Friday, June 29, 2007

Oh, Canada!

Look who's back! The Admiral of Morality, whose wisdom and wit I value much, has been almost as quiet as Brother Causticus. He had posted only twice in the past month, and I confess I had grown slack about checking his blog.

Some wellspring seems to have broken forth, however, and now I find that he has spoken on several topics in the past week – on the actions of secessionists in California and Colorado, parishes making a real difference in their community, Baron Carey of Clifton [a.k.a. the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury], Virginia's rejection of the Anglican Covenant draft, and the actions of Canada's General Synod. (And, yeah, I'll also acknowledge that in one post he mentioned me and this blog; I'm still coping with nosebleed from being mentioned in the same breath as the venerable Bishop Epting and Tobias+ Haller! I am not worthy to gather up the crumbs from under their tables . . . . But I digress.)

But here's my point . . . and I do have one. Ever since watching the webcast of the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod, I have wanted to write about the two "headline" resolutions on which they acted. In one, they declared that the blessing of same-sex unions is not inconsistent with core doctrine. In the next, they declined to authorize such blessings. Now I see that the good Admiral has articulated some of my own thoughts (and many better ones) at his "Lift High the Cross."

Here are a few snippets:

The effect of this outcome is to demonstrate quite clearly, that the people and clergy of the Anglican Church in Canada, a country where same sex marriage is established everywhere, already view same sex unions as normative paths to holy lives. The bishops do not share this view, at least not enough to act on it positively as a body. Their position has no doubt been partly arrived at, by the regular and intense lobbying of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, who have also urged the House of Bishops in the United States, to act in a similar way.

Some bishops, speaking to the Anglican Journal after the weekend's vote, indicated that this was because the "theological work" had not been done on blessings, or that it has been done "somewhat improperly," using the wrong words. . . . This sort of criticism against the Report, is certainly not credible. The Report . . . provides strong and clear theology. It is a model of synodical processes and discernment. Going forward, it is certainly a strong and persuasive model for any Church throughout the Communion.

The real issue, as the pastoral directive indicated, is the intense pressure the Canadian Church, especially the bishops preparing for Lambeth, are under to not make further waves.It is the same pressure that has been brought to bear against the Episcopal Church for years . . . .
He rightly observes that both the U.S. and Canadian churches have been subject to immense "political" pressure. That pressure has not come just from the "Global South" and dissidents within our church, but from some who share or have shared our theological views. [cf Rowan Williams]

He notes, as did we all, that the Canadian clergy and laity voted quite clearly in support of blessing gay relationships. In the order of bishops, the vote failed 19-21. The Admiral remarks:

The Synod shows . . . the clear disconnect not only with our discernment and actions, but with our people and bishops. Bishops are supposed to be symbols for and real keepers of, unity in the Church. This unity, however, cannot be had at the price of deception or by ignoring the beating of the Holy Spirit's wings. This type of unity is not real.What is real, is that the people and clergy of the Anglican Church of Canada, like other true and faithful Christians around the world, hear the beating [of the Spirit's wings]. . . .But we are a Church where this is not enough. It is not enough to have the people and clergy do one thing, while the bishops do another. The impulse against this sort of dis-union helps to define us as Episcopalians and Anglicans.
To which I say: Amen! Go there and read that.

I will add these further remarks, at the risk of incurring the wrath of my friends on the progressive side.

I was very happy when our General Convention consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson to the episcopate. I viewed it then – and I still do – as a gigantic leap forward for the Church. However, I regret that our church had not already approved a liturgy (building upon the theological work that had been done) to provide for the blessing of same-sex unions. There, I think we got it backwards. It would have been more easily defensible if we had developed such a liturgy and now-Bishop Robinson and his mate had received that sacrament, before he was consecrated a bishop in our church. But we are people of the Incarnation. The good people of New Hampshire elected him, and our church consented to that election, because the bishops and delegates at General Convention perceived in him the fruits of the Spirit. I support the decision, even as I wish the "order" or chronology had been different.

I hope our church will soon set it right by adopting a liturgy for the blessing of gay/lesbian "unions" or "marriages" or whatever they choose to call it. No matter what Canterbury or the Lambeth Conference or the Primates do in the intervening years, I hope we will draw upon Canada's work: get our theology and our practice and our liturgy all in synch. No more "under the radar" blessings. No more "wink-wink-nod-nod." No more "plausible deniability" from bishops, nor clergy having to "make it up as they go along." Let's develop a liturgy that reflects our theology, and get on with it.

Face it: No matter what we do, we're already "toast" in the eyes of the conservatives and neo-Puritans who are nominally still within the Episcopal Church. [Cf +Duncan et al] There is absolutely nothing we can do that will make the vociferous Africans [cf +Akinola et al] withdraw the bishops they have installed to support insurrection and poach our parishes. The more I survey the Anglican landscape, the more convinced I am that our only option is to continue on the course upon which we began at the 2003 General Convention. But this time, let's not do it by half-measures. Let's work to get everybody on board (as the Canadians are doing … albeit too slowly for some of us), and get on with being the Body of Christ in this place.


Blogger Caminante said...

Having been offline while in El Salvador (or shall I say, having very limited access at a cibercafes), I have not been able to follow all of the ACC synod. IT sounds as though the ABC sent the AB of York to Canada to lobby them (and lecture them) the way he did at GC 2006?

7/01/2007 4:08 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yes, Caminante, the AB of York did the same schtick in Canada as he did in Columbus: a veiled threat inside a velvet globe ... Or so it seemed to me.

7/01/2007 7:11 PM  

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