Friday, May 28, 2010

So what did I think about the Archbishop of Canterbury's "Pentecost Letter"?

In case you missed it, it was posted this morning to the Anglican Communion website. Entitled "The Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost Letter to the Anglican Communion" the first thing that struck me was thatthe explanation provided by the ACNS (Anglican Communion News Service) of what the Archbishop said in the letter preceded the letter itself.

"Hmmm ..." I thought. "That's a bit curious. Isn't it usually the other way around?"

And then I read the letter.

It's "dense" in a classic Rowanesque kind of way, but Matthew Davies offers a good "nutshell' overview in his ENS feature:
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is proposing that representatives currently serving on some of the Anglican Communion's ecumenical dialogues should resign their membership if they are from a province that has not complied with moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.
Lots of smart people have said many smart things already. Mark Harris provides thoughtful commentary in his Thoughts on the ABC's Pentecost Letter and Elizabeth Kaeton hit several nails on the head with her Just say no.

Arguably my favorite commentary was by Mad Priest, who offered this picture worth multiple-thousand words:

So what do I think? I think it's ironic that this "Pentecost Letter" was issued while the Archbishop of Canterbury is in Washington DC leading a conference called "Building Bridges" and focused on building interfaith bridges between Christians and Muslims. (I'm tempted to say something about the similarities between people on glass bridges and people in glass houses but will leave that alone for now.)

I think one Facebook Friend got it exactly right when he wrote: "And of all of this in a Pentecost letter, enshrining the differences that undo our unity during the season which is about the Holy Spirit bringing unity in difference, with specific reference to ecumenism, which is the Holy Spirit acting to counteract our tendencies to disunity."

But most of all I think it's like +Rowan is emeshed in a game of blind man's bluff.

Blind man's bluff: One player, designated as "It", is blindfolded and gropes around attempting to touch the other players without being able to see them, while the other players scatter and try to avoid the person who is "it", hiding in plain sight and sometimes teasing them to make them change direction.
The problem is not just that it's pretty stupid, non productive game ... the problem is while +Rowan is groping around everybody else has lost interest and are off playing other games altogether.

To continue the riff from my "King of Love or King of the Hill" blog last week, some Anglicans are off playing LEGOS ... not only building the kingdom in their own context, but working to connect their bits and pieces with brother and sister Anglicans around the globe.

Elsewhere, other Anglicans are determined to win at King of the Hill or die trying -- beating each other up with doctrine and dogma and reports and resolutions ... absolutely convinced that they have Sole Possession of the Absolute Truth and busy knocking each other off the hill to prove it.

MEANWHILE vast numbers of folks who might have had some interest in or attraction to what historic Anglican comprehensiveness offers as a way of building community and living out the Gospel have left the playground altogether and have gone off to Starbucks -- and who can bloody blame them?

So there you have it. The latest episode of "As the Anglican World Turns." Stay tuned next week ... when maybe, just maybe, the ABofC will cast off the ridiculous blindfold, call "game over" and offer some vision and leadership toward actually proclaiming the good news of God in Christ Jesus equally available to ALL people to a world in desperate need of it.

Or not.


WarrenSensei said...

I wonder how many "Southern Cone" provinces and churches +Rowan will "suggest" resign due to continued cross-border interventions?

Actually following through with these threats with the slightest bit of integrity would be the shattering blow to the Communion then.

Rev. David Justin Lynch said...

The Episcopal Church should "just say No" to +++ Williams. Just "No," without explanation. What he forgets is the Anglican Communion does not have a pope. Letters like these illustrate why we don't and why even if it did, it should not be him.

The Very Rev. Daniel B. Brown said...

Thanks for picking up on the ironies in ABC's pitiful attempt at leadership(?). Without irony there is little else in his letter, only delivered on the Feast of Pentecost and not penned in its spirit. Most of what he has written is an insult to THE Holy Spirit and those of us willing to trust in a future that we will not force on others but believe we are called to represent.
In Georgia we say -- way too often -- "bless his heart" whenever someone spoils the moment so poorly that all you can think to credit him with is sincerity.
I was drawn to this Church under the banner of "Unity in Diversity." It seems like a bad dream now to see actions as out of touch as Rowan's.

uffda51 said...

While reading a story about Texas and textbooks, I came across this excerpt from the Cornerstone Speech made by Alexander Stephens, the vice-president of the Confederacy, on March 21, 1861. With remarkable candor, Stephens pointed out that whereas the United States was founded on the idea, enshrined in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal," the new Confederacy was founded on the opposite conception:

"The prevailing ideas entertained by [Thomas Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically ... Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."

The opponents of repeal of DADT and the Anglican/Episcopal schismatics share the view that heterosexuals are “superior” to LGBT persons and claim that they alone possess “physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” These same people will scream that any comparisons between the slavery issue and LGBT equality are unfair because skin color is not a choice, but can provide no evidence that sexual orientation is a choice. Stephens and the Confederacy were wrong. The Family Research Council crowd is wrong. The schismatics are wrong. DADT is wrong. And if the ABC thinks that some kind of moratorium is the answer, than he doesn’t understand the question.