Friday 30 July 2010

Radio Eboracum: The Covenant

Host: Good evening to this weeks' What's the Point? discussion forum on Radio Eboracum featuring some of this country's leading bishops. We have the Main Most Reverend Rowanov Treetri, Archbishop of Anglicanism, the Other Most Reverend John Sendmehome, the Archbishop of the North, the retiring scholarly Right Reverend New Testament Wrong, lately Bishop of the North East, the soon to retire Right Reverend John Sackme, Bishop of Imp, and Right Reverend Donald W. M. Troosers, Bishop of Peter Brough.

The subject matter is the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. A new set of pages has appeared on the Ye Olde Once-Modernist Union of Churchmenpeoplepersons website that give opposition to this Covenant, and the Bishop of Imp is the President of YOOMUC. Bishop Imp, can we start by outlining the Anglican Covenant and why you are President of a pressure group opposing it?

John Sackme: We can. The proposed Anglican Covenant is a document by which Anglican Churches will propose to consult one another and the Instruments of Communion before innovating on any matter thought to be controversial by other Churches and thus bringing together a more coherent Anglican identity.

Host: I thought you were against it?

John Sackme: No, I am a President of YOOMUC which has taken a position regarding the Anglican Covenant but I am not the same as YOOMUC.

Host: So you might be in favour of it?

John Sackme: No, I am a bishop of the Church in England, still active at the moment, which requires me to uphold the faith and order of the Church in England.

Donald W. M. Troosers: I love liberals now. Don't you love liberals now? Such is the breadth of this Church that promoted me. Despite the fact that these liberals are evil, satanic, and undermine the utter reliability of the Word of God and being hung, drawn and quartered is, frankly, too good for them.

Host: John Sackme, does the Covenant not do a job that can uphold the faith and order of the Church in England?

John Sackme: Probably, but if I speak favourably about things it doesn't mean I can't investigate how we can scupper things, for example find out that the thing is illegal according to the faith and order of the Church in England.

Host: How might it be illegal?

John Sackme: The Church in England cannot accept any form of direction from outside itself. It is autonomous, purely a national Church. No direction from abroad.

Host: How do you answer that, Rowanov Treetri?

Rowanov Treetri: The purpose of the Anglican Covenant, the fruit of the Windsor process, is not in particular to direct, demonstrate or purposefully guide any Anglican Church into any direction regarding what it sees as its own canonically correct arrangement of faith and order issues; it is, however, I think reasonably as we are of one Communion, to offer means of process and I suppose to some extent guidance towards some kind of general identity regarding the faith and order that we share, so that ecumenically we can be called of one Church without being a Church, that is to say towards a Catholic faith and order recognisable ecumenically where no one local Church is radically different from any other in terms of its treatment of, say, a tentative but expressive biblical hermeneutic or the development of an essential doctrinal position.

Host: Yes, I think you are saying...

John Sackme: He is saying that the Anglican Covenant is non-binding, but we have to see whether it is.

New Testament Wrong: It's time to back our leader and damn well adopt the thing. There's been enough of this shilly shallying around. It's as clear as any biblical scholarship, and after all I am leading the field, and so we should take it and have it and put your money where your mouths are. Thank God I'm going and getting away from all this.

Host: But if you see whether it is or not binding, it's too late.

John Sackme: No, because it might not be legal, see.

New Testament Wrong: Look, if we are going to spend all this time on the thing, under his leadership, then bloody well let's have it. There's this sort of namby pamby shimby shamby voting here and namby pamby bimby bamby voting there. You put it in your pipe and you smoke it, that's what you do. In, smoke, puff.

Host: You've not spoken, John Sendmehome.

John Sendmehome: I say he is my great friend, who has put up with too much criticism from a horrid, horrid media. Rowanov said to me, "I want to go to Paris." I said, "Eurostar?" He said he wishes he was, but has to make do with being Archbishop.

Host: You agree with Rowanov?

John Sendmehome: Well it's not like a lorry load of tortoises crashing into a train-load of terrapins. That would be a turtle disaster. No, we have Rowanov telling us what the Covenant is and isn't, and I trust the man. Three men start talking to a girl in church. One says, "Hello, I'm Peter but not a saint," and then the next one says, "Me, I'm Paul but not a pope," and then the last one says, "Well, I'm John but not the Baptist," and she replies, "Hello chaps, and I'm Mary but not the virgin."

Host: It's the way you tell 'em Archbishop. The YOOMUC website says that The Covenant would make the Churches more backward-looking by needing to consult biblical texts or church law, not reason or experience, that it would be inward-looking, responding to Anglican bureaucracies not people, increase outside interference via procedures, add to centralisation and hierarchy restricting which beliefs and norms are permitted to Anglicans, hinder ecumenical relations thanks to vetoes by other provinces but sees that at least if the Church in England's General Synod votes against it, it will probably not be viable.

New Testament Wrong: What utter drivel. How dare they? The modernist period in the Church in England, coming to us big time in the 1960s and 1970's, was the worst period I can think of theologically, thankfully reversed since I came along and started selling my books. What Church do they think they're in? The whole point is to consult biblical texts and Church law and we do absolutely restrict which beliefs and norms are permitted to Anglicans. We're not misled like nineteenth century Unitarians or dissenting Quakers, you know. We're Anglicans, proud and true, of the Christian community, and we have a world wide fellowship of Anglican believers too. All that liberal ipsy dipsy tweety twippy claptrap is just a long gone passing phase; we're now back to the good solid red meat of the biblical research I make up as I go along.

Donald W. M. Troosers: But just read the pages of the Bible. I thumb mine so regularly I have to buy several Bibles a year, just for me. It is like honeydew and nectar dripping off the page. Every word gives us guidance for life.

Rowanov Treetri: It is a matter of discerning the latest research and approaching that from within a context of a faithful and, yes I do believe, doctrinal perspective, and of course we are not free simply to determine as we would wish the boundaries of that perspective, at least not in a manner that could contradict the great Councils nor the guidance they have given in the hermeneutic we employ, and this is why consistent with a Covenant that is not directive we ought to do more work as a Communion on the legitimate boundaries of a working hermeneutic. I recognise that there are historical issues and cultural issues too, and these have been tackled by the likes of Frei on the Protestant side and our own regeneration of Platonic insights in a postmodern setting thanks to the boundary marking activities of the likes of John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, and Graham Ward, producing I think a vibrant and new Anglican-Catholicism, so to lead to me to try to persuade some not to leave. But in recognising these major and of course challenging issues we see that we are closer to one another and ought to recognise that we just about share a common gathering of bishops or at least invite them to come together and thus to edge, ever so gently, towards being more of a worldwide Church than perhaps some are comfortable with.

Host: Not your perspective, John Sackme, being the President of YOOMUC.

John Sackme: What a great teacher we have in Rowanov. Well putting that hosting side to one side, of course we can come to having open discussion and I do settle at the point of affirming the Incarnation, see, and again an open approach to the resurrection, which I fully affirm. Indeed, curiously, I affirm it all, openly, at least until I retire when I might consider all these issues again and think of another book with a snappy title. But, on the other hand, we ought to have the space to be Anglicans in a very broad sense and whether the Covenant is for or against that we will, like I say, have to see. It is the quality of affirming who we are whilst being both for and against, and that is quite the way we are as Anglicans. And I say this as the most radical bishop probably in office today, really pushing the boat out but still wedded to the very same beach that all Anglicans enjoy, clearly without upsetting anybody. It is not like John Robinson or David Jenkins, in that nowadays we know our place and we need to secure our place - that, yes, you can be sort of liberal, if that is what you are, and still to affirm that you are fully loyal to indeed affirm the Anglican cause in our own context. We need to establish that reassurance, you see, which is why the argument against a Covenant is somewhat muted but hope to kick it into touch at the same time via some backroom skullduggery.

Host: We are coming to the end or our time. There will only be a straight vote, not two-thirds. Is that a fix, a set-up?

New Testament Wrong: Dead right too. Get the thing passed. It's not as if it makes great changes, as we move from autonomy to a worldwide fellowship, including faithful believing sorts as among our cousins in Africa and Asia. It is not like women bishops, where we can wait for them - too controversial, where we have to have the dioceses and yes a two thirds vote. No simple majority there, sod that for a game of soldiers. But I want to thank everyone for the support they have given me before I retire and my parting message is that it was a privilege to be at the centre of this Church and to see how this Covenant has been steered along. Well done Rowanov; you're my very good friend mate.

Donald W. M. Troosers: How can one say that Paul did not write the apparently later Pastoral epistles? Who are we to say? No no no, every word, every word is so directed. For 6000 years we have come to a point where we are ready, ready for His return. Are any of you ready?

John Sendmehome: I get what John Sackme is saying, like a pastoral side to let people think. I had a man come to my bishopidge once, and he said, "Bishop, bishop, I haven't eaten for four days," and I said, "Force yourself." He said, "I want a thousand pounds for a cup of coffee." I said that the coffee shop sells it for two pounds, and it's 25p if he goes into a local church. He said, "Yes but I want to drink it in Brazil." And that's how it is with the Covenant - it's like we drink it in Brazil as well and around the world, bringing up together, and yet the Covenant makes it 25 pence local rate. We come closer together. There was a bishop who went abroad on Anglican Communion business, and said there was this very glamorous girl banging on his hotel door all night. Eventually he let her out. I was conducting a wedding once, for a fastidious couple. She was fast and he was hideous. He was always frank and earnest with women. In London, he was Frank and in York he was Ernest. His wife wasn't thick but when she took the dog to school they gave the GCSEs to the dog. She must have had Egyptian blood. He said that every time he tried to kiss her she went, "Tut Tut!"

Host: You might have the wrong radio show here, John. Perhaps you need a phone in show.

John Sendmehome: A man rings a solicitors' and the receptionist answers, "Grabbit, Grabbit, Grabbit and Grabbit." The man says, "Let me talk to Mr. Grabbit." "I'm sorry," she says, "but he's on holiday." "Then let me talk to Mr. Grabbit." "He's in court advising his client's barrister on a big case, and is not available for one week." "Then let me talk to Mr. Grabbit." "I'm afraid it's his day off - he's playing golf today with other solicitors." "Okay, then let me talk to Mr. Grabbit." "Putting you through."

Host: What's that got to do with anything?

John Sendmehome: A vicar called John asks his parishioner at the church door after a service, "Are you alright Michael," and he says, "No, I keep getting headaches." John the vicar says, "Well, when I get a headache, I put my head on my wife's bosom and the pain eases away." "I'll try that," says Michael, and later the vicar returns to the vicarage to find Michael's head lost in the ample cleavage of John's own wife.

Donald W. M. Troosers: Sin. Sin, just sin. What can we do about sin?

John Sendmehome: What the original or the new? Where's me flat cap?

Host: Right, well thank you everyone. Next week we shall discuss: The Creeds: Guidance or Imposition.

John Sackme: Is that 'Imp position' eh John?

John Sendmehome: Stick to the day job, John.

Rowanov Treetri: I haven't a clue what's happening.

Donald W. M. Troosers: You're all lost: you all need to be saved!

John Sendmehome: A fundamentalist went up in a helicopter. It went up to six thousand feet and then came crashing down, and smashed all over a mountain side. They sent the rescue teams out, like. The black box recorder revealed the fundy saying, "It's getting chilly up here, I'm turning the fan off."

Host: Goodbye. Next up on Radio Eboracum is Peter Levite's Yes or No. Get ready to text in.


Leonard said...

The black box recorder revealed the fundy saying, "It's getting chilly up here, I'm turning the fan off."

Thank you dear Pluralist, I´m finally figuring the whole thing out...have a great weekend.

June Butler said...

Adrian, thanks partly to you, I know more about the Church of England than I ever thought I'd know (or perhaps want to know!). I'm not familiar enough with two of the bishops to know if you've got them right, but I know enough about the speaking and writing styles of three of the bishops to know that you've done a remarkable job of mimicry.

Of course, your words are much funnier. N. T. Wrong is especially right. Wouldn't you be the poorer if Abp. Sendmehome was actually sent home?

And what an apt word verification - "atomed".