Friday 15 May 2009

Dr Art Tickle Righter's Baby

The Wisdom of the Double-Cross:
Some reflections on ACC-14 and the Anglican Covenant Baby

Written by and CC: Rev. Art Tickle Righter;
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 2 pm to 2:30 pm coffee break.

Some sad people from around the world Communion of Anglicanism have asked me to surface from ACI business and say something about how my Covenant baby was treated by those people of the ACC.

There are many reasons why I might keep quiet and at least two reasons, I suppose, why I get solicited like this.

First, as well as being in the ACI I was a member of the CDG. So I gave birth to this along with a donation from my mate Archbishop Diesel Addams. It is our baby and several tits have tossed it around the nursery without as much as offering it a bottle of milk.

Secondly, I have long articulated the hermeneutical necessity of doctrinally traditional Anglicans like myself to engage people in complex theoretical wordplay by which time a general bafflement comes about, and yet in this process by the time that Archbishop Roald See O'Vee gets his talking rubbers on to it no one can fail to match the underwhelming complexity of his derivated verbal constructionisms not unlimited to the Covenant baby itself in all its sections and the resolutions it produces in what pram to use and where to take it for walkies.

What Happened

The CDG members involved in the birth feel particularly sad at what happened, when the ACC took the baby's head off and pulled its arms, and then said its feet will have to be detached, delayed in another walk in the park and returned to the JCC, who is effectively an unmarried mother given a task to bung them back on during a walk while it sleeps in its temporary pram. Those feet might end up being bigger, have fewer toes, and even be put on left foot to right leg and versa vice.

There is no justification for what the ACC has done to my baby and they did not have the father's permission - yes, the one in heaven, and me, as Mary, who sits alongside the father in heaven and gives him motherly advice.

So after this violence at the nursery the ACI produced a statement, which I signed, expressing the dismay of a mother at the process that has been followed in reaching this conclusion. We wrote a great deal for people to read, not excluding the nursery staff, and described everything as "embarrassing", "confused", and "manipulative". I stand by this initial characterisation, except I don't because I wish to repent of the word "manipulative" as there is no evidence at all that anyone knew what they were doing when they yanked the baby's head off (as North Americans would), and twisted its arms and eventually dropped its feet into another pram. This is because nursery staff at the ACO said to the ACI, "Are you sure?" and I said, "No, actually; we are clueless like you."

Who gave birth to this baby? Who allowed it to speak its first words, and then produce long winded sentiments once it arrived at the ACC? In a few confused and chaotic few minutes visible to the world at large that have serious consequences for the Communion, and whose propriety is now debated (and I and the ACI are hardly the initiators of or even strident voice in this debate), and the actual significance of which remains unstated and unknown, the baby was forced to swallow its growing diction like a thick dictionary was lodged in its gob.

Unlike at the CDG, the resolutions that did these actions came from a small unrepresentative group that simply did not appear representative of the views of the whole ACC, and the sequence of events in the debate and resolution-voting, amending, and re-voting maintained a skewed dynamic of direction as people struggled to know what meant what and where in the torture of the English language, for which I am infamously well known, is it all going?

The nursery staff at the ACO persuade neither me nor the ACI, that somehow they have a sense of the other parents in the form of Archbishops and bishops and babies crawling around them in the form of laity and some rather pathetic clergy, many there under the subterfuge of being reporters.

The parents from Nigeria do tend to smack their children, and so does that dad from Uganda, though he was missing down the ecclesiastical pub somewhere else, neglecting his other children again. Then there was the deaf parent from Egypt, who can't hear his kids as part of the listening process all parents should undergo when raising children. And then you get Western parents with their fancy theories such as from Mr Spock and Captain Kirk, and the Americans even sent a woman, when we thought mothers like me would be busy out at work, like cleaning toilets and doing typing jobs. How are nursery staff then at the ACC supposed to get the balance of the unemployed fathers then, other than by them being there and not going down the pub?

There may indeed be good explanations for why things happened with the babies, and particularly this baby, the way they did. But the concrete dropping explanations have not been forthcoming, or outgoing, and on a matter of such importance, fraught with enormous lintel-busting tensions from the start, especially involving Health and Safety, this lack of clear illumination cannot but be perceived as substantively obfuscating (and get your teeth round that one Mr Ugandaman and others who were actually present for whom English is a second language struggling to hang on to the word constructions of Roald See O'Vee).

Some admission of this fact would go some way to mitigating a lingering sense on the part of many.

I personally have no opinion on this matter, but it has left a bitter taste for someone who prefers pils.

Its Meaning

Of course I am I am deeply deeply disappointed. Me and my mates at the CDG had been busy and even the the Covenant's detractors had admitted we had carefully assessed and appropriated suggestions and critiques.

So what was wrong with the baby as delivered to the nursery? Couldn't they have let it crawl around instead of trying to yank its head off and remove its feet? I would be the first to acknowledge that it was not perfect. When we put it on draught we thought, well at least this is an Anglican baby, surely a compromise in itself. We could have bottled it better, perhaps, but people prefer a good draught and we had a good third draught pulled at this stage of its growth with a nice big head. The CDG has actually given it a common mind from quite disparate original perspectives, and we gave it a good shot of electricity. No other Communion child has undergone such a deep and wide-ranging and temporally patient scrutiny when born in hospital and since and with instant open-hearted surgery, rooted on common prayer and worship by the doctors and professors of theology when operating.

But I am willing to admit that my hope that the ACC would simply discuss and commend the draught pulled was ill-founded and represented.

We were oriented to a process that moved somewhat too quickly from the maternity ward and perhaps the nursery could have operated only as a "response" group, much as Lambeth 2008 functioned with the last Covenant sprog on draught. Then ACC responses to intervention might have come back to the CDG and we could have sent it out in an ambulance for finding foster parents, going via Roald See O'Vee, this short term foster parent being able first to say, "cudgee cudgee coo," or perhaps, in his case,"uncudgee uncudgee uncoo," or even saying different things at different times, affirming the baby, criticising it and affirming it again according to which arm, leg or head was attached or unattached with each subsequent amendment inside a pram so that no one gathered round knew what was happening at the time.

The larger context of this authority is the one that takes acutely into account the common service of the Communion's members. As I will point out below, I have not finished yet in this tortuous explanation of anything in particular, as I watch the clock and drink my coffee.

Let's be honest. Political manoeuvering is the standard method that the Holy Spirit uses to advance his agenda in this twisted and upside down world of scheming and monumental suffering that is brought about. Look at the disastrous first Council of Jerusalem in the Book of Acts, and then Nicaea and then Lampal. I feed my dog with Lampal. But what do the neighbours think, with all the crying that comes out of the ACC nursery, and that's only the staff and the parents, while the children play away merrily around their feet? I find deeply disturbing my own response to how the nursery runs and the parents' "standing orders" as they get their babies on draught. It is ill-advised in large measure because the nusery has been moving away from old fashioned "Western" telling off frameworks to a more consensual approach of Mr Spock and Captain Kirk. The Captain, says Mr Spock, has to get the sense of the crew, in determining the mood of the gathering on the basis, not of votes, but of the tenor of the soprano and that computer voice by Majel wotsit and the nurse that was the Unitarian Gene Roddenberry's wife (the Unitarian baby in the nursery is the one that comes in with one leg). I would not recommend it: it is a highly subjective and thus unaccountable mechanism - one person "sensing" the ideas and mood of a large and highly disparate and often contentious group of individuals from many cultures and languages and worlds across the universe, all of whom look human with a bit of make up on and speak English anyway, which is a huge benefit for intergalactic travel. The method seems intrinsically flawed and incapable to doing. You have to absorb directions, and impose military rule. I suggest that next time the ACC puts on a pair of briefs about procedures it jolly well makes sure that the underpants fit. Roald See O'Vee noted that this was a "smallish thing". There is nothing "smallish" about it! Not in my pants anyway. Remember that I am a big nob in these parts.

This is a way that many do not trust, that has turned out to lack credibility in its prosecution, and that has taken many by surprise in the midst of a plea for expected forms of common life, and is to promote a certain kind of contradiction.

We should instead be a traffic lights people, called to red, yellow and green (Mt. 5:37) as the starship comes to its next junction with the Romulan Empire. There are many other Bible quotes I could make to add a bit of spurious credibility to these writings as my coffee gets cold.

So much has been damaged that I could get another mug for my coffee and writing. This represents a confirmation of all the negative feelings in place, ones that have been publicly acknowledged by the ACO itself, and that moved the CDG not to make the ACC a key arbiter. We have already seen that happen at the Lambeth Conference and it was to some extent already in evidence by no-shows at the ACC. There was the no-show at the end, when normally we have a show and Mr Ugandaman gives us a funny turn. This has been the poison in our ecclesial bloodstream thus far, and its public tainting. People might seek alternatives, like border collie crossing and other secretive mongrel breeding activities at GAFCON and the like.

All this makes us at ACI and CDG squirm about the ACC chosen group which could put the baby back together again and narrow the options. The JSC's coming participation in the confusions of the recent ACC and its involvement involves those most vigorously against my baby as it looked. They didn't even want me to have a child. Both the Primates' Meeting and the ACC have been judged inadequate for such an adjudicative task so how can the JSC do it? How will they be chosen in a credible fashion, given the different sizes Gok?

Related to all the above, the process and outcome of the ACC provided a negative Specsavers to ecumenical partners who don't like us regarding our ability to model the kind of communion-oriented polity. It undercuts our credibility as dialogue partners with those who think we only play at it in the nurseries of the world. It is hardly opening to a larger vision of ecclesial fellowship and reconciling commitment, providing a sad commentary on the devolution of Anglican unitive ecclesiology at work.

Do you not understand what I am saying? Is this not the point?

Those who have stayed have been yet again left to argue a case for which the Instruments themselves are offering little support. The surgeons need more invasive equipment. It is their own incapacity to speak and act clearly, like when I write.

My Continued Commitment to the Covenant Baby

Look, it's my baby and I want it back in one piece as me and the CDG put it together after it was born. It's my tit and I want to breastfeed. I want it able to be devious: as it was a baby to grow up and be a little beastie with all sorts of independent diocese friends. I could just simply walk away from it all, and seek to start afresh and get pregnant again with some new or untainted version of the Church. You can't get rid of me that easily: moving to Canada was just a tactical shift, on the grounds of "thus far, and no further" (Job 38:11). No, the powers of corruption, error, brokenness, and division (BCP page 816) are the objects of my fearless combat, wombat.

Always look on the bright side of life. Give the baby back as, frankly, I hope that it is the CDG itself that is given this task of putting its delayed feet back on, with Diesel Addams the father; or at least send the baban bach via another group with its feet as they were attached to other nurseries for consideration. There must be a clear public set of briefs given to this group, or alternatively give the baby a decent nappy to contain all the shit produced in this process. Myself, I would prefer that the Archbishop himself send the baby out directly straight to school and do it in short time, with its feet on so it can walk to school without the 'school run' of vehicles bunging up the pavements.

I don't wish to be pretentious, but we look like the parties of the world's civil wars, in Sri Lanka or elsewhere, while the civilians are being shelled, and this is no good for children walking to school, especially if they have to walk to Rome, the seat of the Beast. But do not fear going into the centre of such machinations, and facing them with a very cross Jesus Christ who is getting really fed up. He will say we are sheep and it is raining and I'm afraid the bell has gone so that's it as I have some student theology essays to mark, rather like mine, but rather slower in construction and somewhat easier to follow.

Dr Art Tickle Righter CDG ACI and mother.

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