Question for the day:

Let’s begin the day with a bit of conversation:

If Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury decides that the Anglican Communion should become a two-track enterprise, with those churches that assent fully to whatever it is he wants them to assent to being allowed full use of the pool and weight room, while those churches that are historically Anglican, but unwilling to offer the necessary assents, being confined to the smoking lounge and the men’s grill,

and if, the Episcopal Church is so confined

a) what difference will it make in practice?

b) do you care?

c) will anyone outside the Communion care?

and d) Does it feel to you sometimes as though we are writing rules for membership in a tennis club in a city that is on fire?

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Category : The Lead

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  1. Peter Pearson

    On a day to day basis it would probably mean very little. But it matters because by creating this system the ABC would be acting like a pope and making unilateral rules after the game had already started. That may be his right but it is not the way TEC makes decisions. That’s the sort of thing that has started many a revolution but maybe the revolution has already begun.

    Another question is whether we would have to share the smoking lounge with the Southern Cone, Nigeria, and Uganda or is it reserved only for liberals?

  2. paigeb

    1. None.

    2. I used to. But the AC has become like an abusive spouse, and our relationship like a dysfunctional marriage. We (TEC) keep getting abused and then we plead for more. We are begging for love from someone who is incapable of giving it. I’m done with that.

    3. The only people outside the Communion who will care are the vultures like Rick Warren, who appears to be drawn to “Baptists in drag” and the RCC, which will likely pick up some new converts (and will probably come to regret it, since the schismatics are not too big on central authority when they aren’t running the show…).

    4. Absolutely. Jesus weeps.

    Paige Baker

  3. dutchfox

    Thanks, Jim, for this.

    I was at a community meeting in Burlington, VT on Monday and chatted briefly with the dean of our cathedral about the Anglican covenant. I mentioned to him that I was against it and his reply was that it was so “unAnglican” to form a sort of Anglican curia. It doesn’t matter that much to me in the final analysis, I told him. I’ll just continue to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind and continue to live the Baptismal covenant locally. That’s where it’s at for me: working for social justice in Burlington, VT.

    Remember “The Power of Their Glory: America’s Ruling Class-The Episcopalians”? It was a terrible one dimensional book, published 30 years ago (!). In it Episcopalians were called “Episcocrats,” and the book’s focus was on the influence our denomination had on American politics and history (Republican party at prayer, and all that). I don’t think it’s the case anymore, thankfully. But with all this covenant talk coming out of Lambeth Palace, we sure have “Anglicrats” trying to pull their weight in the Communion!

  4. dutchfox

    Oops, sorry… the above post was by me, Jay Vos. Apologies (I always forget to give my full name.)

  5. Well if confined to the “men’s grill” I am out of both groups. The whole thing is symptomatic of people trying to protect their turf in a changing time – the world does not care nor do I. Women are connecting without help from on high (see cuts to budgets in TEC and lack of access to power elsewhere) – doing ministry with each other and for the world. We know how to organize for action while ABC and the 7 fly around the world doing nothing.

  6. Adam Spencer

    “Does it feel to you sometimes as though we are writing rules for membership in a tennis club in a city that is on fire?”

    Couldn’t have put it better if I tried.

  7. 1. No, it won’t make much difference at the local level. A few parishioners will, for a while, feel some loss of prestige perhaps; but the sense of prestige was projection in the first place.

    2. I care to the extent that it makes it harder for us to provide resources to those in need abroad. I imagine different opportunities will present themselves.

    3. Well, perhaps Rome cares, which in itself argues against more centralization. Most outside the Communion will, I think, see this as some corporate restructuring with new labels on the doors, but little substantive change.

    4. I’d say it’s more like arguing over membership in a hunting lodge as the rest of the world becomes engrossed in (and perhaps enslaved by) “American Idol.” The world around us isn’t coming to an end; but we risk seriously losing touch with it.

    Marshall Scott

  8. Michael Lockaby

    (a) Very little.

    (b) Sort of. I like koinonia — and the more people involved, the better. The ABC himself has written this a number of times. On the other hand, I’m really uncomfortable with the ABC’s high and rather sacerdotal theology. We got rid of the Pope 500 years ago, and good riddance. I think the ABC should be held at a bit of an arm’s length, at least, until he (or his successor) gets over this spate of popery.

    (c) Not sure about “anyone.” In the US? Not really. We’d get a few converts, but that’s all. It might have an effect on the ability of the AC to have a prophetic voice in other countries, though.

    (d) Of course. The world needs Jesus. We’re too busy fighting over ecclesiology. It’s plainly stupid.

    However, I question your premise: Although I’m against the Covenant on principle, I don’t think as a practical matter we should have any difficulty signing on with its current language. It’s so noodly as to be meaningless. And I’m not sure how we could be excluded if GenCon decided we wanted to be part of it, without the AC looking awfully babyish.

  9. Matthew Buterbaugh+

    a)In practice, it will make little difference on the ground. If you work in a parish with a large immigrant contingency like mine, it might make a great difference. In other parishes, few people will notice. On an international / ecumenical level, it will matter who represents the Anglican Communion.

    b)I very much care. Why should we set a precedent to make major structural changes over a short-sighted single issue that undoubtedly won’t matter in 50 years. It also tears at the fabric of communion, and the very body of Christ, which we Christians seem to do without batting an eye.

    c) Maybe. Our ecumenical partners will possibly care. The more evangelical side of Christianity might hold it up as some kind of divine righteousness, and the progressive side will say it’s why religion is problematic. If s/he even notices, the average Jane and Joe on the street will just see this as more fighting in another Christian denomination that they may or may not care about.

    d)That’s a very good analogy, and one that seems to apply on many levels to all denominations.

  10. Lou

    My two-cents worth:

    a) This matters, as it is a “deal breaker.” I’m not the only Episcopalian who is fed up. Paige Baker’s analogy to a disfunctional marriage is spot-on. At some point we, corporately, are going to say “We are not going to play this game any more. Do what you will, but count us out.”

    b) Not as much as I used to care. I care about mission, and arguing about member rights to the tennis club weight room advances mission exactly zero.

    c) No. Nobody outside the “communion” will care. The RC’s won’t care since the womens ordination bridge was crossed a long time ago. The Baptists and Missouri Synod Lutherans won’t care because they’ve made their judgments already.

    d) I think it’s time to declare a moritorium on placating the Right.

    (Editor’s note: Thanks, Lou. We need your name next time.)

  11. I was going to write a brilliant and witty response to your question, Jim, but then I looked at the previous eight comments and realized that they had all said it better than I could!

  12. revsusan

    “Does it feel to you sometimes as though we are writing rules for membership in a tennis club in a city that is on fire?”

    Interesting question — particularly as I’m looking out my window at the Station Fire still raging in the mountains above Pasadena.

    1 — Almost none.

    2 — Less and less every day.

    3 — Nobody whose opinion I find influential.

    4 — Bingo.

    It does seem to me that articulating a “two track” reality is different that imposing a “two tier” system. If we use the railroad track as our model, it takes two rails running parallel to move the train forward … along with numerous “ties that bind” along the way.

    Isn’t +Rowan really saying that there’s room under the Anglican tent for different ways of living out the gospel in our different contexts and isn’t that what we’ve been arguing for all along? It seems to me that if we’re convinced the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice then moving forward along whatEVER “track” we’re on is moving foward into God’s future.

    Susan Russell — speaking for herself, personally

  13. a) Perhaps a great deal. I am in a conservative diocese, and we are in the process of electing a new bishop. It depends on the loyalty of our new bishop to TEC.

    b) I care, because more division in the Body of Christ does not seem a good thing.

    c) Probably not.

    d) Yes!

    June Butler

  14. tobias haller

    I think the questions have been answered well. But let me point out that there is no pool, nor weight room, and Rowan meant what he said when he referred to this as “two styles” of being Anglican. Both will be Anglican — one in the traditional way with the emphasis on provincial autonomy and ad hoc cooperation; the other in the new-fangled quasi-world-church, called that in spite of doing precious little about the state of the world other than mooning after the church of Rome.

    Does that sound cynical. Perhaps; it’s been a long day.


    A) I agree it will make very little difference here at home. On the other hand, this is an invitation to TEC to be the scapegoat if I ever saw one. One day acceptance of that role will matter, very much.

    B) I care, but not because there’s anything lovable about the AC these days! I care because I think we are capable of doing better; also because we’re totally capable of something worse… I agree we’re in an abusive relationship, and we should remove ourselves from it by refusing the bait; the Anglican Covenant.

    C) I suspect that outside the AC, as is true inside the AC, only those with a power agenda and an interest in marginalizing those in any way “different” will really care.

    D) Correct. Our time is better spent in ministry. As someone else noted, opportunities will present themselves.

    I’m not sure it it’s even worth the time to discuss and stand against the proposed covenant. I AM sure I would never sign the thing, nor be pleased if our deputies & Bishop signed it. I don’t think I could be part of any conglomeration that had the Covenant as its bylaws. One can only pray for that Forlorn Hope, better leadership.

    Cheryl Mack

  16. a. As a missionary of TEC serving in IARCA (Anglican Church in the Region of Central America), it may make some difference in practice, although the province in which I serve is part of Global Center and not the Global South or Global North. I guess it would all depend on IARCA’s reaction.

    b. I’ve self-identified as a member of global Anglicanism, so I do care, to a point. For me, it is more important to be working to bring about the Reign of God rather than worrying about a two-track enterprise, but I do worry about how it would affect those of us serving as mission-partners throughout the Communion.

    c. I’m not particularly worried about whether people outside of the Communion care. Do I really want to do ecumenical work with Churches who believe in excluding my GLBT sisters and brothers? No, not at all.

    d. Yes. And it makes me sad.

  17. A.) Initially, perhaps none. In the coming years, it will make a great deal of difference because we will lose the moorings of our identity and lose our significance and our influence for the sake of those who have little voice both in the U.S. and throughout the world. The reality is that as we have declined in membership and as our focus has become so myopic and insular, we have lost any real influence within our own culture and in those parts of the Communion where our grating yet important voice/influence is most needed. If we become “just another denomination in the U.S.,” then the loss of influence and significance will only increase.

    B.) Absolutely, I care. I certainly don’t agree with the schismatics and those who refuse to reconsider the Church’s traditional interpretation of Scripture with regard to same-sex relationships, but I also don’t agree with those who are so attached to current socio-political agendas that they, too, would rather break away from the larger body to suit their own agendas.

    We are losing a very significant aspect of Anglicanism – as iron sharpens iron, so balance in faith and perspective is maintained. If the more “conservative” groups are no longer part of TEC, then TEC becomes lopsided and unbalanced in belief and practice. If the more “liberal” TEC is not part of the Communion, then the Communion becomes lopsided and unbalanced. Both lose an essential aspect of being world-Anglicans. Do we really want to “think and act” globally, or only if the rest of the globe thinks and does just want we think they should think or do?

    C.) Probably not. Any one who deals with younger people knows that we have already so maimed our witness that few pay any attention to us, already. If the world (particularly non-Christian) looks at us and finds that we are acting no differently than the socio-political culture of our time, why should they consider this Church to have anything of significance to add. If they don’t see the imago Dei, but American cultural hubris and antagonism, why should they bother giving us a listen or consideration? They already don’t care, primarily because we – both liberals and conservatives – are acting just like the world.

    D.) Yes, and it is occurring among both liberals and conservatives! This is the thing: too many of those who are claiming to be liberal are acting just like too many of those who are claiming to be conservative. One group just happens to be against TEC and what it seems to be standing for at the moment, while the other group happens to be against the Communion and what it seems to be standing for at the moment. Both groups are schismatics – one to a local Church and one to the global Communion. Neither group can get around the other or eject or separate ourselves from the other without losing something vital in being “Anglican.”

  18. Michael Russell

    Good comments, one and all.

    1) It makes no difference to me or my parish or really my Diocese, in daily practice whether we are 1st or 2nd track. This is for the entertainment of the fissiparous among us.

    2) I think it is important we BID for the second tier as a witness against the growing desire to exclude glbt folks altogether from ordained or lay leadership positions (this is the African practice with respect to polygamy). We need to be clear that the sort of exclusion now favored by the ++ABC and +Durham is totally unacceptable to us, so if that means second tier so be it.

    Please remember that in much of the Communion women clergy are still not welcome and we have been in impaired communion with parts of the WWAC for decades.

    3) Outside the communion I think it will make TEC more inviting to be distinct from the homomisanthropes.

    4) They are not making rules for a tennis club they are making rules for a Klan.

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