Thursday, August 31, 2006

So what's up with the Archbishop of Canterbury?

"So what's up with +Rowan?" is a question I've been getting in various shapes for forms for months but there's been a definite upswing since the interview published in Nederlands Dagblad has gotten such a wide press response ... at least in part because the conservative bloggers & tabloidists have been applying the same methodology to +Rowan's interview as they do to certain biblical texts and headlining conclusions based on their own proof texting.

I do recommend that you read the whole interview -- linked above -- to put all the "texts in context." But enough about that. Once we've read it for ourselves, what ARE we to make of what's up with Canterbury? Rather than blather on about it myself I'm recommending Jake's once-again-excellent reflections found at Father Jake Stops the World.

You'll want to read the whole essay, but for those itching to get on the road for their Labor Day Weekend, here's the "Clif Notes Version":

So what is going on? Has Rowan changed his mind?

I don't think so. I think the key quote from the interview is this segment; "As Archbishop I have a different task. I would feel very uncomfortable if my Church would say: this is beyond discussion, for ever. Equally I have to guard the faith and teaching of the Church. My personal ideas and questions have to take second place."

Dr. Williams has decided to hold the center, at any cost, it appears. No doubt he considers this his pastoral duty. Unfortunately, because of the extremism of the Global South and a small contingent within TEC, the center has shifted more to the right. The center now shares more with the purists than it does with the message of the Gospel. It appears to me that Dr. Williams has taken a consequentialist approach in resolving his ethical dilemma, seeking the greatest good for the greatest number.

In so doing, most likely he will lose the Episcopal Church as well as all gay and lesbian Christians and their supporters currently within the Anglican Communion. No doubt he has considered the cost and is willing to pay it for the sake of unity. I would not want to be in Dr. Williams' shoes right now.

I recognize how difficult the decision to adopt this stance was for him to make. But that does not keep the deontologist within me from reminding the Archbishop that some things are always right, and some things are always wrong, regardless of the greater good. Achieving unity on the backs of your gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is wrong.

Even if we are abandoned by Canterbury to fend for ourselves, the Episcopal Church will continue to proclaim the radically inclusive love of the living God. We will not reject that calling.

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