Sunday, December 2, 2007

Conservatives and "Conservatives"

I've explained by usage elsewhere, but I should probably explain it here.

I make a distinction between conservatives (sans quotation marks) and "conservatives" (avec quotation marks).

In the former grouping, I include people like the recently decamped Bishop of Rio Grande, whose departure from the Episcopal Church to the gentle embrace of Rome was done quickly, cleanly and with every effort to minimize the disruption to the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Rio Grande. I include the Bishop of Central Florida, who, while deeply distressed and constantly opposed to matters within the common life of his Church which he believes to be contrary to the Gospel, has publicly indicated that, until such time as he may choose to leave the Episcopal Church, he will defend the institutional integrity of the denomination in accordance with the vows that he has made - and that should he choose personally to depart, he will not purport to be taking his diocese with him.

In the latter, I would include those who, it seems to me, have been using the present (and largely manufactured) crisis to advance their own aggrandizement. I would include an assortment of Global South Primates who pick and choose which bits of the Windsor Report or of Lambeth resolutions are authoritative, demanding that all others comply to the bits they like while feeling no compunction about ignoring the bits they don't. I would likewise include those whose claim against the Episcopal Church (and more recently the Anglican Church of Canada) have been little more than broad brush slanders against anyone who disagrees with them, with accusations of assorted heresies randomly tossed about based on no evidence whatsoever.

In short, my distinction between conservatives and "conservatives" broadly mirrors a distinction made among those on "that side" of the argument between "Communion conservatives" (those who will express their conservatism in the context of existing structures) and "Realignment conservatives" (who seek to overthrow the structures willy-nilly, rebuilding them to their own liking).

From where I sit, the former position has integrity. The latter has none.

Notionally, I would posit the same distinction between liberals and "liberals," but I don't find I need to make that one all that often.

And apart from all that, I don't really find the terms liberal and conservative all that accurate in describing the positions anyway - except that everyone knows, broadly, who we mean. But as one who grew up in a CCF household in Saskatchewan when Ross Thatcher was Premier, I find it distinctly uncomfortable to label myself as a liberal, with or without quotation marks.


Anonymous said...

You will find a much more eloquent response to your concerns than I can voice here:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that didn't work -- I'll try again:

Malcolm+ said...

Sorry, Mrs. Falstaff. I don't quite see how the link responds to my post at all.

Even on your (I presume it is your) "side" in this dispute, there has been a distinction made between "Communion conservatives" and "Realignment conservatives," which would broadly match my distinction between conservatives sans and avec quotation marks.

Anonymous said...

I thought it answered your remarks about his integrity quite adequately, actually.

Malcolm+ said...

I don't quite see how it has much of anything to do with my post at all. Unless, of course, you are arguing that my distinction is bunkum and really all the conservatives want to weed us horrible liberals out of the Church.

Anonymous said...

Just testing something.

Anonymous said...

just a test

Anonymous said...

Thanks Malcolm+; I just needed to adjust the multiple security settings on my safari beta and it seems to be fine for comments now.

I'll join in the conversation when I have something intelligent to add! :^)