Anglican imaginations run wild

After yesterday’s Daily Episcopalian essay by Frank M. Turner, the blog-landscape was buzzing with responses, applauds, critiques, hand-wringing, and much good thought, all in all.


Read Frank M. Turner’s Daily Episcopalian essay (again), The Imagined community of the Anglican Communion. And be sure to read the comments posted below his essay.

And here are (but a few) responses from Anglican blog-land:

Lionel Deimel argues against an Anglican Covenant based in part on misunderstandings between Anglicans about what the Anglican Communion is, and is not, “Why no Anglican Covenant, Part 1″

“Diversity within the Communion should actually be seen as a strength, rather than a weakness. The Virginia Report acknowledges this on one hand—“[e]ach Province has something distinctive to offer the others, and needs them in turn to be able to witness to Christ effectively in its own context”—and then immediately speculates whether the Communion can maintain its moral authority without enforcing a uniform orthodoxy. There is, I think, a certain amount of papal envy among Anglican primates, including the present Archbishop of Canterbury. The world does not need another Roman Catholic Church, however. We have one already, and most Episcopalians believe that is already one too many.”

Mark Harris at Preludium blog, paraphrasing John Lennon, writes: “Imagine there’s no AC, it’s not hard to do”

From StClements blog: “The Anglican Communion is a Myth”

“I can live happily without an Anglican Communion and will happily see it disappear if it means that I can disown the Archbishop of Sydney who denounces the Mass as a blasphemous fable, or the Archbishop of Nigeria who says that homosexuals are lower than swine, and supports laws punishing them by imprisonment. Not to mention the hypocritical Bishops, clergy and laity of our own Episcopal Church who are divorced and remarried, but say that they oppose women priests and our one (honest) gay Bishop because such things are contrary to the Word of God – by which they mean the Bible, not the real Word of God who was made flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Bryan Owen at CreedalChristian blog writes: “Trashing the Anglican Communion”

“Despite the morally distasteful fact that his essay uses LGBT persons as a means to the end of justifying American ecclesial independence, Mr. Turner’s frontal assault on the very idea of Anglican catholicity as a form of false consciousness at least has the merit of clearly and decisively answering the question raised by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in his 2006 statement The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: “Are we prepared to work at a common life which doesn’t just reflect the interests and beliefs of one group but tries to find something that could be in everyone’s interest – recognising that this involves different sorts of costs for everyone involved?” ”

Also some good comments posted at Thinking Anglicans after they posted an excerpt.

And what about you, what do you think? Is the Anglican Communion real, imaginary, or something else entirely?

Category : The Lead

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One Comment
  1. I was grateful to read Frank Turner’s description and found it a powerful interpretative tool. So I was puzzled to see readers take ‘imagined’ to be a derogatory or dismissive term when attached to community. I don’t think Turner (or Anderson) intend it that way at all. It’s descriptive and the power of the description is that it’s accurate.

    So until reading Turner’s piece yesterday I hadn’t heard Anderson’s term, “imagined community,” but it made immediate good sense, not as a way of dismissing nations (or the Anglican communion) but acknowledging the difference between direct experience of a neighborhood or village or parish church and the creative power (making something that wasn’t there before) of our thinking of extended communities that no one ever experiences (except glimpsed and connecting the dots).

    I do hear how ‘imaginary’ suggests make-believe, but Turner isn’t suggested that’s what’s happening in imagining a communion.

    ‘Imagined’ implies the work of envisioning and then the power of language to shape behavior as we live into a reality we ‘know’ but can’t touch. Imagination is a creative act. It connects things that aren’t connected.

    At the most fundamental level even hearing a melody is an imaginative act – living into a pleasurable tension we ourselves create by remembering an unfolding of moments of hearing and sensing the possibilities what we have heard open up.

    I find ‘imagined community’ enlightening as we think about the two European pioneers in making nation-states (Anderson’s original use of the term). Because they’re so important both religious and politically, the foundational experiments in nation-making, Elizabeth’s England and Ferdinand and Isabella’s Catholic Spain provoke us to consider how we’re imagining community and what difference it makes – whether in American politics or global Anglicanism.

    Both Spain and England imagined societal and legal coherence would demand some kind of religious unanimity (an imagining that got replaced by another imagining in the American Bill of Rights), but Spain imagined unity as an expression of doctrine (Spain instituting the Inquisition in 1492) and England as an expression of a practice of shared prayer (Elizabeth’s unity of one Prayer Book and legal requirement of sacramental practice of baptism and marriage in the state church for participation in the rights of citizenship).

    ‘Imagined community’ is exactly the work Episcopalians are engaged in when we say that the bishop at the center of the diocese is the real local expression of church. No one (not even the bishop) ever sees this ‘reality,’ not even at the token gathering of a diocesan convention. And when know that we’re deliberately imagining something, we can ask what possibilities our particular imagining may offer us.

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