Wednesday 6 May 2009

Continuing at ACC: Archbishop Presents

This is the presentation the Archbishop Roald See O'Vee wanted to make to the gathering in order to thrash out the issues for the future and decisions that might or might not be taken. A number of people made interventions (as they do) or asked some questions, as below.

Archbishop Roald See O'Vee (RSV): I want to bring to you today the immortal words of a British Prime Minister that seem apt in addressing you on this august occasion in May.

Can't get away to marry you today,

My wife won't let me.

These are the words of someone who is already occupied within a Communion, that Communion of an existing partnership, and what contrast it is to sing such a song compared with this one, called Goodbye-ee, composed by R. P. Weston and Bert Lee in 1915:

As the train moved out he said,

'Remember me to all the birds.'

Then he wagged his paw

and went away to war
Shouting out these pathetic words:

Goodbye-ee, goodbye-ee,
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee,
Tho' it's hard to part I know,
I'll be tickled to death to go.

We certainly are not tickled as we tackle the problem of the Communion, the Instruments and ask, before we do say goodbye-ee to each other in the Communion, we ought to hold up the Gospel train and keep talking with the doors held open even as the guard comes along.

Archbishop Henley Ugandaman (HU): Surely, Archbishop, the train has a departure time. In any case, we don't have to travel from your station to get to my destination. If the train stays on the platform, we don't travel. We see no countryside, we see no towns, only the pansexualists on the platform talking to the Christians on the train, Archbishop.

Rev. Barry Brokeback (BB): I don't care for that terminology, typical of the hard right. We have to put up this far too often, though some where you come from have to put up with far, far worse, and among your continental neighbours.

Archbishop RSV: I think we must listen, and listen as long as it says in Matthew 18:21 to 22.

Archbishop HU: It says clearly there seventy seven times is the maximum. That is it. We have waited. The train is one hour 17 minutes late Archbishop and it should have gone by now.

Archbishop RSV: I don't think that is my exegesis of the passage.

Archbishop HU: Plain and simple reading, Archbishop, from cover to cover. That's how it is in the new coming Anglican Communion. 77 minutes and time's up. Look at your Advent Letter two years ago.

Archbishop RSV: Well it is no joy to me or others in positions of authority that the train has to wait while the passengers are still talking to their loved ones. Look, Jesus is the guard and Peter the train driver. Peter must wait for Jesus to shut the doors.

Archbishop HU: But, taking your earlier song, there would be no wedding! Not one of your Civil Partnerships is it?

Archbishop RSV: Indeed there wasn't a wedding, he could not get away to marry her, whether he was in a Civil Partnership or not. These are limitations we probably have to place to make the Communion work. No polygamy, though this is in the Bible of course, though Civil Partnerships are not, I grant you, but are in the Church for the purposes of pensions.

Rev. BB: I don't care for the association with sin regarding the issue at hand. It's not sin we are discussing here. It's Lurv. All you need is love, da da da-da daa.

Archbishop RSV: Listen to the man! We don't even agree that the train is on the right rails! So the signalman or signalwoman - the bishops to Peter the train driver - has to be involved. So what is the situation? Well, years back there was the overnight sleeper from London to Mallaig, and it used to divide before Glasgow. Is this what we want - the guard saying these carriages go to Glasgow, but these go on to Mallaig? He surely would not divide his own train, only the management would. But that's if it's organised. We are the management saying, the timetable should be one train. But imagine despite this the train flew apart as a communion in chaos and disruption, with the passengers all mixed up, sooner or later we would have to hear the voice of the guard saying: there's your brother, there's your sister, there's a long journey for you to Mallaig to go and start reconciliation. I'm reminded of the composers of Goodbye-ee with the lines about standing beside your enemy:

Sing all the old, old songs she knew.
Then she made a speech and said,
"I look on you boys with pride,
And to thank you all I'm going to kiss each one"

I do link the listening process, keeping the train in the station then, with the moratoria, which also keeps the train in the station. There are three moratoria: the brakes, the shunting engine stopping the main engine, and Jesus not blowing his whistle. So the idea then, in order to produce a Communion - because we can build a better railway station around the train, including a very good management suite on the first floor - is that the train goes nowhere at all for all the time that we cannot agree where it is going to go. I think this will allow us to have a vibrant train, when it leaves the station finally.

Rev. BB: I think I'll walk.

Archbishop RSV: Well, there we are. He would rather walk. There could be buses or even taxis. What unclarity! Do we know what sort of Church we want to be? It's not as though if we did nothing, other than sitting in the train, something would just go on. We need to make some choices and those choices are basically stay on the train or get out, the train going to the destination it says on the timetable and going as one train. The guard would not want to see us go down the sinful route of occupying taxis, buses or Shanks's pony.

Now, if I may move on, the Railway Board is accused by the shareholders of, on the one hand, usurping its authority and, on the other, of not having enough authority. These aren't just a bunch of middle aged Hornby enthusiasts - and one girl, sorry - up in the loft, but people who really do represent the track and the equipment. Now some of these managers do come down from the loft and talk to the workers' representatives, and that might be the way to decide where the train is going to go and in one piece. Get the signalmen - and women, sorry - with us. We have to be practical.

Now if we think about years ago and the situation at Hull. The North Eastern Railway ran a monopoly, so what happened? A very strange ragbag of a railway called The Hull and Barnsley Railway was built. It never went to Barnsley, and had something like three tails in the West Riding as then was. But to get to Hull it had to tunnel under the Wolds, and come through suburbs, and have a high level line to get to the docks. Do we really want this sort of parallel jurisdiction? Isn't the Anglican Church of North America the ecclesiastical equivalent of the Hull and Barnsley Railway? What is the solution? It is, of course, a strengthening of the Instruments of Communion, a production of something like the LNER. That way the need for a remote Hull station like Cannon Street is avoided, and the high level line becomes a resource useful to this very day.

(Bishop-select) Canon Philip Crumb Monarch Bootslick: I really must write down how you make these analogies for my future sermons on my bishop railway travels.

Archbishop RSV: What we don't want is the kind of privatisation of the last Conservative government in Great Britain, when one Church owned the rails and other Churches ran different services and ticketing became a nightmare. But the LNER we envisage would still have local services, not Beeching, no need for Beeching at all.

Rev. Professor Douglas Ian (DI): What we don't want, Archbishop, and what we could get, is years of Amtrak. We need something that is much more progressive, something that may happen only now thanks to a bit of stimulation.

Archbishop RSV: But better Amtrak than having to use Greyhound.

Rev. Professor DI: Really?

Archbishop RSV: Because while Jesus might be said to be on the bus, he is the guard of the train. And the train goes along orthodox rails, whereas the bus can, frankly, go anywhere.

Rev. Professor DI: Oh. I admire your intellectual narrative ability, Archbishop, just as I admire even more greatly our Presiding Bishop and her ability to wait years for any decision at all regarding this Covenant proposal.

Archbishop RSV: To conclude my presentation. Even if we get the train moving, there are going to be frozen points, the wrong snow, leaves on the line, occasional wayward signalmen and signalwomen who think they know better which way to send the train. But it comes down to the management. If we get the management right, then there might just be less delay for the train leaving, because after all the people on the platform have homes into which they wish to return.

Canon PCMB: Most illuminating, and I would like to express my appreciation... Where is everyone going?

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