Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lambeth Thoughts

The bishops at the Lambeth Conference have been talking a great deal about an "Anglican Covenant." Never mind that this arises from the Windsor Report, which never had any real authority. Never mind that no representative body has asked for a written covenant. The "primates" are all het-up to have a confessional document, and now their agenda has oozed into the bishops' meeting. A report commissioned by the Archbishop and issued by a very few people has now taken on the odor of Holy Writ. I don't really understand why or how that happened, but almost everybody who wears a purple shirt seems to believe that The Windsor Report and The Holy Bible now warrant nearly equivalent attention.

So the Windsor Report that nobody really authorized has now called for an Anglican Covenant which nobody has authorized. Neither of those idols has any authority ... except that the whole Anglican Communion has been dancing to their tunes.

So they have been commanding a fair bit of attention.

Please read Bishop Carol Gallagher's marvelous comments on "constancy and covenant." Because she is "only" a suffragan bishop, she's not at Lambeth, but she well articulates what I have been sensing about the move toward a legal "covenant." Let me quote at length the opening of her essay:

We have a cat named Darla (the dog's name is Petey) who has just turned six months. She is still a kitten in some senses but she is approaching that age when she will be considered fully grown. The dog and the cat (both girls) love to play together, fighting without hurting and chasing each other around then flopping down and sleeping side by side. They are constant in their companionship. And every morning, Darla, without fail, will scratch on our bedroom door for admittance, and find her favorite spot on the bed, rubbing her nose against who ever might be closest by. Constancy in relationship. She is persistent and soft, willing at all times to be cuddled and scratched. Petey likewise follows me around, sits in the office with me and want to go for rides in the car, especially to the train station when Mark is commuting home. Constancy and faithfulness. Yes, they respond to us because we feed them and care for them, but there is something more. The bond is deeper.

The conversation at Lambeth has been focused on Covenant. I am concerned that covenant is how we legislate when we don't have the desire for constancy and faithfulness. We have decided that prescribing a written remedy is better than finding a way to be constant in our love and care for one another. We maybe haven't fed each other enough, we haven't depended upon each other enough, we haven't wanted the companionship enough to evoke constancy and faithfulness. Have we spent enough time listening to each other, both in demands and in purring, in light and in darkness? Have we held each other close as the world closed in around us? Constancy and faithfulness don't need a covenant, they need a loving desire for the presence of others.

At The Lead, Jim Naughton wonders:
If, like me, you are beginning to worry that this interminable dispute is bad for the member provinces of the Anglican Communion--that we may be damaging churches in order to save the organization to which they belong--then you may take a dimmer view. Is it possible that relationships among members of the Communion would actually improve if the Communion did not exist? That is what I am starting to wonder.
Mark Harris expects the Anglican Communion to die in its present form, that something new may be born:
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 have watched the events of the Anglican Communion too closely over the past five years. Frankly, I am ready for the present reality of the Anglican Communion to die. It has become a mechanism of oppression and death. Nowadays, I do not want to admit to being an "Anglican," for that term has become synonymous with a sexuality-obsessed mechanism of hatred. Too often now, when talking with friends, I have to clarify that I am an Episcopalian, but not an "Anglican," for I have to distance myself from the hatemongers who have captured the "Anglican" brand.

Please God, let something new and life-giving arise from the ashes.


Blogger IT said...

gays need not apply. (see beating of gay activist in Uganda.

Nuff said.

7/31/2008 1:54 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you for this reality check, IT.

While the poor little "conservatives" in the US and England whine on about their precious consciences being violated, real live gay men and lesbians are being jailed, beaten up, and even killed.

7/31/2008 2:03 AM  
Blogger StLouisJohn said...

Frankly, I am ready for the present reality of the Anglican Communion to die.

I am as well, Lisa. I really, really do hate to say it, but enough is enough.

8/01/2008 6:26 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Y'know ...? I wonder what would happen if they decided to disband the Anglican Communion as it currently exists and envisioned what should or could emerge in the post-colonial era.

I hope we would mostly continue in deep relationships together.

But I wonder ...

8/01/2008 7:22 PM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

It really is time to let the WWAC slip away to the netherworld. But you know I think that anyway. I don't know if the US bishops will cave to whatever non-recommendation comes out of this Lambeth. But I can almost guarantee that the HoD will, next year, propose legislation -- canonical, I hope -- that will end this foolish debate.

Not sure why Carol Gallagher isn't at Lambeth. At least two suffragans -- Cathy Roskam and Gayle Harris -- are there and visible.

8/01/2008 8:46 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I hope you're right, Cranmer49! I hope the House of Deputies will speak clearly to this next year.

8/01/2008 8:52 PM  
Blogger StLouisJohn said...

I hope we would mostly continue in deep relationships together.

I'd like to think there would be a "picking and choosing" of what relationships were maintained. I would also like to hope the decisions would be made on synergy in mission, and not the litmus test of sexual preference.

However, the pessimist in me says I'm fantasizing.


8/01/2008 8:53 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

John, if you've been reading my blog, you must know that I am deeply invested in (and now agonizing about) our companion relationship with Sudan. I would hate to see us lose that ... no matter what pain it caused me in the last couple of weeks.

8/01/2008 9:01 PM  
Blogger StLouisJohn said...


I'm torn up by the same things you are...yet, you must be feeling the pain much deeper, having "sweat equity" invested in the companion relationship with Sudan.

The only thing I keep telling myself is, Bishops come and go, but the needs of the impoverished do not. Yet it's small comfort.

And literally, the got us by the short ones. If we hold back on support, we're doing the same thing as they do to us...and that Bishop is not going to feel the pain one little bit. He'll just pass it down the line.

The Anglican Communion. I'm trying to leave it at the Foot of the Cross. I don't mean gently placing it, swaddled with care, I mean dumping it unceremoniously like a serviceable but ugly sofa.

Give me some time, maybe I'll have a better attitude.


8/03/2008 12:29 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Amen, John.

Now that I've had a little more time to think about it, I realize we must not follow the path of the refuseniks. We must keep out arms extended and our hands open.

After all, that really is what Jesus would do, itn't it?

8/09/2008 1:08 AM  

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