Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rowan Puzzles Me

I have read and re-read Archbishop Rowan Williams' "presidential address" at Lambeth. I am reminded me of the times when I graded English papers and had to say "A good effort, but it doesn't hold together." I appreciate what he tried to do.

Here's the thing that struck me today.

Rowan tries to cast the Anglican Communion as a family:

Some have expressed unhappiness about the ‘legalism’ implied in a covenant. But we should be clear that good law is about guaranteeing consistence and fairness in a community; and also that in a community like the Anglican family, it can only work when there is free acceptance.
"Free acceptance"? What kind of "free acceptance" does he see within this Anglican Communion? All I hear is people from the "right" calling us heretics, and people from the "left" asking for more forbearance.

What is Archbishop Williams' solution? How does he want to reform the Anglican Communion, tie the bonds more tightly? How does he want to bind us more closely to one another? By slamming a legal system onto the Anglican Communion, by enforcing a juridical covenant upon the Communion, by enforcing a code of legalism on the Anglican Communion. He wants to take the Windsor Report and move it up to the status of Holy Writ.

Sorry, but I'm not buying it.

Is this guy bipolar or something?

Maybe that's how things work in Rowan Williams' family, but it's not how it works in my family. In my family, I have a lot of people whom I don't much like. But we are family. It never once occurred to me that we should establish a written, legal document to govern our interactions.

No. We muddle along, trusting the family bonds.

I appreciate what Rowan Williams tried to say and do in his "presidential address." But I believe he has completely missed the point. His response to the "family dispute" is to establish a hateful legal contract. I think he correctly framed the dispute. But I believe he is totally, completely, and fatally missing the mark when he tries to suggest a solution. He rightly sees we are having a family feud. But he is completely off the mark, and he reveals his paternalism, when he tries to suggest that the solution is a legal contract that will send the scapegoats off into the wild.

So near ... and yet so far.


Blogger Ann said...

Stephen Lane is also worried by Rowan here

7/29/2008 11:26 PM  
Blogger Laura Toepfer said...

The thing that still bothers me most about the presidential address is that the way ++Williams presents the "not so traditional" view isn't what I feel or think at all. There are parts that resemble my feelings, but overall I don't think he accurately captures MY viewpoint, anyway. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think so.

I don't know what it feels like from the traditional point of view, and so I'd be curious to hear if ++Williams does represent what folks are feeling.

But it's hard to take his suggestions when he doesn't even seem to understand the problem. I don't feel like an innovator. I don't feel like I am pushing any boundaries. I am not trying to "speak to the culture and context;" I am responding to actual flesh and blood people.

And I resent the message that our actions "have caused so much trouble." What that says to me is that, no matter what ++Williams says, deep down he really does think that it is one side that has made things so messy and complicated.

All right, I'm ranting now. But I found the Archbishop's message wanting.

7/30/2008 10:37 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Yes - it has made thing messy and complicated - but only if you think it was better all swept under the carpet and into the closet. Jesus often made things messy and complicated as he walked this earth - and he is the one who troubles the water - and the water that is troubled is the healing water - ala the pool at Bethsaida.

7/30/2008 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "juridical covenant" or whatever we call it just cannot happen, at least here in TEC. The fundamental issue for our tradition, ever since Magna Carta (at least in spirit), is our refusal to allow some kind of centralized authority to have "immediate jurisdiction" in the affairs of local Churches. This was a sticking point in the ARCIC dialogue in the early 80s, and it remains an essential non-negotiable. Why Rowan would ever think that he, or any other of the "instruments of communion" (an innovation in terminology that he seems to be slipping right past everyone, to my chagrin) could say, "because I said so!" to TEC is a laughable mystery to me.

Thank you for sharing the content of your struggle, Lisa. I can't tell you how many times I've wondered about leaving this Church. The first things that stop me from going are the health insurance and the pension. But then, there's that other thing...God brought me into this place for a reason, he called me here, established me here, has used me here, and I am not capable of believing that it was a mistake - painful though it may be from day to day.


7/30/2008 9:40 PM  
Blogger Leonardo Ricardo said...

Dear Rowan, No soap!

Dear Rowan, You wouldn't know deomonized if you looked him in the mirror so STOP trying to upstage the truly persecuted and marginalized.

Dear Rowan, there is no such thing as a perfect and Godly heterosexual or homosexual...we're on equal footing...adjust.

The "Gay Church" distraction/blur is written in fear, exclusion, hate and silliness...besides, would you prefer to be known as The First Heterosexual Church of God Almighty?

Get a grip.

7/30/2008 10:22 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for that link, Ann. I appreciated Bishop Lane's irritation that -- above all -- Rowan seems to want to put all this on the backs of gay men and lesbians.

Yeah ... if only we would just shut up and return to our closets, then the Anglican Communion would be at peace again. Does anybody really believe that?

7/30/2008 11:25 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I'm with you, Laura!

I'll say here that I am often frustrated by the "lobbying groups of the left" who pose this as an issue of "mere" justice or inclusivity. I don't think that helps. I think they dodge the deep reading of scripture and the hermeneutic that guides some of us. -- And, as you said, it's also about the incarnational moments that many people have experienced. But that's the only thread that Rowan picked up on.

Rant away, my friend. This is a blog where I'll keep it safe for us to rant when need be. I'm glad to have your voice here.

7/30/2008 11:30 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Ann, thanks for the comment about keeping things "swept under the carpet." I keep wondering what would happen if all the gay bishops and priests would come out of the closet.

7/30/2008 11:32 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for dropping in, Scott.

It is indeed spooky how Rowan seems attracted by the move toward giving him quasi-papal powers. Gives me the creeps!

I am not (yet) thinking about leaving TEC, but I am more and more open to leaving the Anglican Communion. The more I hear from Lambeth, the more ready I am to see the Anglican Communion die from its current manifestation so that something better may emerge. I was encouraged by what I read from Mark Harris. As he wrote there: Something is going to give soon, and it will not be pretty. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Afterwards there will be a place of refreshment.

But afterwards we can get on with the things that make each of our churches an instrument of God's unfolding will for the people of God.

I yearn for that "place of refreshment." I don't hear refreshment coming from the Lambeth pronouncements so far. I hope that may change soon.

7/30/2008 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Me too.


7/31/2008 12:14 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home