Sunday 13 April 2008

Repressive Letters Go Out

I have been reading Tom Wright's lecture to the Fulcrum Conference that took place on Saturday 12 April in London. I was reading it to make some sort of commentary, but before I get to that (if I do) I noticed this, and it needs highlighting on its own terms:

After a summer and autumn of various tangled and unsatisfactory events, the Archbishop then wrote an Advent pastoral letter in which he reiterated the terms of his initial invitation and declared that he would be writing to those bishops who might be thought particularly unsympathetic to Windsor and the Covenant to ask them whether they were really prepared to build on this dual foundation. Those letters, I understand, are in the post as we speak [my emphasis], written with apostolic pain and heart-searching but also with apostolic necessity. I am well aware that many will say this is far too little, far too late - just as many others will be livid to think that the Archbishop, having already not invited Gene Robinson to Lambeth, should be suggesting that some others might absent themselves as well.

No doubt he was offering the conference-goers a little exclusive titbit for turning up. I hope he cleared it with the boss.

In other words, those bishops who consecrated Gene Robinson, and those on record who have doubted this Windsor Process, are getting extra letters suggesting they search their conscience and stay away. It's called meeting those you disagree with - not.

No doubt others have picked this up too from reading the lecture. The Church of England acting for the Anglican Communion is turning in on itself. We have just had locally a bishop that some call "revisionist" producing a non-argument against a gay couple having prayers said because 150 would turn up rather than a handful. This was in support of a Rural Dean who said he was not homophobic but these aren't real relationships. I know he's going to Lambeth. The Modern Churchpeople's Union has consistently argued against the Covenant, and he is its President, but, after this, no doubt there will not be a letter going to Lincoln.

So the Archbishop, the narrative one who wants vanishing bones historically turning into a supernatural body, is writing to add to the ongoing repressive approach.

No violence, no violence, he says, but can we stitch up the institution?

I am looking at a door called Exit. Personally I am in an increasingly impossible position. I am, I should say, heterosexual and still in a faithful marriage, my wife in Reading and me here in New Holland. I have no personal interest in any of this issue. I just think it stinks, and the stink is getting nastier and nastier.

I'm having a consultation with my adopted parish priest tomorrow. I won't go into it here, but this is squeezing me very strongly. Why am I bothering with an institution that carries on this disgusting attack on minorities?

Somebody, somewhere, in Anglicanism has to make the break. They have to say stuff this process and indeed wreck it, or if it is pushed on to them after the Lambeth Conference to destroy it in motion. We need Anglican Church after Church to say no to a Covenant, no to the whole process. Kill it dead. Tom Wright has Paul said this and Paul said that, and he wrote this in Corinthians and then that, and here is the parallel, and we've done the equivalent and now the process is going onward as we speak.

I imagined myself being a spectator at this Fulcrum conference, given the number of times I've added posts of a different perspective to the Fulcrum website. I don't know if I could have kept quiet. When, recently, my priest warned me that there would be far worse said (after a sermon when non-Christians were described as being in a desolate land, and in waste, and Christians were being built up as holy - and then I wanted to go into the desolate wasteland to be with people there). I said I know - and the preacher was thoughtful. It seems that with all this some sort of crunch point is coming.

Update: Monday 14 April

The Modern Churchpeople's Union blog makes the interesting point that this titbit of information from Tom Wright could have been deliberate planting for someone (like me) to take up. I make the comment that the Bishop of Durham is the most political of bishops and his claim to be a friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury has that sense where Wright keeps giving Williams a shove into the back to get on with it and says he's right behind him.

Another Update: Tuesday 15 April

Note the comment that Jim Rosenthal of the Anglican Communion Office says that there have been no letters sent. Graham Kings at Fulcrum points out to me that the Archbishop sends out the letters, not the ACO. This raises an interesting question. Does the Archbishop take the letters himself to the pillar box or does he hand them in at the office?


Anonymous said...

Dear Adrian,
Please be patient, not petulant. Why Exit when the future is on your side?
Joe O'Leary

Anonymous said...

This whole business of 'apostolic pain' and 'apostolic necessity' sounds to me like a matter for a proctologist. Hang in there, Adrian. I think Joe is right. These people are going to make a right mess, and then we will clean up and get on with the Lord's work.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Wright says that these letters are in the mail. Jim Rosenthal of the Anglican Communion Office says that there have been no letters sent. Who should we believe?

I'm going to wait and see what happens. Bishop Wright has been wrong before. From time to time he appears to attempt to create his own reality through wishful thinking.

Barry Fernelius

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Fascinating. I wonder if this is a wishful thinking shove in the back of his "friend" the Archbishop to tell him to get on with it, a titbit of information that was no information at all. Either way (letters, no letters) it tells us something.

Pfalz prophet said...

One certain method for getting an Anglican Covenant out of Lambeth is to invite only those in favor of a Covenant. But I thought the agenda provided little time for plenary sessions, so that this Lambeth will not be juridical.

As for the Windsor "process," I can no more envision the Provinces yielding any of their autonomy than I can envision Peter Akinola and John-David Schofield moving to Massachusetts and getting married. To each other.