Friday, August 24, 2007

Actually, we NEED to pay attention to the man behind the curtain!

It just gets curiouser and curiouser! The news -- noted on this blog yesterday, and all over the blogsphere today (titusonenine, Stand Firm, PRELUDIUM, The Episcopal Majority, and Ekklesia to name a few!) that the "Agonizing Journey Letter" sent out by Archbishop Akinola a while back tuns out to be what we might call "deutero-Akinola" (with Martyn Minns' cyber fingerprints all over it) has unleashed quite the flurry of commentary.

The most predictable, of course, were the immediate knee-jerk accusations of racist implications -- which are utter poppycock. NOBODY said Archbishop Akinola wasn't "smart enough" to have written the letter -- what they're saying is the evidence points to the fact that he didn't.

And why does that matter? The most clarifying comment I read this morning in that regard come from Fr. Jake's "Why the Fuss over a Ghostwriter?":

I really didn't think it would be necessary to explain to some folks why it is worth noting that a statement to the Church of Nigeria was authored by a bishop sitting in Virginia. Apparently, the implications are not as obvious as I assumed they would be. What this reveals is what many have suspected for some time; that it is Western conservatives who are behind the extreme positions that are being presented as the position of the Global South.

And there you have it. Have the last ten years been in many ways an "agonizing journey" for Anglicans? You bet they have! But let's give credit where credit is due and that credit goes not go to faithful gay and lesbian people trying to live out their lives and vocations in the context of Christian community. The credit goes to those insisting that "compliance" to their theological perspective is the sole criterion for communion -- that credit goes to the "men behind the curtain."

So forgive us "Dorothys" our moment of glee at the rest of the world glimpsing for a moment the truth we've known for years: this "schism" has been designed, initiated and implemented by those committed to splitting apart the church they have been unsuccessful in recreating in their own image and Martyn Minns is among them.

I'll see Akinola's (or Minns'!) "agony" at having their hermeneutic disagreed with and raise them sacramental apartheid being perpetuated against a percentage of the baptized by an institutional church supposedly committed to being the Body of Christ in the World.

The REAL agony is the scapegoating of the LGBT faithful for a schism manufactured by the "man behind the curtain" and the real tragedy is the work church is NOT doing because it continues to prioritize institutional unity over mission and ministry. It is well past time for us to journey past this impasse. Here's hoping getting one man out from behind the curtain will be a step in that direction.


Anonymous said...

Dear Rev. Russell:

Again the implication and overriding sentiment appears to be that Bp. Akinola is not capable of having his own thoughts and beliefs.
And you liberals accuse us of being "conspiracy theorists?"
I've said enough, but it does all smack completely of racism and paternalism to assume AFricans aren't capable of their own thoughts and beliefs.

A sinner saved by God's Grace

Jim from Michigan

Muthah+ said...

You mean that we aren't in Kansas anymore? Thanks Susan, we DO need to watch those behind the curtains. And while there are still those who feel discomfort with out ministry, we must keep reminding the Church that we not only exist but for all our clicking of our ruby slippers, we keep preaching Christ. We keep reminding people that it is the Way that teach. And despite what the manipulators say, our gifts to the proclamation of the Gospel says more that all their posturing.

I do love our Church. And believe that the Church is beginning to see the light of Christ in all of this because we have exposed the guys behind the curtain for what they are---people who would rather pull strings than live the Gospel. The Wicked Witch is melting!

RonF said...

I really didn't think it would be necessary to explain to some folks why it is worth noting that a statement to the Church of Nigeria was authored by a bishop sitting in Virginia.

Hm. From where I sit, the situation is that a statement from the Archbishop of Nigeria is alleged to have been edited by one of the Archbishop's own Bishops, who is resident in Virginia.

JimB said...

Jim from Michigan,

I think ABp. Akinola is hateful and intelligent enough to write his own letter. I also think he has staff in Nigeria that is intelligent and hateful enough to write it. Notice any white folks in Virginia who don't? You might not want to push the racism cart to far down the road.


JimB said...


It has been over a day now. The file is readily available and shows about 2/3's of the content dripped from Bp. Minns' keyboard. While you and other partisans allege that this is some sort of liberal conspiracy, the principals are silent.


Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Susan. What a perfectly delightful and piquant commentary on "those men behind the curtain."

Anonymous said...

Dear Rev. Russell:

Tut, tut, all this anguish and angst over, as Bp. Schori calls us, "a tiny, insignificant minority."
Me thinks you all protest - and perseverate - a little too much.
You've got your church, you've got your lawsuits, why not just move forward and not worry about the rest.
God will sort this all out in His own good time. Hopefully, we'll all meet in Heaven after following a righteous path.
Just for the record, I grieve over the loss of civility in all this. I DO love my enemies and we pray for you as we pray for ourselves.
Would it be that we all could stop the gloat. It is so very unChristian.
Really, What Would Jesus Do? I don't think it would be to gloat and celebrate our victories and the humiliation of our enemies.
This is all beginning to sound like a high school football game, complete with the derisive cheers from the sidelines.
So have your moment of gloat and revel in the defeat of your enemies, but I'm not sure that Jesus will be patting you on the back for that.
So I ask for your forgiveness in any lack of charity that I have shown and simply wish you Godspeed.

A sinner saved by God's Grace.

Jim from Michigan

cp said...

So have your moment of gloat and revel in the defeat of your enemies...

There is nothing to gloat about, and nothing to even be shocked about. That's the real tragedy.

Merseymike said...

Susan: we undercover lies and duplicity, and of course the far-right have to try and play the race card - they must be desperate!

I couldn't care less what race Akinola is, but I do find his homophobia most unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

Actually, we NEED to pay attention to the man behind the curtain!

No you don't. Whether you crawl all over him, as in this particular matter, or ignore him completely, it won't make the slightest difference in the eventual outcome of this sorry mess except to provide you with someone to scream at when the break becomes official. As someone else wrote here, you've won, the Episcopal Church is yours. Yes, it's too bad about the lawsuits but you will most likely win those and in time get your buildings back (I hope you're able to fill the pews). Akinola and his cohorts will soon be out of your lives. How about showing a little grace by accepting your victory, forgiving and, really and truly, forgetting?

Hadrian the Seventh

Anonymous said...

But tell us why doesn't Akinola employ an African as his ghost writer? We know there are many good African Anglican thinkers and writers in the Church. Why does he have to rely on a white Englishman from America as his scribe? Africans do not understand how he can say he speaks for global South when the mouth is that of the North.

Bateau Master said...

Because when the people of color you accuse feel the attack is racist, then the conversation is over, the attack is racist!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the fuss is about - when I was a manager in the mining industry, I wrote a number of contracts for mining and maintenance contractors, and employment agreements, and other general correspondence. Usually I drafted the original, passed it to my department heads for their comments and editing, or to other professional experts for further editing. But once I signed these documents, I carried responsibility for their contents, so I never signed off on anything I didn't agree with. Noone manipulated me into signing anything I wasn't in full agreement with. Often, not all of the final products were entirely my own work. Is anyone here seriously suggesting that:

1. Bp Minns wrote the entire letter himself and then coerced Abp Akinola into signing it, or

2. that Abp Akinola did not agree with the contents of the letter he personally signed, or

3. that Abp Akinola was manipulated into signing this letter by rich conservatives in North America, or

4. that Abp Akinola is incapable of making up his own mind, and

5. that Bp Schori or even Abp Williams drafts and edits all of their own correspondence without reference to others

Also, has anyone noticed the giant step in logic exhibited in this frenzy over Bp Minns - the original report was that he was involved in editing the Abp Akinola's draft, but now Jake, Mark, yourself, and a cohort of other liberals are suggesting Bp Minns actually wrote the whole lot - where is your evidence for such hyperbolic claims? I guess if you are a liberal you can make any text say anything that suits your agenda with no regard for the truth.

It seems that too many people are looking for conspiracies against ECUSA, when its present troubles are all of its own making.

RonF said...

There's been a response to the allegations in this story. You can read it at Virtue Online. Here is, I think, the core of the relevant part:

According to [The Venerable AkinTunde Popoola, Director of Communications for the Church of Nigeria,], "Archbishop Akinola informed his senior staff and the Episcopal Secretary the need to highlight efforts at maintaining unity and the intransigence of the revisionists so that the Nigerian community is left in no doubt about who is 'walking apart'".

"Along with his PA [personal assistant] in Abuja, work started on the gathering of materials and relevant documents on 6th August, 2007. We used in addition to existing statements and my Internet searches, Nigerian Episcopal meeting documents and TECUSA resolutions supplied respectively by our Episcopal Secretary, the Rt. Rev. Friday Imaekhia and a CANA priest, the Rev. Canon David Anderson. The draft of the statement was ready for correction by the primate on 9th August 2007 who was however unable to correct it as he was about to travel.

"Archbishop Akinola was in the U.S. and Bahamas between 10th and 22nd August 2007. I sent the draft to him through the Rt. Rev. Minns with a request for assistance in getting some online references which I could not easily locate.

"I fail to see any issue if amendments are then made on Bishop Minns' computer. Apart from the fact that they were together during the period of the amendment, the Archbishop like many effective leaders who spend little time glued to a desk often phones me and other staff to write certain things. Such remain his idea and anyone who knows Archbishop Peter Akinola knows you can not make him say what he does not mean."

Remember; Microsoft Word (which I presume is what was used here) keeps a record of under whose ID a change it made to a document. If someone makes a revision using someone else's ID, then it's the ID not the person who shows up in the record. Now, I don't know if Abp. Akinola was in Bp. Minns' office and used his computer or if they consulted over telephone. But either scenario is a different story than the conclusion that Bp. Minns wrote 2/3 of this document, which was jumped to without speaking to Akinola or Minns, it seems by the authors of the stories referenced in the lead to this thread.