Monday 5 May 2008

Row Meets Benny

Benny: Tell me your progress regarding the identity of the Anglican Church, Archbishop. What can you report?
Row: Thank you for calling me Archbishop, Your Holiness.
Benny: It's a courtesy title; it does not imply recognition. After all, I see the Dalai Lama as 'His Holiness'. But you should recognise me.
Row: Thank you, Your Holiness - indeed. As you will know, last year I wrote a letter for Advent in which I laid out the bonds of expectation from one Anglican province to another in order to maintain geographical monopoly, based on a strict reading of the Bible, as in Africa.
Benny: Yes. I do not understand why you have that basis of reading the Bible. It is for the Church to decide how to read the Bible.
Row: I went as far as I could within the letter, but based it on a Nigerian hermeneutic. At present, Your Holiness, the centre of the Anglican Communion cannot determine how the Bible is to be understood.
Benny: It would be expected.
Row: When we have Instruments of Communion, more can be decided centrally. Certainly we would determine who is bona fide Anglican.
Benny: It is all very loose. Will you go on to have a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or equivalent? This is recommended.
Row: We shall have a role like this - for the Churches. The Covenant, of course, Your Holiness. The Covenant.
Benny: It is all very loose. In order for the Lambeth Conference to work, you need to have only those bishops attending who are in favour. Those who are setting up their own conference would be useful allies for the time being to get this discipline set up. It is awkward they are working from the outside. So we need only the right people at Lambeth. Have those letters gone out yet?
Row: I don't know who to send them to. The purpose of the Advent Letter was to have those Global Anglican Future people inside. On the opposite side it seems from the reactions of our Churches - those who have bothered - that they are resistant to a Covenant that will exercise discipline.
Benny: It is very very loose. My secretariat had sent to you the letter for resistant bishops for you to copy; have you not sent copies out yet?
Row: No, I really don't know who should receive them. Mr Robinson is not coming, nor the boundary crossers...
Benny: Well we only initially excluded them because we want one disciplined Church. My secretariat has a full list of bishops to receive these letters. They have been emailed to you this morning, so that your staff can think this has resulted from our ecumenical discussion.
Row: May I ask you, Your Holiness, whether your secretariat told the Bishop Thomas that I was sending out the letters? My staff have had to say that they will go out "presently".
Benny: Yes, well we assumed that you knew to whom they would be sent. So we also assumed that you were sending them. We told the committee, and it spoke in the company of Thomas. This is nothing underhand. Either you want the prize of the Mother Church, the One True Church, recognising the Anglican denomination, or you don't.
Row: I must be frank with you, Your Holiness.
Benny: We cannot run everything for you.
Row: The Covenant will either have no teeth, or if we make it have teeth some fifteen or so of our Anglican provinces will not accept it. So you should be the first to know: I am going to resign.
Benny: You give up before you start. Now these dioceses for male only clergy: these can be a model for revising the nature of the Church of England...
Row: I wish to follow Tony Blair.
Benny: Now you are talking.
Row: I would wish to give my full submission to you but would live the life of a simple, lay, monastic-style obedient theologian. Now about my marriage...
Benny: You will be ordained deacon, priest and bishop in a day and I will see to it that you become a cardinal. Unlike you, I draw the cheer of the crowds; unlike you I make decisions; unlike you I decide what happens. I have decided, and I am never wrong.
Row: When I gave you that picture of Cardinal Newman, and reflected back on my own formation, and realised what I wanted to do - under your guidance - regarding the Catholic nature of Anglicanism, and yet have seen the chaos that has been taking place, I realised that he had come to the right conclusions.
Benny: Indeed. You have no need of the Anglicans any more. Don't worry about the Covenant - what on earth is that anyway? We can take specific national Churches. We shall arrange your transfer.
Row: I am more than honoured. You would set the dates?
Benny: Yes. But I have one more task for you. I want the Bishop of Beverley to succeed you. My secretariat will presently instruct you how to achieve this.
Row: I await your instructions.
Benny: Forget those letters, by the way. Ignore the message in your inbox. Yes. Time's up. There will be a drink waiting for you outside.
Row: Most gracious thanks, Your Holiness.

1 comment:

Abhijit Pandya said...

Unlike you, I draw the cheer of the crowds; unlike you I make decisions; unlike you I decide what happens. I have decided, and I am never wrong.

Hilarious! Thank you for this Pluralist.

As for RW following the example of John Henry Newman, we live in hope...