Saturday, May 24, 2008

Food Fight Among the Orthodox

Let me say up front that this is very wicked of me. But a food-fight seems to be developing among the schismatics, and I am enjoying it.

The Most Revd Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East wrote a letter announcing he will not be attending GAFCON, but will attend the Lambeth Conference, and explaining his reasons. Make no mistake about it. He blasts the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. He believes we're departing from historic Christianity. But he also blasts the GAFCON crowd for their schismatic actions. It seems to me that he is trying to put the brakes on those who are trying to establish a "faux Anglican" communion. He says he's not going to GAFCon, but will join the Anglican bishops at Lambeth. Good on him! I think this is a person with whom I could worship and converse.

Furthermore, he writes: "I would respectfully add that the Global South must not be driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities." Others have expressed concern that folks from the northern hemisphere seem to be exerting undue pressure in this conflict. It's not just the Americans like Duncan, Iker, etc., or the faux-Anglican "bishops" like Minns, but also the British-born Archbishop Venables of the Southern Cone who are tainted there. It seems to me that some very angry white guys are getting themselves dressed up in African purple to try to destroy the Anglican Communion. I don't know whether +Anis perceives what I perceive, but I sure am grateful for what he wrote.

"BabyBlue" – a.k.a. Mary Ailes (who was part of the "Reagan Revolution" in DC, and is a member of one of the schismatic parishes in Virginia) – thinks that Archbishop Mouneer Anis has "jumped the shark." She's downright hysterical about +Anis's discomfort with the "northern personalities" who seem to be dominating GAFCon and the "Global South." Read her blog, and be sure to read the comments. It astonished me. She takes the +Anis letter as a wholesale repudiation of the schismatic Episcopalians. She seems to feel profoundly betrayed that others in the Anglican Communion aren't coming to rescue the schismatic Episcopalians. Frankly, I hope she's right.

Then StandFirm picked up on her post – since she's an "influential" layperson in the realignment crowd and a friend of the StandFirm crowd. What resulted was a food-fight between her and Sarah "Little Stone Bridges" Hey. Both are notorious for their hatred of the Episcopal Church. Mary is a member of one of the Virginia parishes under Martyn Minns, just sure that she's connected to the Anglican Communion through this irregularly consecrated bishop under the homophobic Archbishop of Nigeria. Sarah is a part of the True Believers at StandFirm who regularly excoriate TEC, but skeptical of the "realignment talk." Both of them love to use apocalyptic language – as if they are engaged in an ultimate fight of Good vs. Evil. They are True Believers.

Now they are engaging in a war on StandFirm, with each of them claiming to be the purer. It's rather funny, in a sad way. I think they both may be seeing their fantasies crumbling. Mary Ailes seems to argue that her "side" are the "true Anglicans" in the U.S. Sarah Hey argues that this is a sign of the deep fracture within the Global South – about those who want a Canterbury-centered communion and those [led by Akinola] who want a "purer" Anglicanism.

It's fascinating to read.

In a recent article in the Christian Century, Jason Byasee documented the splittings and re-splittings of the "orthodox" in their never-ending quest for ever more purity. Chicago Bishop Persell is quoted there as saying: "If you're formed in opposition and negativity, you're bound to keep on splitting—there's always need for more purity, and you don't live with ambiguity very well, so you end up in a church of one."

It seems to me we are seeing the fruits of the "pure" heirs of the Pharisees. May their fruits continue to be manifest.

I wonder whether BabyBlue and StandFirm will keep their discussions online, so that the rest of us can see the fractures within the realignment crowd. It would not surprise me if they took those comments offline.


Blogger Jeremy Bonner said...

One thing I find interesting about your piece is the assumption is that by "Northern agenda" Bishop Anis necessarily implies some sort of imperialistic flaw ("angry white guys") on the part of the American participants in GAFCON. Somehow I rather doubt it.

By contrast, in ANGLICAN COMMUNION IN CRISIS Miranda Hassett explores in great detail how the relationships built up in the eight years since the establishment of AMIA have involved "negotiation" of values and priorities between Northern "schismatics" and their Southern sponsors.

Hassett is a self-described, female anthropologist and liberal Episcopalian, but the picture she paints of the people with whom she interacted - and with whom she disagreed theologically - is remarkably generous in crediting them with Christain virtues.

You can see my review at:

5/26/2008 10:28 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for your comments, Jeremy. But I must disagree with your first paragraph. Look back at my piece; I wrote: "It seems to me that some very angry white guys are getting themselves dressed up in African purple to try to destroy the Anglican Communion. I don't know whether +Anis perceives what I perceive ...." [emphasis added] I don't know what +Anis meant. But I'm intrigued by how some of the reasserters/neo-orthodox are reading it.

BTW, I keep meaning to read the Hassett book. I've heard great things about it.

5/26/2008 1:56 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kaeton said...

To quote - again - my dear, beloved grandmother "Dead wood splinters."

Somebody in the church give her a well-deserved, "Amen."

5/26/2008 8:01 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

OK, Elizabeth: AMEN!

And I see today they're going after their friend Dan Martins. Nothing will please the uber-holy crowd.

5/26/2008 8:59 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home