What #AnglicanRulesForTwitter says about Anglicans

How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?
Ten. One to call the electrician, and nine to say how much they liked the old one better.

On Friday, Elizabeth Drescher writes, #AnglicanRulesForTwitter was born.

Inspired by Roman zeal for a digital claim to spiritual identity, I wondered to my Twitter followers if we might take up TEC (Episcopal) Rules for Twitter. Bosco Peters, an Kiwi Anglican priest and liturgist of great digital renown suggested that we might broaden the conversation to #AnglicanRulesForTwitter, and we were off (slowly, mind; we’re only 10% of the Catholics…):

When 3 or 4 Anglicans Tweet, a 5th is sure to follow. (@ranknut)
Tweets shall be a sign of inward and outward spiritual grace. (@ricap)
Anglican cycle of tweets determined by standing committee on twiturgy (@edrescherphd)
Per Occasional Services, bishops consulted first in tweets concerning exorcism (@fathertorey)
High Twitter is my Twitter, Low Twitter is no Twitter! (@pcstokell)
"In the sweet by and by, we shall tweet on that beautiful shore." (Lift Every Ban and Tweet) (@neilwillard)
'oh Lord open thou our app, and our tweets shall show forth thy praise' (@zephyc)....

In the meantime, I’m fascinated by the way these trends are expressing and shaping denominational identity in digital space and generating sly ecumenical exchange. It seems to me that various denominational RulesForTwitter are functioning along the lines of those old light bulb jokes that regularly pop up in sermons and church newsletters. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say about what all this might mean at the intersection of religion and new media, and I hope you’ll tweet your own denominational rule as I mull it over. [emphasis mine]

Drescher's making a lot of sense here. Every group (/denomination) needs a way of self-identifying that promotes positive self-image, or at least the ability to skewer in a way that says, "I kid because I love, so I'm not going to get too personal or go strictly on the attack." Put another way, the inability to take big belly laughs at oneself may be the first sign that one needs a hobby, or to get out a little more often.

If that all seems too obvious, maybe this next part won't be. As a participant in this mini-meme, I found it a delight to work on as I ran through the catalog of what makes Anglicans unique and therefore worth highlighting/tweeting about. I saw too much of myself in some places, maybe not enough in others. I also had to admit that I might have been speaking for all Anglicans when what I was attempting to express, through (often fairly lame) humor, was actually The Episcopal Church as I have come to understand it - one constituent member of a much larger enterprise. And even then, not nearly The Episcopal Church in its entirety, but the relatively small slice of it that I've known over the years bumming around in just three dioceses out of TEC's many dioceses.

I wondered, too: if a little insignificant humor sheds this kind of light, how could an Anglican Covenant ever possibly hope to speak completely for the beautiful mess that is global Anglicanism? Isn't comprehensiveness one of the things for which we strive? And as such, isn't the conversation about self-identity always still forming in our hearts, minds, and spirits? Isn't Anglicanism an inherently unfinished idea? And isn't that part of what makes it so unique among Christians?

Comments (2)

My thought of the moment about the messiness of Anglicanism is that we're really no more messy than anyone else: our church just began to learn to embrace it earlier than most. As we've moved forward with that idea, we've come--or many of us have come--to see messiness as a strength rather than a deficit. I realize many African bishops would not think so, but that's part of the messiness. However badly they may want gays excluded from the church, for example, I've learned enough to know that though they cannot "in conscience' welcome me, I'd be a fool to marginalize their voices. After all, African Anglican Christians are a legitimate part of the Anglican enterprise, forcing on me the acceptance that they're part of the Body of Christ with a voice and an experience I can learn from.

Back to messiness, or the question, "Is Anglicanism an inherently unfinished idea?" I see the tensions in our Anglican family as a vital marker of what Paul called the Ministry of Reconciliation. As such, Anglicanism can't be "finished" until the ministry of reconciliation is completed.

So don't hold your breath for either.

"...and nine to say how much they liked the old one better."

Even though the old one doesn't actually work any more, of course.

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