we have deduced but you cannot just read it off if you are involved in litigation.
  • It is not, then, prescriptive or enforceable. We are not saying this is how the law should be we are saying this is how the law generally is.
  • A ‘principle of canon law’... is induced from the similarities of the legal systems of churches.
  • Q: Are the churches going to be encouraged to bring their own canon law into conformity with this book?
    : As I said in the beginning, this is not prescriptive. You are suggesting a prescriptive use. It is merely a descriptive use.
  • Q: The bishops would be asked to affirm the code of practice? Is it your mind that the provinces would make a promise to follow these principles?
    A: This is, again, a descriptive exercise.
  • what these principles are intended to do is that it is on one level an academic exercise
  • It is exploring what we can deduce about our life together as we look at the way the material presents law around the word. This is not the covenant... It will be illustrative of some of the material that will be encapsulated in other ways in the covenant but the covenant process and this one are two distinct processes.
  • Yes I speak about this having “persuasive authority” which is a legal concept. And very often you would do that when something is not written in a particular code or constitution. You must understand that the laws, the COE laws, are thick. The US TEC law is of a significant size. There are provinces where very little is written and you have bear bones. Part of this is to help provinces like that.

So can we PLEASE try to get some perspective about this DRAFT here?

This is NOT a code of canon law, but an academic exercise.
This is NOT an enforceable system of law, but just a DESCRIPTION of EXISTING law.
This has NO LEGAL FORCE, save as one possible description of a reasonable "assumption" ('persuasive authority') where the actual laws are silent or ambiguous.
This does NOT REPLACE any jurisdiction's existing law.
This description is NOT "above" any jurisdictions' laws but BELOW -- those laws are not limited or based upon it, rather it is a description based upon them. And so as they change, it will change.

And this paper apparently isn't even going to be set up as any sort of normative description, but simply used as a way to inform other committees -- like the Covenant development committees -- as they work on developing their own statements and recommendations. Maybe those subsequent committees might decide to show some teeth or spine by picking parts of this academic description to be enforced (don't hold your breath for that one though!), but that's not what we have here.

And that's not what we are supposed to have here. No one should go blaming the LAN itself for this. They're doing exactly what they were asked to do, and it sounds like a tremendous amount of work... and I can't help but sympathize with Rev. Rees' frustration with all the reporters and commentators who just don't get it... and continue not to get it. This is not supposed to be a "Code of Canon Law". Never was.

So what we have here s a "Code of Canon Law" that is neither a code nor canonical nor law.

I guess -- given that we have an "Anglican Communion" that is neither Anglican nor a Communion; a Conference designed (at significant expense) to produce a statement announcing that everyone agreed a Conference had happened; and the on-going development of a Covenant which won't be a Covenant (but just a voluntary non-binding association) -- that having a "Code of Canon Law" that isn't a code and isn't law actually makes perfect Anglican sense.

Nothing to get excited about here though, regardless of what the "INQUISITION"-hollering anti-catholics would have you believe. Move along, folks... nothing to see here... move along.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Important voices being ignored...

In all the media frenzy over Lambeth, I have yet to hear anyone address what I think is among the most pressing questions raised by the Conference...
Rabbit outside the Templeman Library, University of KentRabbit outside the Templeman Library, University of Kent
Rabbits examining an ACNS photographerRabbits examining an ACNS photographer
... what do all the rabbits think about this invasion of foreign bishops into their natural habitat?

And if rabbit has been on the menu (you know, like in those fancy banquets they have after doing an anti-poverty & hunger march), some seriously punitive measures may have to be arranged, without regard for nationality, creed, or sexual orientation.

If anyone at Lambeth is reading this, PLEASE let us know... what do the rabbits think?!!

Listening -- Episcopal Style

Back before Lambeth started, I examined the stages of the indaba process, including the observation:
1. Meet in indaba groups for conversation and "listening".
lis·ten (lĭs'ən) intr.v.
a. Conservative - attending to another point of view in an effort to understand
b. Liberal - outward passivity during a period of time in which you think about what to say next, ignoring any noise which might distract you.
Well, it seems that was spot on.

Remember those indaba groups -- how they're supposed to be about listening to other perspectives, to aid in coming to a better understanding and achieving an informed consensus? Seems the Americans have already decided what that consensus is, even before arriving. Observers at Lambeth report the following from a press conference:
Q: How is your indaba group?
A:“Well, the funny thing is,” began one bishop, “The Americans here have this cheat sheet that they use in our group. It has statements on it that justify their decisions in the last two conventions that led to the consecration of Gene Robinson and same-sex marriage. It is a prioritized list of talking points and the one in our group reads off this thing every day.”
So much for "unity in diversity"... in PEcUSA we don't have diversity. Or, where we do, we're crushing, inhibiting, deposing and suing it. And not only do we enforce the party line, we give you a memo to read off so you can inflict it on others in a coordinated attack! Gotta keep everyone on message. All the more effective when your party (representing perhaps 2% of the world's Lambeth-recognized Anglicans, and dropping) comprises 25% of the attendees.

I'm not making this stuff up. I swear. Here's a link to a copy of the "cheat sheet" itself. The attached memo says:
Enclosed you will find two sample narratives that were initiated during our March meeting 2008 session with Macky Alston of Auburn Seminary. The suggestions made by the House of Bishops were collected, and Bishops Ed Little, Michael Curry, Neil Alexander, Mike Smith, Cate Waynick, and I [Clay Matthews] worked with Neva Rae Fox to create the two narratives that you will find in this section.
The idea is that you have a "core message" which has three "supporting ideas", each of which has three "supporting points". This way, all your points underline one of three ideas which, in turn, communicate the core message.

The PEcUSA memo gives two "core messages":
1. At the Lambeth Conference, the bishops of the Anglican Communion renew our deep unity in Christ.
2. When Anglicans work together through the power of the Holy Spirit, we change the world.
Sounds well and good... until you look at the details. Then you find (as the ACI's Rev. Turner points out) that
The TEC memo is in fact proposing a post modern, de-centered church joined not by mutual recognition of belief and practice but by allegiance to a common mission.... The implication is that the mission of the church has nothing to do with the matters that now so divide the Communion—that we can do mission while in fundamental disagreement about the content of the Christian gospel... Those of us who look to our bishops to speak truthfully about our real circumstances can only hope and pray that the incoherence of what TEC is proposing will be pointed out in no uncertain terms.

One example of that incoherence is the talking-points' inclusion, yet again, of this typical PEcUSA (I'm sorry, there's no other word for it) crap about "reconciliation". This has been the going buzz-word in Shorian circles for years now, despite the fact that it is used in complete contradiction to what Scripture means by the term. But I've already analyzed that bankrupt theology here.

I'm sure more blogs and news sources will run various examinations of this PEcUSA memo. For my purposes, I'd like to do something a little different, by taking a look back at those two "talking points". Do they sound at all familiar? They should. Here's what the ABC said at the opening of the Conference:
The Conference this year has two key points of focus: strengthening the sense of a shared Anglican identity among the bishops from around the world, and helping to equip bishops for the role they increasingly have as leaders in mission.
This got me wondering... just who beside the Episcopal bishops may be using these talking points? We certainly heard about "unity in diversity" in Lambeth's opening sermon.

So, as a case study, I looked back over Williams' presidential address and compared it to the first talking point in PEcUSA's set "consensus". Here's what the PEcUSA memo says, and here are comments by the ABC:

Core Message: At the Lambeth Conference, the bishops of the Anglican Communion renew our deep unity in Christ.
Idea One:A Church that celebrates both unity and diversity.
Supporting points:
  1. God made a diverse creation which reveals many gifts but the same Spirit.
  2. Jesus calls a diverse community into being and sent them in witness.
    • we have it in us to be a Church that can manage to respond generously and flexibly to diverse cultural situations
  3. St. Paul called a diverse church to unity in Christ.
    • How do we genuinely think together about diverse local challenges? If we can find ways of answering this, we shall have discovered an Anglicanism... in belonging to a fellowship that is more than local. The entire Church is present in every local church assembled around the Lord's table. Yet the local church alone is never the entire Church. We are called to see this... as an invitation to be more and more lovingly engaged with each other.
Idea Two: The Anglican Communion is a community of faith, bound together through baptism in Jesus Christ.
Supporting points:
  1. The Anglican Communion is a network of relationships across cultural, political and economic boundaries.
    • God works through the specifics of the community that is called in Christ's name -- the Church. And the Church is known in diverse forms and traditions.
  2. Baptism in Christ demands that we always welcome each other in our journey in faith.
    • That's why a Covenant should not be thought of as a means for excluding the difficult or rebellious but as an intensification... of relations that already exist. And those who in conscience could not make those intensified commitments are not thereby shut off from all fellowship.
    • Bear in mind that in this Conference we are committed to common prayer and mutual care so that the hard encounters can be endured and made fruitful.
  3. Tell a story to illustrate.
Idea Three: The reconciling work of Christ is at the heart of our common life.
Supporting Points:
  1. In Christ, we seek justice, love mercy, heal creation, and end poverty. And this is hard work.
    • If our efforts at finding greater coherence for our Communion don't result in more transforming love for the needy, in greater awareness and compassion for those whose humanity is abused or denied, then this coherence is a hollow, self-serving thing.
    • we seek for clarity about what we must do in a suffering world because we are surely at one in knowing what the Incarnate Lord requires of us -- and so at one in acknowledging his supreme and divine authority.
    • all those existing bonds are already being richly used by God for the service of his world.
    • Jesus did not call us to agree but to love as he loves. And this is hard work.
      • The indaba process is meant to clarify what the real questions and concerns are, so that everyone comes to have some sort of shared perspective on things, even if they don't yet agree.
      • It means giving attendance at these groups an absolute priority during our time together. It means being willing to contribute, to share what's on your mind and heart. It means being ready to listen to what someone else is saying and not leap to hostile or suspicious conclusions.
      • Remember that learning is just that -- not necessarily agreeing, but making sure that you have done all that is humanly possible in order to understand.
    • Tell a story to illustrate.

    Now, I don't mean by this to suggest that the ABC is working off that same PEcUSA "talking points" memo. Maybe he is; maybe he isn't. Maybe PEcUSA got the themes ahead of time from the conference planners; maybe they took suggestions from them. Maybe they're both drawing on a common source. Maybe it is a bizarre coincidence. But, whatever the cause, there's obviously a significant congruence.

    Which highlights why there's one passage of Rev. Turner's analysis with which I disagree. For he suggests that the existence of this memo -- the arrival at Lambeth by PEcUSA bishops not prepared to listen or change their minds, but to demand that others do -- means that it
    signals a hardened position on the part of TEC’s Episcopal leadership that runs counter to the spirit the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked to guide the bishops in their deliberations—a spirit of mutual subjection in Christ that is open to correction.
    Certainly there is no -- and never has been -- attitude of "mutual subjection in Christ" or any "open[ness] to correction" among PEcUSA's heretical and apostate leadership and bishops. But I don't think this represents "counter to the spirit the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked to guide the bishops."

    For I think the ABC is on the same page as PEcUSA's apostates -- he's simply subtler about it. (And not so foolish as to openly bring such a memo to indaba groups). For the spirit he has called for is not one of theological or ecclesiological agreement... but one of "mutual listening" and "focus on the material world" and "unity in process" and so forth. And, because this means you get to be an "official Anglican" without actually having to believe in Scriptural, Creedal Christianity or give up heretical practices and beliefs... PEcUSA is right on board with him on that one.

    And if you take a look at the majority of the majority of the "self-select sessions" being offered at Lambeth (click on the "bishops" section on a day, and then on the "self-select" item most days offer) you'll suspect that at least some of Lambeth's designers and planners had these same notions in mind as well.

    Leaving one to wonder if, perhaps, the ABC and his much-touted indaba groups haven't been designed to distract and deflect, as much as possible, the Conference's time, attention, work and actions from focusing on the the genuinely pressing theological and ecclesiological issues and crisis every bit as much as the PEcUSA memo is designed to aid those bishops in accomplishing that same distraction and deflection in the indaba groups themselves.

    Lambeth Caption Contest 5

    Photograph: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

    Reducing emissions... one bishop at a time.

    please post your own suggested captions!

    Windsor Continuation Grope - update

    Anglican Mainstream just published the document to which RG alluded (and whose selections I quoted in the previous message). Nothing I said there seems to be changed by this new documentation (quite the contrary!), so, let me just highlight a few points.

    First, it's even clearer that the WCG sees itself working hand-in-glove with the Covenant Process. (I've put some initial comments up on that Covenant notion already).
    The Covenant proposals are an important response to these issues. It is, therefore, crucially important that all Provinces engage seriously with the proposed Covenant. If the questions we have identified above are to be addressed they can be resolved most obviously by the implementation of the Covenant.
    Second, it continues to see itself within the framework of the existing Instruments and just wants to clarify them. (Not reject or abandon them, as Williams has accused GAFCon of doing).
    The instruments of communion, rethought and strengthened alongside the Lambeth Quadrilateral, will help us to regain a sense of Anglican identity and unity and thus recognise Church in one another.
    It commends other on-going and existing committees as well, noting (among others) that "the Listening Process and conversation on issues of sexuality needs to continue."

    All it says about this "Anglican Inquisition" is that
    the Common Principles of Canon Law Project (Anglican Communion Legal Advisers Network) gives a sense of the integrity of Anglicanism and we commend the suggestion for the setting up of an Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission.

    In other words, this non-binding committee which will eventually recommend something to ++Williams has circulated a position paper for discussion in which it comments that it likes the suggestion of a different committee. That committee, set up in 2002 by the ACC -- in other words before VGR's consecration -- was based on the notion that
    there are principles of canon law common to the churches within the Anglican Communion; their existence can be factually established; each province or church contributes through its own legal system to the principles of canon law common within the Communion; these principles have a strong persuasive authority and are fundamental to the self-understanding of each of the churches of the Communion
    and that
    shared principles of canon law may be understood to constitute a fifth 'instrument of unity'…to provide a basic framework to sustain the minimal conditions which allow the Churches of the Communion to live together in harmony and unity.
    Which means, these are not new principles of law but existing principles, already shared and functioning as an implicit "fifth instrument" of unity.

    The Legal Advisors Network -- to remind you, that's the other committee that issued a suggestion which the WCG committee has endorsed, that suggestion being to set up yet another committee, this "Faith and Order Commission" -- was charged merely to articulate these existing common norms:
    On the primates' recommendation, the Anglican Consultative Council (Hong Kong, September 2002) approved the establishment of the Anglican Communion Legal Advisers' Network “to produce a statement of the principles of canon law common to the churches, and to examine shared problems and possible solutions."
    As far as I can tell from their website, to date this group has managed only to issue a draft report on what they believe those "common principles" to be.

    Somehow, I don't think there's any pressing emergence of a Spanish Inquisition to be worried about.

    So... no Inquisition today. Inquisition tomorrow.

    There's always an inquisition tomorrow.

    A question for the GAFCon primates and the CCP

    I'm confused.

    I mean, I get it that you want to have an alternate North American jurisdiction and all that. And I get it that you don't intend to break communion with the Anglican Communion as such. ("Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion").

    But in the Declaration of Jerusalem you say:
    We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed.
    And you count PEcUSA among these churches, for you speak of:
    the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10).
    Which is why you say:
    We recognise the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread.
    ... and why you want the CCP to form the basis of a new jurisdiction. Okay so far.

    But now we read that the CCP has requested that +Duncan be made a primate of the new jurisdiction:
    The intention of the CCP Executive Committee is to petition the Primates Council for recognition of the CCP as the North American Province of GAFCON on the basis of the Common Cause Partnership Articles, Theological Statement, and Covenant Declaration, and to ask that the CCP Moderator be seated in the Primates Council.
    Which has been explained thusly:
    What Common Cause is doing is asking the GAFCON primates council to recognize us as having similar status to the other provinces (Uganda, Nigeria, etc) that participate within the movement. This is clearly very meaningful as we relate to that portion of the Anglican Communion that is part of GAFCON. We recognize, however, that it does not necessarily change our relationships with that part of the Communion that is not part of the GAFCON movement.

    Hang on a sec.

    At the moment, +Duncan is part of PEcUSA, a heterodox and apostate body you no longer recognize, and whose divisive actions (along with the Communion's failures of discipline) have created the crisis in the first place. And, by his formal membership in the H.O.B., he is canonically and institutionally in communion with, and in the same jurisdiction as, the rest of PEcUSA's bishops. It is in that capacity that he's currently at Lambeth. He may disagree with them theologically. He may not like them personally. He may not worship together with them. Everyone may be expect that, by the end of the year, he'll have disaffiliated or been thrown out. But, as things currently stand, HE'S STILL IN PEcUSA!

    Which means that you're nominating as primate a bishop who is a member of a body the jurisdiction and authority of whose bishops you reject. And you're also claiming that this proposal isn't changing your relationship with non-GAFCON parts of the Communion. (Do you include PEcUSA in those parts -- it is, after all, still officially part of the Anglican Communion you're also committed to continue being part of.)

    In other words, you're undermining your own fundamental statement of principles and order... starting to create precisely the same disjunction between "agreement" and "implementation" (even if in a smaller way) as we see with the Windsor report.

    Wouldn't it, at the very least, make sense to ensure that your candidate for primate is first qualified to represent the principles of GAFCon and the CCP (i.e. by ceasing to be a member of an apostate and condemned heterodox ecclesial body) before you nominate him to lead the alternative?!!!

    Windsor Continuation Grope

    Ruth Gledhill of the Times is alarmed:
    An Anglican version of the Roman Catholic church's "inquisition" is proposed today in a document seen by The Times. Bishops are urging the setting up of an Anglican Faith and Order Commission to give "guidance" on controversial issues such as same-sex blessings and gay ordinations.
    And, at first glance, this proposal seems to fly in the face of the sort of kumbaya indaba Covenant which appears to be Williams' ideal. Perhaps we should take a closer look.

    As always, let us start with what facts and quotes we can assemble. What is the Windsor Continuation Group? Well the WCG started when
    The Archbishop of Canterbury announced the formation of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), as proposed in his Advent Letter. The WCG will address outstanding questions arising from the Windsor Report and the various formal responses from provinces and instruments of the Anglican Communion.
    In that Advent Letter, he describes the mandate of this group more exactly:
    I also intend to convene a small group of primates and others, whose task will be, in close collaboration with the primates, the Joint Standing Committee, the Covenant Design Group and the Lambeth Conference Design Group, to work on the unanswered questions arising from the inconclusive evaluation of the primates to New Orleans and to take certain issues forward to Lambeth. This will feed in to the discussions at Lambeth about Anglican identity and the Covenant process; I suggest that it will also have to consider whether in the present circumstances it is possible for provinces or individual bishops at odds with the expressed mind of the Communion to participate fully in representative Communion agencies, including ecumenical bodies. Its responsibility will be to weigh current developments in the light of the clear recommendations of Windsor and of the subsequent statements from the ACC and the Primates' Meeting; it will thus also be bound to consider the exact status of bishops ordained by one province for ministry in another. At the moment, the question of 'who speaks for the Communion?' is surrounded by much unclarity and urgently needs resolution.

    Second, what are the various documents circulating at Lambeth which the Times has seen and which have R.G. in a tizzy? They appear to be these anticipated memos that "feed in to the discussions at Lambeth about Anglican identity and the Covenant process." But these are part of an on-going discussion, intended to stimulate conversation, not any official documents. The WCG themselves say, in the first of the two documents circulated so far,
    This document is NOT a report by the Windsor Continuation Group. It constitutes their preliminary observations on the life of the Communion and of the current state of responses to the recommendations of the Windsor Report, and offering some suggestions about the way forward. These observations are offered to the Lambeth Conference for conversation and testing.
    So if you were worried that the Inquisition is going to show up tomorrow, relax.

    Thirdly, what is the substance of these mere "discussion points" which the WCG is raising at Lambeth? Let's summarize the key points, as we know them, so far, from the first report and from the Times' report on the second and commentary thereon:
    • Much has been undertaken in the Communion through and in response to the Windsor Process, but as a Communion, we appear to remain at an impasse. There is inconsistency between what has been agreed, and what has been done.
    • Positions and arguments are becoming more extreme: not moving towards one another, relationships in the Communion continue to deteriorate; there is little sense of mutual accountability
    • There are growing patterns of Episcopal congregationalism throughout the communion at parochial, diocesan and provincial level. Parishes feel free to choose from whom they will accept Episcopal ministry; bishops feel free to make decisions of great controversy without reference to existing collegial structures. Primates make provision for Episcopal leadership in territories outside their own Province.
    • All this amounts to a diminishing sense of Communion and impoverishing our witness to Christ, placing huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion.
    • Such turmoil affects our relations with our ecumenical partners.
    • The Principles of Canon Law Project... which is being talked of by primates as the 'Fifth Instrument of Communion'. I am told it will not be so much a Catholic-style 'Code of Canon Law' as a 'blueprint' of Canon Law.
    • We commend the suggestion for the setting up of an Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission that could give guidance on the ecclesiological issues raised by our current crisis.
    • The document also describes as "crucially important" for future unity the Anglican Covenant, a new "unity pledge" that provinces will be asked to sign up to. The Covenant will be debated in detail next week.
    • My sources tell me the moderate conservatives are on side with this. One of the battles being fought, apparently, is over which way the TEC Primate Katharine Jefferts Schori will jump. The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams is desperate to have her on side, and on that hangs or falls the unity of the Anglican Communion.

    Sounds impressive, eh? Well, let's examine it...

    First, the WCG is not working on the Covenant. They do commend the inclusion of a "unity pledge" in the Covenant, but their own work is on this proposed "fifth instrument of Communion" which would articulate some norms. So the "commitment" to an ongoing unresolving indaba conversation which is Williams' Covenant is unaffected.

    Secondly, the WCG is not dealing with theological matters. Sure, they're aware that issues of theology and ethics -- and the authority of Scripture! -- have precipitated the crisis, but that's not what they're focusing on. Their concern is with structure and process -- which is what makes their proposal more of a code of "law" than a "catechism". That right there should put paid to any fears of a doctrinal Inquisition.

    This is not a "Confessional norm" they are proposing; nor are they proposing that they develop new norms of international law; nor are they proposing that debate be held upon whether they should develop new norms; nor are they proposing that debate be held upon whether the existing instruments should hold discussions about whether or not to develop new norms. Rather, they are proposing that the Communion discuss the possibility of setting up a new committee whose function would be to arrange Communion discussions to examine whether or not a new set of norms should be proposed and (if so) what norms. Oh, and this is just a talking point for discussion. Not a proposal. (That makes what the Times is reporting to be -- let's see if I can get this right -- a proposed discussion about whether they should discuss a proposal on proposing discussion of the creation of a new instrument to discuss the proposal of establishing some sort of normalized code (details to be discussed later) for intra-Communion relationships.)

    Further, look at the concerns they express: disjunction between agreement and implementation; deteriorating relationships; lack of mutual accountability; congregationalism; jurisdictional choices made without adequate international consultation; jurisdictional boundary crossing; confusion over who speaks "legitimately" for the Communion. The ABC added concerns over who might "participate fully in representative Communion agencies, including ecumenical bodies" and, more recently, says the discussion needs to be about "protocols and conventions by which we recognize one another."

    In other words, the concerns here are ALL ABOUT INSTITUTIONAL PROCESS AND RELATIONSHIP. We're not talking about doctrine, and we're not even talking about membership in the Anglican Communion. Heck, even if there were to be a "unity pledge" in the Covenent (if that ever even emerges) it will just be a pledge to commit to the ongoing conversation and process which represents membership in the Covenant "portion" of the Anglican Communion (perhaps carrying with it the perq of being eligible to participate on certain committees... woo-hoo!) but not membership in the Communion itself. (More here.)

    That whole fear of excommunication by an Inquisition is starting to look pretty unfounded, isn't it?

    Finally, given that all this is merely a proposal (or proposal about a discussion about a proposal... er, whatever), how can we expect the proposal to be modified in order to get it accepted before we even get to the stage of discussing setting something up? Remember, the WCG has no authority on its own -- its mandate is to stimulate discussion and make recommendations. It's the ABC (I gather) who decides how to propose part of those recommendations to the Communion, and so he'll have to adjust and spin it to get adequate support.

    As the current "talking points" stand, they seem to be alienating both traditionalists and liberals. For traditionalists, of course, it's too little too late -- that's why, with the failure of the Windsor process (thanks largely to Williams himself undermining it), they went to GAFCon. Don't expect them to come running now to a "Windsor Continuation" process! Gledhill suggests that some English "catholics" might object as well for fear that they'd have more protestant practices imposed upon them. Remember, in English circles, "catholic" often seems to be a liturgical rather than a theological description... and most genuinely "theological" anglocatholics are already looking for some new arrangement to escape the increasingly heretical and anti-catholic pro-episcopal-W"O" CoE anyway.

    And the liberals and apostates are, of course, terrified of anything which might possibly involve structures which might mean that doing or preaching any damned (quite literally) thing they want might limit their membership as "real" or "full" members of the Anglican Communion in some way. Anti-anglocatholic anti-apostolic succession anti-Scriptural authority pro-W"O" member of the English "Watch" group criticizes it with the typical bleets about listening and transformation and all the other pleasant-sounding buzzwords which are code for "a consensus to tolerate any damned belief or practice at all", saying:
    What is needed is the transformation of hearts and minds – a softening of hearts and a turning again to hearing from one another with a goal of consensus, without the pressure of intention of a set form of words that will have disciplinary and legal weight.
    Jim Naughton, Chane's spokesman, says
    it's troubling, but perhaps unsurprising to see a group composed almost exclusively of bishops, and advised by Anglican Communion Office bureaucrats recommending new structures for the Communion that strengthen the role of bishops and bureaucrats at the expense of clergy and lay people.
    To date, Times reports, only the "moderate conservatives" (by which I think they really mean the "moderate revisionists" of the ACI) are on board.

    Now, often if both ends of a spectrum dislike something, it's a sign that it's "properly" in the middle. But that's only true if the middle is a good place to be... and if there are lots of people there! I mean, you could get the 2% in the "middle" to agree, but that's hardly a sweeping victory of moderate representation, now is it?

    This is probably why it's a big concern to get Dr. Schori to agree to the notion. After all, it's clear that those supporting a more GAFCon-like approach (you know, a Covenant about -- and accountability to -- substance rather than process), judging from attendence at Lambeth, represent about two-thirds of the Communion. So it's already got minority support in terms of numbers. And if PEcUSA doesn't sign up to this proposed new process of discussing relationships, that means that two-thirds of the money won't be there either. And we can't have a repeat of a bankrupt Lambeth Conference, now can we?

    This means that, whatever final form of the WCG's proposals are adopted for consideration (if any) -- regardless of how "traditionalist" some members of that committee itself might be -- they'll hvae to be watered down to the point where the majority of institutionalists and revisionists can get on board... which means, as with Williams' Covenant, it's going to have to be sure not to exclude anyone based on clear or enforceable doctrinal norms (beyond mere hand-waving at vague, variously-interpreted statements); going to have to be something without teeth, spines, or cahones... an amorphous invertebrate affiliation where the primary qualification for membership is simply agreeing to be a member.

    So I don't think folks need to worry that we're in danger of the Spanish Inquisition.

    At worst, just expect something with all the attitude -- and all the ineffectiveness -- of... THE BISHOP!

    (UPDATE -- follow-up, with the posting of the WCG's second memo -- posted HERE)

    Lambeth Caption Contest 4


    please post your own suggested captions!

    Lambeth 4 - The Archbishop's New Covenant (part 1)

    In the previous section I noted that ++Williams, who thinks Lambeth is so critical, outlined in his presidential address two key ways in which he thinks the crisis must be addressed. The first, discussed in that last part, was indaba groups -- which give us a hint about what Williams is actually working towards. (But more on that in a subsequent installment). The second key element he mentioned was the creating of an Anglican Covenant. In this section, I will examine why Williams thinks a Covenant is so important and what he hope it will achieve... in the next I'll examine some elements of the current draft Covenant itself.

    This notion of an Anglican Covenant seems crucial to Williams -- he spent most of the second half of his address talking about it (after having spent the first half trying to explain why indaba groups wouldn't be a waste of time).
    It's my conviction that the option to which we are being led is one whose keywords are of council and covenant. It is the vision of an Anglicanism whose diversity is limited not by centralised control but by consent... And I want to say very clearly that the case for an Anglican Covenant is essentially about what we need in order to give this vision some clearer definition.

    Nor is Williams the only one pinning his hopes on a Covenant as the way forward. The folks at the ACI (who recently brought you the CPP proposal as a fancy way of doing nothing new at all with a great deal of fanfare) have been working hard on the Covenant idea. They say:
    there are no alternatives but a covenant if the Communion is not to divide, or perhaps one should say, remain divided and broken.... At present the status quo is not an Anglican Communion, but a broken Anglican family. The covenant could be the means for restoring order and allowing an Anglican Communion to be extended, and set on a footing that is more secure than the one which allowed the present breakdown such wide scope for emergence.
    The current structures of relationship and decision-making within the Communion have failed to maintain the unity of witness that Anglicans have generally enjoyed until the more recent emergence of a fully global Communion... the structures themselves are proving incapable of carrying the trust and force of the Communion’s united purpose. No other means of addressing this incapacity have been suggested, short of allowing the Anglican Communion itself to dissolve.

    Now, in principle, a statement of mutually recognized norms to which all are held accountable is a good thing. Heck, that's what the Ecumenical Councils are -- or, in Anglican circles, were. Statements of basic and indisputable elements of Faith and Order that defined the essentials of Christian belief and practice. And, in recent decades, we've seen Anglican statements of basic beliefs (recapitulations and affirmations, not novelties) which also attempt a "covenant"-like definition of norms to which all are accountable. The two most noteworthy being the Affirmation of St. Loius, and it's younger (and substantially weaker) sister, the Declaration of Jerusalem.

    Yet apparently, these are not the kinds of "covenant" we're looking for. Williams condemns GAFCon's approach, saying:
    A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties... It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion. If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve. This challenge is one of the most significant focuses for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. One of its major stated aims is to restore and deepen confidence in our Anglican identity.
    Now, this seems strange to me -- as I mentioned before, Williams has shown no hesitation in undermining the council of primates and the whole Windsor process which was the attempt through the "existing structures of the Communion" to address the crisis. I can't help but think that it isn't so much the undermining of existing structures that bothers him as the fact that someone else is doing it!

    Over at the ACI, some are even more openly critical of GAFCon and its "form" of Covenant -- going so far as to condemn their behavior and beliefs as just as faithless and un-Christian as PEcUSA's! (No, I'm not making that up).
    These conclusions point fairly inexorably to the sad conclusion that the GAFCON movement, although it may talk about its commitment to the Communion and its reform and may appear to have given support to the established Windsor and covenant processes, seems determined to pursue its own agenda on its own terms and to weaken and undermine the wider Communion if it believes that it will not get from it exactly what it wants. It thereby reveals that, in relation to our common life together as Anglicans, it is suffering from the same spiritual sickness as the North American churches have revealed in relation to Communion teaching on sexuality.

    What's so wrong with these existing models of "Covenants" -- the Affirmation of St. Loius or the Declaration of Jerusalem? Why are they denigrated or ignored? I mean, there must be something essentially wrong about these other approaches from Williams' perspective, right? Let's look again at his presidential address. Williams outlines 3 possible ways forward which believes are bad ones, ones not following the Covenant process:
    Some in our Communion would be content to see us become a loose federation... Some would like to see the Communion as simply a family of regional or national churches strictly demarcated from each other... Others again want to see a firmer and more consistent control of diversity, a more effective set of bodies to govern the local communities making up the Communion.
    Obviously, in this list, the more "confessional" approach of the Continuing Churches or GAFCon is the third one -- "a firmer and more consistent control of diversity." Apparently this is a BAD THING.


    Because apparently, for Williams, to attempt to exercise control over diversity would be un-Anglican. He actually suggests that to follow the path of laying down such norms would mean to cease to be Anglican. In a recent interview, asked about these issues, he said:
    Anglicanism, by its essence, is certainly plural and certainly diffuse. We have always talked about diffused authority as part of our model. If we did have a tight central model, we would cease to be the kind of Church we have always set out to be. So the issue — as I have been saying ad nauseam — is not about establishing a central commissariat, but about establishing mutual covenants of responsible, mutual protocols.
    There's that word again -- covenant. As opposed to any sort of central authority or loss of plurality. It seems, for Williams, that the problems with these other approaches is that they (like, on a greater scale, the Ecumenical Councils did) exclude people. Putting down norms of belief rather than of relationship.

    By contrast, "a Covenant should not be thought of as a means for excluding the difficult or rebellious." It should, instead, involve a
    deeper seriousness about how we consult each other -- consult in a way that allows others to feel they have been heard and taken seriously, and so in a way that can live with restraint and patience. And that is a hard lesson to learn, and one that still leaves open what is to happen if such consultation doesn't result in agreement about processes.
    (Note, it's not even agreement on substance at issue here... Williams seems to think the Covenant process is a process for trying to reach consensus on a process!) And this is why he keeps saying things like
    I am looking for consent not coercion but unless we have something we will be flying apart. We cannot just coexist there have to be protocols and convention by which we understand each other and cooperate. Can we find a consensual way to deal with this because no one has the authority to impose The AC is not a Church. That is a moot point We are not a federation nor are we the RC -- We are between that where we belong.

    The most fundamental fear here seems to be that there would be some sort of papal "central authority", be it theological, ecclesiological, or ethical. That a Covenant would threaten to make Anglicanism "becomes a confessional church in a way it never has been before." Even one of the few Lambeth panels on the Covenant (guess they had to make a little room for it amid all the "homosexual listening", environmentalism, financial management, &c... all of which outnumber discussions about the Covenant) foregrounds this concern
    Does the covenant actually mean a creeping centralisation and new ecclesiology for Anglicanism? The session will focus on Section Three of the St Andrew’s Draft ‘Our Unity and Common Life’.
    And this concern seems to be shared by the bishops at Lambeth -- remember, those who represent a whopping one-third of the Anglican world -- in their first discussion on the Covenant. (As expected, each speaker got a whole three minutes to present their own views and address the issues, and even that left many people out, so little time was allocated for the discussion.)
    One of the predominant themes from many (both TEC and others) was that we do not want a Covenant that can be used "juridically" to expel, discipline, or exclude.
    Clearly, it's essential to Williams, the ACI and others that the Covenant cannot have standards that exclude, norms that it can enforce, or authority to vet it members. It seems that they want a membership that is completely voluntary, that is non-binding, and that has no mandatory norms of faith or order.

    Thus, despite what you may imagine a Covenant would say -- er, well not "say" of course, since the Covenant can't say anything explicit... express politely... um, suggest?... not that there aren't other voices... which are just as important and correct... well, we don't believe in 'correct', that's exclusive... um, equally valid? affirmed? -- the American take on a Covenant (hardly surprising) is that a it must not exclude the homosexualist heresy and that the really terrible thing it needs to address -- what they think has actually torn the fabric of the Communion -- is the ministry of other Anglican groups in their bailiwick.
    The tone was set by the first speaker, a Bishop from TEC, who used his time to assert the need for the FULL acceptance of LGBTs by the Church... There was great anger expressed by a number of our Bishops over the incursions into their Dioceses by international jurisdictions. And there was a claim by one of them that, "Less than 7/10 of one percent of The Episcopal Church has defected" over "the issues".
    Wow, sounds like these fun-filled indaba groups discussing the Covenant are merely a collection of sound-bytes of people stating their well-known and oft-repeated positions. (I expect this is where the trained aardvark comes in to the picture.)

    In this vein, the archbishop doesn't merely keep insisting that the Covenant won't establish a papal, binding, or exclusive affiliation... but also that he doesn't intend to force even this process-oriented non-exclusive non-binding Covenant on anyone:
    There will undoubtedly, in our time together, be some tough questions about how far we really want to go in promising mutual listening and restraint for the sake of each other. That's why a Covenant should not be thought of as a means for excluding the difficult or rebellious but as an intensification -- for those who so choose -- of relations that already exist. And those who in conscience could not make those intensified commitments are not thereby shut off from all fellowship; it is just that they have chosen not to seek that kind of unity, for reasons that may be utterly serious and prayerful.
    In other words, the Covenant is the only way to keep Anglicans together... but if some Anglicans don't want a Covenant (or at least don't want Williams' Covenant) that's okay too, because not only will the Covenant not actually require anything of its members other than engaging in the process, it also won't be required of all members of the Communion.

    Provided, of course, they don't want the GAFCon one or (horror!) even discover the Continuum's Affirmation! I guess Williams means that the acceptable choices for membership in the Communion are his Covenant or no Covenant... but not anyone else's? After all, the ones he is most critical of are those who do not appreciate the deep bonds of unity and affection we already have in the Anglican communion. He insists that "all our existing bonds of friendship and fellowship are valuable and channels of grace" -- and are perfectly able to deal with the present crisis, "even if some want to give such bonds a more formal and demanding shape"... we don't need something new, we just need to "deepen" what we already have!

    So, let's see what we've got then.

    Anglicanism is facing a serious crisis, even Williams will admit that. And there are several options out there which threaten its future -- both increasing isolationism and greater centralization, "irreparable schism or forced assimilation" -- both equally bad. And a Covenant is urgently needed because
    the rival bids to give Anglicanism a new shape are too strong, and we need to have a vision that is at least as compelling and as theologically deep as any other in the discussion. Without this, trying to carry on as 'normal' will unquestionably drift towards one or other of the options I've outlined, without... a sense of the cost of each of them to what we value most in our heritage.
    And that heritage that will be lost is that which is really Anglican -- the Anglicanism which a greater centralization would abandon. So the Covenant is supposed to
    rall[y] people to this vision of a Catholic, reformed, and not centralised Church, which gives us the incentive, the impetus to get back on course with it all.
    And yet, this Covenant isn't to be forced on any one, and those who chose not to go along with it should still be included in the ongoing Anglican conversations and family in some way. Because, even if some (like those at GAFCon) don't sign up with the Covenant, the
    Anglican Communion will still continue in some form, albeit weakened. “The kind of fellowship we will have may be different, less immediate. That is hard. That is a loss, and there will always be a sense of loss and not feeling all right. But the reality is: we are where we are. We may be less obviously at one for a few years, but that doesn’t let us off the obligation to keep listening to each other."
    Or, as the ACI puts it in a more formal suggestion:
    It would not mean... that such a non-covenanting province could no longer be in a close relationship with other covenanting Communion provinces; but it would mean that such a relationship would now be a province-to-province decision.

    So to pull it all together:

    the Covenant is absolutely essential to prevent Anglicanism from ceasing to be Anglican, but it's a completely voluntary thing and relationships and conversations will continue unabated, even if somewhat "less obviously one", with those Anglicans who aren't part of the Covenant.

    It's supposed to provide a compelling and coherent vision as a viable alternative to the forces of disintegration and the even more evil forces of centralization... but that compelling and (cough cough) "coherent" vision is:
    the vision of an Anglicanism whose diversity is limited not by centralised control but by consent -- consent based on a serious common assessment of the implications of local change... an Anglicanism in which prayerful consultation is routine and accepted and understood as part of what is entailed in belonging to a fellowship that is more than local.... a Church that can manage to respond generously and flexibly to diverse cultural situations while holding fast to the knowledge that we also free from what can be the suffocating pressure of local demands and priorities.

    Hang on a second here. "Consent based on serious common assessment"... "prayerful consultation is routine"... "diverse cultural situations"... "transformed relationships"... "search for the common mind, in constant active involvement in the life of other parts of the family"... "consult in a way that allows others to feel they have been heard and taken seriously"...

    Is any of this ringing any bells for you?

    You got it...

    William's ideal of a Covenant is nothing but an Communion-wide INDABA GROUP!

    With all the problems and limitations and incoherence and futility of such an approach I pointed out in my previous post... plus the added complications and delays of doing it over long distances, in a piece-meal fashion, and with committees rather than individuals being the members of each indaba!

    It's all about process; all about unresolved conversations; all about everyone speaking and not reaching consensus. It has no power of enforcement, no mandatory membership, no norms... all it is is whatever people decide in conversation and process they want it to be, at least until they decide to change it for something else. In short, it provides no answers or vision... simply an "intensification" and formalization of a way of asking questions and looking non-judgementally at different perspectives in endless ecclesiastical navel-gazing.

    And THIS is what Williams and the ACI think is going to save Anglicanism?!!

    Let me read you a bed-time story.
    Many years ago, there was an Emperor, who was so excessively fond of new clothes, that he spent all his money in dress... Time passed merrily in the large town which was his capital; strangers arrived every day at the court. One day, two rogues, calling themselves weavers, made their appearance. They gave out that they knew how to weave stuffs of the most beautiful colors and elaborate patterns, the clothes manufactured from which should have the wonderful property of remaining invisible to everyone who was unfit for the office he held, or who was extraordinarily simple in character.

    "These must, indeed, be splendid clothes!" thought the Emperor... And he caused large sums of money to be given to both the weavers in order that they might begin their work directly. So the two pretended weavers set up two looms, and affected to work very busily, though in reality they did nothing at all...

    "I should like to know how the weavers are getting on with my cloth," said the Emperor to himself, after some little time had elapsed; he was, however, rather embarrassed, when he remembered that a simpleton, or one unfit for his office, would be unable to see the manufacture. To be sure, he thought he had nothing to risk in his own person; but yet, he would prefer sending somebody else to bring him intelligence about the weavers, and their work, before he troubled himself in the affair...

    "I will send my faithful old minister to the weavers," said the Emperor at last, after some deliberation, "he will be best able to see how the cloth looks; for he is a man of sense, and no one can be more suitable for his office than he is." So the faithful old minister went into the hall, where the knaves were working with all their might, at their empty looms.

    "What can be the meaning of this?" thought the old man, opening his eyes very wide. "I cannot discover the least bit of thread on the looms.... Is it possible that I am a simpleton? I have never thought so myself; and no one must know it now if I am so. Can it be, that I am unfit for my office? No, that must not be said either. I will never confess that I could not see the stuff." "Well, Sir Minister!" said one of the knaves, still pretending to work. "You do not say whether the stuff pleases you." "Oh, it is excellent!" replied the old minister, looking at the loom through his spectacles. "This pattern, and the colors, yes, I will tell the Emperor without delay, how very beautiful I think them"....

    [Soon] the whole city was talking of the splendid cloth which the Emperor had ordered to be woven at his own expense. And now the Emperor himself wished to see the costly manufacture, while it was still in the loom. "Is not the work absolutely magnificent?" said the two officers of the crown... "If your Majesty will only be pleased to look at it! What a splendid design! What glorious colors!" and at the same time they pointed to the empty frames; for they imagined that everyone else could see this exquisite piece of workmanship.

    "How is this?" said the Emperor to himself. "I can see nothing! This is indeed a terrible affair! Am I a simpleton, or am I unfit to be an Emperor? That would be the worst thing that could happen--Oh! the cloth is charming," said he, aloud. "It has my complete approbation." And he smiled most graciously, and looked closely at the empty looms; for on no account would he say that he could not see what two of the officers of his court had praised so much.

    All his retinue now strained their eyes, hoping to discover something on the looms, but they could see no more than the others; nevertheless, they all exclaimed, "Oh, how beautiful!" and advised his majesty to have some new clothes made from this splendid material, for the approaching procession. "Magnificent! Charming! Excellent!" resounded on all sides; and everyone was uncommonly gay....

    The Emperor was accordingly undressed, and the rogues pretended to array him in his new suit; the Emperor turning round, from side to side, before the looking glass. "How splendid his Majesty looks in his new clothes, and how well they fit!" everyone cried out. "What a design! What colors! These are indeed royal robes!"... So now the Emperor walked under his high canopy in the midst of the procession, through the streets of his capital; and all the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, "Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor's new clothes!"...

    "But the Emperor has nothing at all on!" said a little child. "Listen to the voice of innocence!" exclaimed his father; and what the child had said was whispered from one to another. "But he has nothing at all on!" at last cried out all the people. The Emperor was vexed, for he knew that the people were right; but he thought the procession must go on now! And the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Lambeth Caption Contest 3

    Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images


    please post your own suggested captions!

    Lambeth Caption Contest 2

    (photo from Guardian, UK)


    please post your own suggested captions!

    Lambeth Caption Contest 1

    (photo from G. Conger)


    please post your own suggested captions!

    The "Inside Strategy"

    Apparently bishop Howe is celebrating the existence and work of the ACI's CPP (or "Communion Partners Plan") -- the approach to which he now seems to be giving allegiance, having bailed on +Duncan and the CCP (or "Common Cause Plan"). I swear, is it a rule of Anglican organization creation that you have to pick a name that generates the most confusing possible acronyms?

    Anyway, Baby Blue is blogging, feeling greatly encouraged by it, that Howe reports:
    It was very clearly recognized that these two approaches are complimentary, CP is an "inside" strategy, and CC an "outside" strategy to attempt to maintain and further an orthodox witness and ministry in North America.
    Um... excuse me?!! And just how is this, I mean CPP... going to be an "inside" strategy to "further an orthodox witness and ministry in North America?!

    First off, the CPP is all about catering to those "within our dioceses and in congregations in other dioceses [who] seek to be assured of their connection to the Anglican Communion". In other words, it is inherently INSTITUTIONALIST. The only "way forward" that may be considered, for them, is one remaining inside PEcUSA. Not just the Anglican Communion, but PEcUSA.

    Even other alternative Anglican Communion solutions, like CANA or the AMiA (which are - unless you measure it by Lambeth invitations -- still fully constituent parts of national Anglican jurisdictions), are rejected... indeed, that's precisely why Howe bailed on the CCP -- er, sorry, CPP -- to switch to the CCP. No, hang on, wait, I mean the other way around. Anyway... as their own members say:
    We are also firmly committed to remain in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, respecting and honoring the proper authority of our Bishops and working in concert with them to strengthen our voice within the Church.
    This, of course, assumes that it is even possible to "maintain an orthodox witness and ministry" while remaining in communion and jurisdictional union with heretics and apostates. Anyone who uses the word "orthodox" in a theologically and historically meaningful way, rather than as just a catchy buzz-word, realizes how absurd that claim is.

    Indeed, I would argue that the very fact of remaining so unwaveringly in full communion and jurisdictional union within an organization which has committed itself to heresy and apostasy is, de facto, "capitulat[ion] to [an] agenda that runs contrary to the authority and traditional interpretation of Holy Scripture", despite what the ACIers would have you believe. Not to mention that it sets itself solidly against the CCP... -- er, CPP... er, the other one -- by insisting upon remaining members of the very organizations which even GAFCon has rejected as apostate and without authority (never mind the genuinely orthodox Anglicans of the Continuum).

    But leaving that issue of institutionalism and orthodoxy aside for now (on which I'm sure to say more eventually in some other post), lets take a look at just how this proposed plan will help ensure "orthodox witness and ministry". First, in itself it does nothing to change the apostate direction or official teachings of PEcUSA. Rather, it's just another DEPO (Delegated Pastoral Oversight) plan. It tries to work around that "oversight" issue by arguing that there's no oversight to be replaced:
    in contrast to the Episcopal Visitors notion mooted after New Orleans, the Partners idea required nothing from the ‘national church’ and did not envision requests for visitations as needing to pass through the Presiding Bishop. Indeed, it might have considered such an idea inappropriate. Similarly, ‘oversight’ was never envisaged in this plan as it is not something the Presiding Bishop has at present, and so is not something for which an ‘alternative’ could be granted. In recent times it has appeared that new understandings of the office of the Presiding Bishop are being (formally or informally) contemplated, including suggestions of metropolitan powers (archiepiscopal crosses and insignia; cathedral consecrations; dismissals of Standing Committees, and such like). This would be to introduce notions into the self-governing life of the Episcopal Church that are inappropriate and untrue to the self-understanding of this church.
    But other than objecting to Shori's new aping of "primatial" powers, the CPP does nothing to address those problems. And, in fact, the objection above is merely a position paper written by one of the ACI members, not an official statement of the CPP (CPP? yeah, that's right, CPP) signatories. (Indeed, I don't think all the signatories have even bothered to object to the illegal depositions and dismissals of Schoria Law alluded to above.)

    Instead, as far as I can tell, the CPP seems to be about nothing except merely inviting certain other Anglican bishops to come visit particular parishes from time to time. Presumably, this is how it intends to advance "orthodox witness and ministry"... it doesn't do anything about the heretics or apostates, it doesn't even cease to be in communion and fellowship with them, it just gives an alternative (or addition) to having the more notorious among them show up at your parish. That seems to be it: nothing but the already existing practice of inviting an extra-diocesean bishop to come make a visit.

    Nor does this visiting bishop have any power or authority to protect you from your diocesan bishop. He has no jurisdictional authority, and you still have to check with your diocesan before inviting the visitor. Indeed, since the CPP expressly doesn't challenge the authority of PEcUSA bishops, the local bishop still has all the rights and powers to say what "legitimate" Anglicans may or may not minister in his diocese, and to exercise his authority over his parishes to prevent them from receiving those of whom he does not approve. Oh, and of course this is all only at the sufferance of Donnette Schorlione, whose ringing endorsement of the plan consists in not having forbidden it yet.
    The Partners idea received a ‘no objection’ from the Presiding Bishop and in this sense, the appropriate limits of the office of Presiding Bishop were acknowledged.
    Oh, and it's still just a proposal.

    Williams has been consulted about this proposal, and apparently will endorse it, at least in principle, if Schori confirms that she's going to permit it. Or at least not expressly forbid it. Actually, I can't imagine she would forbid it -- after all, this whole CCP CPP arrangement accomplishes absolutely nothing except to make an organization with a confusing acronym devoted to implementing already existing policy. I mean, come on, how useless is that?

    Should it come as any surprise, then, that not much seems to divide these CPP bishops from the rest of the Episcopal mob? Fr. Hart on the AnglicanContinuum blog reports that:
    Bishop Howe voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services at the General Convention in 2000, and consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson at the 2003 General Convention. Stanton voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services in 2000, but he was very much against Robinson’s consecration in 2003. Jacobus voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services in 2000, and consented to Gene Robinson’s consecration in 2003. Little voted for both same sex blessings and Robinson’s consecration. Wolf also voted in favor of both. Adams also consented to Gene Robinson’s consecration. MacPherson also voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services, and consented to Robinson’s consecration.
    In other words, even if we ignore all the other issues of theology, communion, jurisdiction, etc, and look ONLY at the cause celebre of the homosexualist heresy, the CPP bishops have STILL failed to uphold an "orthodox" witness and ministry.

    What it comes down to, then, is that the ACI and the CPP propose nothing more than an empty sign which
    allows Episcopalians—Bishops, Dioceses, Parishes—a means of identification, a way of foregrounding Communion membership and wider Anglican belonging.
    Nothing to do with upholding standards of orthodox belief, nor of following the advice of the majority of the Anglican Communion, nor even of resisting the homosexualist heresies and other apostasies in PEcUSA. This is nothing but a gesture to "foreground Communion membership." It is, quite simply, a pat on the head for slightly-uncomfortable institutionalists so that they will remain in PEcUSA. And this is supposed to make any difference?

    Rev. Levenson -- defending the policy of staying in PEcUSA come hell or... well, more hell -- writes:
    what if -- what if those who have left in the last decade had stayed...continued to fight the tide of revisionism?
    Rev, I can tell you EXACTLY what would have happened... they would have made just as much difference as they did for the preceding two decades in which they didn't leave (and criticized the Continuuers who did) and attempted the inside strategy... absolutely no difference whatseover. And they, at least, were offering and attempting more than your mere novel acronym for confirming existing power structures and policies.

    Now, you probably thought, from this image I started with, that I was going to say that the "inside strategy" makes about as much sense as people in prison for life without parole claiming that they are staying in there as part of a pro-active campaign to assert their freedom and innocence. And that's true enough... and a good description of the "inside strategy" of the last two decades.

    But in the case of the CPP, we have something even more absurd. For what we have is a claim to be standing up for "orthodox witness and ministry" while doing absolutely nothing, save to re-affirm the continuing existence of some sort of affiliation with some sort of Anglican Communion. Those who are truly imprisoned by this CPP are any laity or clergy who will be fooled into thinking that their involvement with it will protect them from PEcUSA, stop the apostasy, or do anything to advance orthodoxy.

    Because, you see, the CPP is not an "inside alternative" to the same project being attempted "outside" by the CCP. These are not "moderate conservatives" (as Ruth Gledhill of the Times characterizes them). Rather, the CPP is an alternative to the radical revisionists who don't mind breaking from the Anglican Communion as they pursue their apostasies and heresies. The CPP are the "moderate revisionists". They (or at least many of them) don't object to the homosexualist or other heresies in PEcUSA...
    ...they just don't want to officially break with the Anglican Communion in the course of tolerating and implementing (and even advocating) those heresies.

    Well, bishop Howe may think this is a wonderful and exciting and praiseworthy goal and organization. And various observers may think so as well. Me? I think its worse than nothing, for it has the potential to deceive the unobservant into wasting time, effort and resources on yet more futile and ineffective gestures.

    It is, in short, just more of the same.