Monday, September 28, 2009

Pierre Whalon on Rowan Williams's Daft Idea

The Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe has a new blog post in which he comments on the current process towards a so-called Anglican Covenant. The phrase "Rowan Williams's Daft Idea" is mine, not Bishop Whalon's. He's far too cerebral and reasonable for that.

Bishop Whalon does point out that, despite the enraged mewlings of the Amer-Anglican right and their fellow travellers in the UK, the Episcopal Church has been far more deeply and intentionally attentive to the Covenant process than most other Provinces. He also points out that the Covenant is not quite so widely accepted as Cantuar, Dunhelm and others would have us believe. He also, in a nice byblow, points out the Orwellian pretensions of "Three Guys with a Website," AKA the Anglican Communion Institute.

I repost the whole piece below, but it can also be found at Bishop Whalon's website. I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Whalon a couple of years ago at the American Cathedral in Paris.

(The picture is the bishop's cathedra - the bishop's formal seat, which makes a chuch a cathedral.)

(Looks deucedly uncomfortable. One more reason, in addition to the silly hat, that no sane priest should aspire to be a bishop.)

Covenant, shmovenant?

People continue to go back and forth about the proposed
Anglican covenant, perhaps more so (if possible) since Archbishop Williams' July 27 essay, Communion, Covenant, and Our Anglican Future, in which he commented on the actions of General Convention. The upshot of Cantuar's piece is that a Covenant is desperately needed if there is to be an Anglican Communion, that is, a “theologically coherent 'community of Christian communities'.”

More recently, a group of Episcopal scholars, along with the Bishop of Durham, has opined that the 2009 General Convention has already rejected the Covenant, particularly in Resolution D025—brushing aside the last (and in rhetoric, the most important) paragraph that acknowledges continuing disagreement among Episcopalians on how to fully include gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. This piece seems to deploy a “hermeneutic of deep suspicion”—that is, if they say one thing, they really mean the contrary. Up means down, right means get the picture.

Let’s all try to remember D020. Convention 2009 asked all the dioceses to consider carefully a Covenant draft which is still not out yet. And participation in the Covenant process is crucial to developing a deeper Anglican identity, even if that identity does not, in the end, pass through this particular document.

Furthermore, I remember distinctly Bishop Zerubbabel Katsuichi Hirota of Kita Kanto diocese of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai saying to the Lambeth Indaba group I was in that the Japanese bishops had caucused, and would not sign a covenant, because that word can only mean "contract" in their language and culture. The Bishop of Hong Kong immediately rose to say his province has the same issue. Going back to Lambeth Indaba, the “minutes” of the Lambeth Conference 2008, Section J has a set of pros and cons that continues to be relevant. [*] An Anglican Covenant by Norman Doe, recording all comments made up to June 2008, is still worth reading in this regard, and is instructive in finding out what people elsewhere are saying. (See here for a review of that book, among other

So other provinces may or may not accept a Covenant, for reasons other than the perceived orneriness of Episcopalians. Nevertheless, The Episcopal Church is the province that has participated the most fully in the Covenant process so far, and I think we are already the better for it. We need to see it through. More scholarly reflection, as well as further collections of conversations at the grass roots, would be useful. The Anglican Communion may not be more “theologically coherent” at the end of the process, but we will surely have a better handle on the challenges of Anglican ecclesiology—and that ain’t about sex.

Even more importantly, the relational matrix that the Communion is now will be deepened. Or, if you will, we will have a little more insight into how to obey the Lord’s command that we (Anglicans) love one another as he has loved us. Who knows—we might even become a little more obedient...

[* Reading the Indaba text yet again, I saw this remark by my friend, the late Ian Cundy, sometime Bishop of Peterborough, and heard his wise voice again: “Our modality is historically the “bishop-in-synod” rather than ‘episcopally led and synodically governed’”. He liked to make that point often, and I am glad that the Indaba editors retained it.]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reflections on Ignatieff and Harper

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life:
The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.
One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes,
leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood,
unable to deal with the real world.
The other, of course, involves orcs."
- Kung Fu Monkey
The country would doubtless be a better place had these two yahoos been introduced to Tolkein.
I'm just sayin'.

A little preoccupied

I'm sure you will all forgive me for being a little preoccupied.

Since my dear heart has decided that she is "the Babanator," I must therefore be the Dido.

Here is the happy dido (grandfather) with the most precious grandson that ever there was.

Welcome to the world, Oliver.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ordinary Time

I first saw this poem last year on Tobias Haller's blog. He has posted it again.

Just like last year, he takes my breath away.

September Midday Mass

The tall old priest entered the half-lit sacristy,
fresh from his usual Tuesday morning studies.
The fair-haired acolyte with the bad complexion
was ready, vested, standing in the dimness
quietly. The old priest noticed he was sniffing
and his eyes were red. A failed romance,
he thought; but keeping his own rule on chit-chat
in the sacristy, vested silently.
The old familiar motions and the prayers
displaced whatever thoughts he might have had;
the only dialogue to break the stillness was
the rote exchange of formal preparation.

Then, in one motion as he slipped his hand
beneath the pale green veil, the other hand
upon the burse, he lifted vested vessels,
turned and followed in the sniffing server’s
wake. Eyes lowered to the holy burden
in his hand, he failed to notice that
the chapel for this midday feria —
on other days like this with one or two
at most — was full of worshippers; until
he raised his eyes, and saw the pews were filled —
but undeterred began the liturgy:
the lessons and the gospel from last Sunday,
his sermon brief, but pointed, on the texts.

It wasn’t till the acolyte began
the people’s prayers, and choked out words of planes
that brought a city’s towers down, and crashed
into the Pentagon, and plowed a field
in Pennsylvania, that the old priest knew
this was no ordinary Tuesday in
September —
not ordinary time at all,
that day he missed the towers’ fall.

Align RightTobias Stanislas Haller BSG
first posted on March 8, 2008

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The same lies

There are more than a few Canadians watching the bizarre and lunatic antics of health reform opponents in the US and feeling a mite smug.

We shouldn't. The lies being told there are roughly the same as the lies that were told here in 1962. The following video is an excerpt from Prairie Giant, a movie about former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas. The clip covers the introduction of Medicare in Saskatchewan and the blackmail and lies that were used to oppose it - the same blackmail and lies we now see in the US.

The lies about "state medicine," the lies about cameras in examining rooms - all of these things happened as depicted here. And I can confirm from the personal account of members of the Woodrow Lloyd family that the threats against his children were real as well.

Beating bullies means standing up to them. Here's one American who's doing just that.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The radical extremism of the "conservatives"

The Guardian has launched a series on the future of conservative Anglicanism. Given that the first article focussed on Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola and, to a lesser extent, the now thankfully former Bishop of Rochester (UK) Michael Nazir-Ali, I suspect the series will be more focussed on the irreconcilable extremists who tart themselves up as conservatives.

In fact, the very first essay in the series makes the very clear case that there is nothing the least bit conservative about this lot of rabble-rousers. Real conservatism, by definition, seeks to conserve. Akinola, Nazir-Ali, Duncan, Harvey et all seek, not to consereve but to destroy. And, as The Guardian's Savi Hensman makes clear, they do it the good old fashioned way, by scapegoating those who are different - with LGBTQ folk and Muslims at the top of the list.

That's right. The radical right wing figure they need to move on from preaching hatred of LGBTQs, so they've started to preach the hatred of Muslims.

It is all too easy to project evil on to another group, harder to acknowledge that it may be found in one's own community and self. In the Gospels Jesus urges his followers not to be so fixed on the speck in someone's else's eye that they do not notice the log in their own, and warns of evil thoughts in the human heart which, if unchecked, may result in harming others. This does not mean that injustice should not be resisted, but regarding people as good or bad simply on the basis of religion or ideology is risky.

Many Anglicans, including moderate conservatives, are too conscious of their own need to be delivered "from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness" (in the words of the Litany) to be attracted by the simplistic approach of the radical reformers who misleadingly call themselves "conservatives" or "traditionalists". Their campaigning has to some extent paid off. Yet, in the longer term, many Anglicans in the UK and elsewhere will hold on to values which are at odds with those of the conservatives striving to reshape the communion.

Let me be clear - there are lots of people who are conservative on the presenting issue and on other issues of theology and praxis who do not engage in this radical scapegoating. Many of these are understandably embarrassed by the antics of the extremist pretendy conservatives.

After all, who would not be embarrassed by that evil man, the Primate of Nigeria and Bishop of Abuja who refuses to condemn an attack in which 660 Muslims were murdered in a two day rampage, mosques and houses burned to the ground, women and girls raped.

"Let no Muslim think they have a monopoly on violence" hardly seems a sufficient response.

The real Jesus disapproves of rape and murder.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible

We learned this morning that Baba died during the night.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

O God, the maker and redeemer of all,
grant us, with your servant Mary
and all the faithful departed,
the sure benefits of your Son's saving passion
and glorious resurrection;
that in the last day,
when you gather up all things in Christ,
we may with them enjoy the fulness of your promises;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This time I really mean it

This refers to Canada's political crisis, where the opposition leader is pretending he's grown a spine. The image works as well for certain irreconcilables in the Anglican world who keep assuring us that the entire Communion is about to expel the North Americans.