Monday 7 September 2009

Conflict Level Five

I see that Baby Blue Online adds a first comment to its own blog entry on N.T. Wright and the ACI (etc.), a reference to the Diocese of Virginia and declaring a Level 5 conflict as many as 4 years ago. The Level 5 conflict involves:

ISSUE No longer clear understanding of the issue; personalities have become the issue. Conflict is now unmanageable.

EMOTIONS Relentless obsession in accomplishing the objective at all costs. Vindictive. No objectivity or control of emotion.

ORIENTATION Sees person(s) as harmful to society, not just to the offended group or person.

INFORMATION Information skewed to accomplish the objective at any cost.

LANGUAGE Focuses on words that imply the destruction and/or elimination of the other.

OBJECTIVE To destroy the offending party/persons; i.e., to see that the fired pastor does not get a job elsewhere.

OUTCOME Highly destructive. Use of compulsion to maintain peace. May be necessary to remove one or more parties from the situation. Higher authorities may need to intervene.

These are extracted from the website of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville (good choice!), and come from Speed B. Leas of The Alban Institute, each level up being a more intense and difficult conflict and five the highest.

Let's examine this. We have, for example in ISSUE the relentless attacks on Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori in particular, and in this blog entry an extension to Jim Naughton. Indeed this has been going on for some time. This matter extends to the unfortunately worded ORIENTATION (incidentally, when categories overlap - that issues become personalities, but a category involves personalities, the analytical scheme contains a problem itself).

An example of relentless obsession could be the number of blog entries produced on this one subject, but another good example is the obsession of the ACI in producing incredibly long and repetitive 'papers', the length of which intends to produce an argument as secure but which (to any teacher) indicates the opposite.

INFORMATION is skewed. Anyone looking objectively at the ideological output of The Episcopal Church sees it as well within the Anglican expression of Christian Trinitarian faith and certainly not equatable to the tendencies of Unitarianism, but the information by the breakaways forever tries to connect TEC with Unitarianism. If you want to see an example of Unitarian liturgy, look here. I wrote it.

In the same way, the LANGUAGE is accusatory and direct. The only people who try to mellow this in their disguise of academia is the lengthy writers of the ACI.

Clearly the OBJECTIVE now of the hard right and ACI is to destroy The Episcopal Church: for it to weaken, to put it out of the Anglican Communion, to have Rowan Williams on their side (rather than to act, say, more as a weathervane regarding the conflict's sides and keeping conversation going) and to use the available Tom.

Thus the OUTCOME is destructive, as by intention.

However, note should be taken in the scheme of skills needed. It is still not a completely hopeless situation.

All skills required for all other levels, plus...

Adequate personal support system and strong inner resources. Able to practice personal stress management.

Careful adherence to institutional rules, boundaries, legal restrictions, authority structures, etc.

Clearly main players like Rowan Williams and Katherin Jefferts Schori need their own pastoral support systems given the pressure this situation places them under. However, Careful adherence to institutional rules, boundaries, legal restrictions, authority structures, etc. is most interesting because, on the one side, we have the invention of rules and procedures at an international level, an innovation which Churches are being required to join, namely a Covenant and centralised Instruments of Communion that make the Communion more like a Church, and then there are the present institutional rules, boundaries, legal restrictions, authority structures, etc. which demonstrate that Anglicanism consists of Churches in each part/ land/s and that they are their own institutions of unity, and that the international aspect is a non-compulsory discussive gathering.

Should authority, for example, be demanded from the international level, by one means or another, the Church of England for one under present and actual rules would be legally unable to comply, and others would be similar or find their freedom of action restricted. Membership of a grouping around a document that is dependent on restriction - that to decide something internally risks being removed from it by outer authority - would constitute taking instruction from without, and this the Church of England cannot do. Further, given that the new rules would link the increased bureaucracy to the exclusion of a social group, including those in loving, steady relationships, many Churches simply will not sign up to such a human by bureaucracy-process-restriction.

So if the solution is to observe the rules, then the Covenant is a new innovation and should be put to one side. It is, itself, part of the conflict, and the solution is to be found in the present rules and institutions: of learning to live and let live, in learning to understand some will snap off relationships but that others will be made stronger - and that over time, these will change. The Covenant itself is new, trying to fix what cannot be fixed by new rules and bureaucracy - and is itself part of the conflict.

(I think I managed to write this briefly enough.)

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