From a recent interview with +George Carey in the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
"How we deal with our differences, whether it's the ordination of women or homosexuals or the definition of marriage, will determine how we survive," Carey said. "I think people want instant answers instead of slowing down to study these things."
"Instead of trying to settle everything at breakneck speed, perhaps we'd be better suited to have more face-to-face meetings while trying to figure it out."
While these words of faithful wisdom will not sit well with those determined to make General Convention 2006 the "make or break" moment for the Anglican Communion they should be words of encouragement for those of us striving to balance our call to be both a prophetic and a reconciling church.
The hard truth is the "instant answer" folks would have us be neither -- itching instead for an Anglican version of Survivor's "Tribal Council" primed to vote anyone who doesn't meet their litmus test for orthodoxy off the Anglican Island.
News Flash: What makes for great Reality TV does NOT make for great Anglican polity.
There is no "quick fix" to the complex questions that face us a church, as a communion, as a community of faith and -- as Lord Carey notes -- it is "how we deal with our differences [that] will determine how we survive." If we come up with an Anglican Litmus Test then we might indeed "survive" -- but we would survive as another-of-many confessional churches rather than as the unique incarnation of comprehensiveness that has been our heritage as Anglicans.
Rather, Carey's call for us to "slow down to study" embraces that heritage. It call us to continuing the conversation -- engaging in a listening process -- being willing to stay in relationship with those with whom we disagree: hallmarks of both comprehensiveness and reconciliation. It is a call that is admittedly problematic for those whose criteria for being included is being agreed with but there you go -- there's a point at which I believe the church must refuse to allow its mission to be held hostage by demands for quick fixes -- lines in the sand -- up or down votes. And I think we're at that point.
For in the end how we deal with our differences WILL determine how we survive -- and it seems to me that the tide is turning toward being ready, willing and able to do the hard work we need to do not only to survive but to thrive: to survive without sacrificing our distinctive identity as inheritors of the Anglican ethos and to thrive as bearers of the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made available to all.
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