Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How Guests Behave

In January of 1692, a regiment of Campbells received the hospitality of MacDonald of Glencoe. After several days as guests, and acting on a royal warrant, the Campbells arose in the earlier morning and undertook to slaughter all the MacDonald men they could find.

More than 300 years later, the story of the Massacre of Glencoe continues to resonate. Even in those violent times, even among the partisans of the 1688 revolution, the perfidious actions of Campbell of Glenlyon were seen as an appalling violation of the laws of hospitality. You just don't rise up in the morning and kill your host. It's not on.

Certainly I'd be put out if my guests rose up in the morning to kill me.

I'd even be annoyed if they just stole my stuff.

Heck, grumpy old curmudgeon that I am, I'd even be ticked if all they did was trample my xeriscaped front yard.

We have certain expectations of how guests ought to behave. And those expectations apply especially to uninvited guests.

If you invite me to your house, I don't necessarily guarantee that I'll be the best guest you've ever had. But I absolutely promise not to trample your lawn, snoop through your medicine chest, steal your possessions, be reckless with your expensive crystal. I certainly won't rise up in the morning to kill you.

Perhaps most importantly, if you tell me that now isn't a good time to visit, I promise to leave. Or if you call me in advance to tell me, I'll change my plans to leave you undisturbed.

That's because I know how a guest behaves.

The Archbishop of Abuja, apparently, does not.

Last month, Peter Akinola and all the usual suspects announced a conference for the "orthodox" to be held in Jerusalem in advance of the Lambeth Conference.

Lacking even the basic idea of how to behave in public, it never actually occurred to any of them to call the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem to see what he thought of the idea.

It's not like Bishop Dawani of Jerusalem is one of those evil hell-bound liberals (tm) that Peter Akinola and his Manichaean cum Docetist friends believe they should treat rudely. Dawani's views on "the" issue are certainly closer to Peter Akinola's than to mine.

But Peter Akinola has no manners. Oh sure, there was the proforma letter mailed on Christmas Eve, a full two days before the faux-orthodox made their big announcement. The kindest interpretation one can put to Akinola's behaviour is that he was too stupid to realize that a letter mailed internationally to Jerusalem over Christmas would take more than two days to arrive.

I don't think Akinola is stupid.

Peter Akinola simply doesn't give a rat's backside what Bishop Dawani thinks.

Akinola's arrogance, once again, had led him to overplay his hand. As the backlash to the conference (aptly named GafCon) grew, he was forced to make some concession to Bishop Dawani's concerns.

The minutes of Peter Akinola's meeting with Suheil Dawani make for interesting reading.

I don't have much use for Archbishop Jenson of Sydney either, but Jensen at least manages to appear like something less than an utter prat. He gives the appearance of actually taking Dawani's concerns seriously.

Akinola, on the other hand, is true to form. He dismisses Dawani's concerns as being fanciful and of no import. He implies that Dawani's failure to fall into step constitutes some infringement on the freedom of the "orthodox." He dissembles (at least) about the agenda of the conference and then, in a frenzy of Orwellian Newspeak, denies the conference is a conference at all.

As an Anglican who believes the historic strength of our Communion has been its capacity to accept internal disagreement, I find the attempts to impose an extreme Calvinist fundamentalism to be disturbing, distasteful and frankly dishonest.

But then I consider the arrogant buster of the Primate of Nigeria, and I consider myself blessed in my opponents.

As Akinola's arrogance drives away his natural allies, I wonder what the faux-orthodox might have accomplished with effective leadership.


Paul said...

Extremely well put, SMP.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Bishop of Jerusalem is sufficiently versed in his own particular context to realize that his see is a volatile place at the best of times. I would have to agree with his comment that they are welcome to come for a "pilgrimage", but let it be a a true pilgrimage, and they might want to hold their "business" meeting elsewhere.

As someone who has spent a bit of time in that part of the world, tempers flare easily, and fires once lit are hard to put out.

Did you also see that Tom Wright (in the Church Times) has expressed some concerns about this meeting as well? I will be watching this with interest - I generally fall a bit to the conservative side on the SSB issue, but I do wonder how this particular meeting will play out.


Malcolm+ said...

I have seen the Wright piece. I've also seen the commentary on it at StandFirm. Again, true to form, the "conservatives" there have gone on the attack.

The Akinolists are looking less and less like a movement within the church and more and more like an aptly written Mony Python sketch - something about the dispute between the Peoples' Front of Anglicanism and the Anglican Peoples' Front.

Doorman-Priest said...

You can't just invite yourself however important you think you are.

I'm with Joseph

Malcolm+ said...

Indeed. Generally speaking, self-invitation is very poor form.

And certainly insisting on your invitation once the host makes it clear it isn't convenient shows no class whatsoever.

Lisa Fox said...

Well said, Malcolm+. You make good points, and you write in a way that's delightful to read. Thank you.