Thursday, 5 June 2008

Fantasy Arrangements

There is something of the fantasy land about Fulcrum, that somehow it stands in the centre of the Anglican Communion, and can even "reshape" it. It has plans, diagrams, arrangements, plots (the picture type, not the political) and then has these ideas where the grand scheme is going to be introduced.

You read the latest big scheme and wonder where reality is to be found. Analytically, Graham Kings in his speech to Fulcrum in the North (Why does it end with Amen? Was it a sermon?) is keeping with his four part quadrant, but he fiddles with it so that now there are Federal Conservatives and Non-Canterbury Federal Conservatives, meaning GAFCON. I don't know why he does not use the word confederal, or an even better word of autocephalous, which is theological and draws from Eastern arrangements. Federal does imply a strong centre: in government, sovereignty is at the centre. Confederal would be more accurate, as in Anglicanism the centres are with the Churches. Federal is rather close to Communion.

Well all that quadrant presentation is analysed observation, which is fine, but then there is this sudden fantasy of a) decisions taken at Lambeth 2008 and b) rearrangement of world Anglicanism. He says:

The focus of the conference is on 'The Bishop in Mission' but, since mission and Church interweave so closely, these two subjects, the Covenant and the future shape of the Communion, will be studied in depth by designated groups throughout the conference, will be discussed in plenary sessions and some decisions will be made.

Sorry, when I last looked at this there were to be no resolutions. The indaba groups are to be like half-indaba groups. If something emerges, it will be with some committee or the like, or perhaps the afterthoughts of the Archbishop himself. No one present and participating will own any decisions - if there are resolutions and decisions, then the structure of the agenda will have been overturned in a sort of internal revolution. It is about Better Bishops, all facing each other and being "incarnate" by presence. Lambeth is not going to be legislative.

Now, one reason why the St Andrew's Draft of the Covenant has been regarded by some as a watering down of the Nassau Draft is because it leaves things more alone, with any kind of disciplinary method put in an uncertain appendix. There was quite an objection among the Churches to all these Primates meeting and deciding things like some Curia.

So what sort of fantasy is this? Graham Kings is making grand proposals on these lines:

  • One Primate from each continent (six) being a Coordinating Primate
  • Continental Councils' with the Coordinating Primate as President of each one
  • Six Coordinating Primates; the Coordinating Primates Group, would serve as the Standing Committee of both the Primates' Meeting and of the Anglican Council
  • Continental Anglican Communion Offices
  • The Anglican Council would be made up of representatives of the six Continental Councils, and include the Coordinating Primates, together with the bishops, clergy and lay people who would be elected by the Continental Councils
  • The Primates' Meeting with the Coordinating Primates Group acting as its Standing Committee
  • The Lambeth Conference, for all bishops of the Anglican Communion
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury, who would be likely to be elected the Coordinating Primate for Europe

It's just a flight of fantasy of course. It's like if something was designed from scratch, and reminds me of Esperanto to be contrasted with a language that has evolved. It, furthermore, is all bureaucracy and centralisation, and rather different from Communion. Communion is not about structures but mutual recognition, and informal as well as a few formal patterns of getting together especially regarding worship and ministry.

What is likely coming is something like an organising core group (as in Religious Trotskyism), maybe an Instrument or two, some statements (like a restrictive Covenant), international oversights by bishops, extracting congregations and leaders, and a movement towards an international Anglican Church as a way of reordering the Anglican Communion - causing division within GAFCON, within the Global South and between this and the rest of Anglicanism. With defensive moves put in place, the rest of Anglicanism will be the Churches that commune together loosely across the North and parts of the Global South. The move to Canterbury centralism will be checked, because the division caused by GAFCON will allow the rest to form in the manner of the responses made so far to the Covenant process - that it can be no more than a definition of the diverse structures that are Anglican.

All this Fulcrum proposed bureaucracy is a fantasy of a grouping of Evangelicals soon to be forced to look one way or another. Unless, that is, it will add more splintering.

Perhaps the speech ended with Amen because it was a prayer.

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