Thursday 20 December 2007

Reciprocal Staying Away?

One of the blogs that never ceases to amaze me for the sheer number of comments received is Father Jake Stops the World: The musings of an eccentric and sometimes heretical Episcopal priest.

I detect that his position has been hardening against Lambeth 2008 as he considers (and presumably reads comments back) the message of the Advent Letter and the way it treats The Episcopal Church.

On Tuesday December 18 he asked the question:
Is Lambeth a set up for TEC? Should our bishops attend as guests with no voice or vote?
He received one comment that TEC bishops should do, on a necessary calculating and principled stance that I had myself reckoned was right. James 1 wrote:
If we go to Lambeth, we may lose "big time' if an agenda is railroaded on the bishops. However, if we do not go, we are going to lose big time even without any railroading. we have to show up if for no other reason to tick off the opposition. but the real reason to go is to make a stand for what is right.
By the next day, Wednesday December 19, Father Jake, remembered how he responded to the passage of B033 at General Convention 2006, which he saw as joining in with the demands of bigotry: he stopped calling himself Anglican. He adds:
That remains my position today. I do not describe myself as an Anglican. In fact, if the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter is symbolic of what it means to be an Anglican today, I reject that designation even more emphatically...
He gets to the nub of the matter, in terms of the changes being pursued:
This loose affiliation of Churches formerly known as "the Anglican Communion," is becoming more structured, and certain segments, such as the Primates, are claiming more authority for themselves. In his recent letter, Dr. Williams, who is known to be very careful in his choice of words, referred to "the Anglican Church." Isn't it obvious what direction things are headed?

..."All Anglicans are equal, but some are more equal than others."

By participating in Lambeth, we affirm such bigotry. Attending is wrong. It's really that simple...

We need to move past this, with our integritry intact.
In the comments John-Julian, OJN, considered again what would happen if TEC bishops did not attend. It remains a strong argument, of course: it is tactical and strategic. He wrote:
I just don't know, Jake. I wish I could feel as clearly as you do about it......

1. If TEC bishops go and GS bishops don't (which seems the most likely scenario at present), then formal "Anglicanism" can conceivably be redeemed.

2. If TEC bishops do not go and GS bishops do go (as they probably would if TEC bishops weren't there), then we simply hand all of it to them on a platter.

3. If Bishop Robinson goes - even only as an invited "guest" - he will command the major attention of the media. For them, he will be the star-of-the-show. And there is the possibility of a lot of very positive and powerful PR for our causes.

4. I think your call for every TEC bishop to boycott Lambeth is whistling in the wind -- far too many TEC bishops would never respect that boycott, and, again, it would just bailing out and handing everything over to the reactionaries. Imagine the Duncan crew representing TEC!!!!!!!

5. Also, there are plenty of Anglican bishops from elsewhere who are definitely "on our side" and who would really feel isolated and "betrayed" if TEC were not to show up.

6. I suspect that the OUTCOMES of Lambeth may well provide a solid basis for action in one direction or another -- even voluntarily withdrawing (with our funding) from the Anglican behemoth.

I am with you so strongly, and I feel the same anger and offense with you, but I also see some practical and strategic matters that affect my thinking.
What to make of this? Well I suppose it comes down to whether the Anglican Communion, as it is intended, is valued or not. Because, if the Communion takes on the appearance Rowan Williams desires, then many a Church would have to be out of it - they would not concede to foreign intervention, and would find themselves put out of the Communion anyway - a case of not wanting to be a member of a Communion that wouldn't have it anyway.

Then they will go after Canada, and then others that apparently fall out of line, but TEC would be right to seek its own alliances and reconstitute a looser Anglican Communion. The simple point is, though, can its bishops sign up to go on the basis that they must agree to the Covenant, a Covenant set up on lines of clarifying international Instruments of Communion set up on the basis of Bible reading based on Lambeth 1998 1:10? It may be not that they are protesting against going, but in all conscience (and a modicum of theological training) that they cannot sign up to such a basis of attendance. And this may be the case for many others outside the United States who find this a compromise too far.

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