Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On the current Anglican Communion kerfuffle

Those of you who could not care less about the machinations and intrigues of the Anglican Communion will want to skip this. Even for those of you who care, there are probably better things to do with your life than catch up on the latest poo-flinging. But for those of you who want to know and haven't heard, here's the latest in the saga:

So. Mary Glasspool, a priest partnered with another woman, was elected a bishop in Los Angeles and consecrated about a month ago. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth, plus a stern warning after the election from He Who Has Fantastic Eyebrows, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The consecration happened anyway. Sky remains intact.

He Who Has Fantastic Eyebrows writes another stern letter at Pentecost saying that those provinces who have strayed from three moratoria asked of the church (not consecrating (openly) gay bishops, not poaching parishes from other countries, not blessing same-sex unions) "should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged."

In response, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, aka the "nice American banker lady" [h/t Simple Massing Priest], wrote a response "which amounted to a very Anglican 'get stuffed.'" Much cheering from the American side.

The plot thickens. A letter is sent forth from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion "to those Episcopalians serving on the communion's ecumenical dialogues informing them that their memberships have been discontinued." ASTONISHMENT! Something actually happened!

But what's this? It only happened to the U.S. church, not to, oh, England where they celebrate the Friends of Dorothy sotto voce. And the Province of the Southern Cone North (a.k.a. the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, not to be confused with the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin)...well, that's just a partnership between supportive friends, not a border crossing at all, is it? Just write us a little note assuring us of the fact.

So. Got all that? Everyone who flouts the moratoria will be rebuked as long as the initials of their province are U.S.A. OUTRAGE!

There's a couple of things:

First of all, I hope we'll get over our outrage. The way it's coming across is, "If we get punished, they should get punished, too." Well, yes, it's not fair. But I hope we'll stop looking back about this and talking about what the Archbishop should do and instead think more deeply about what The Episcopal Church should do.

Second, the punishment we're talking about is penny-ante stuff. ++Williams can't de-consecrate anybody; he can't force the Presiding Bishop to resign; he can't require The Episcopal Church to stop electing whoever it wants as bishops; he can't stop people from different countries from talking with one another; he can't even stop ecumenical dialogue. HE KICKED SOME PEOPLE OFF A COMMITTEE! That's all the power he had. Lesson learned here: if he had more power, he'd use it, but he doesn't.

And thirdly, the punishment he meted out hurts him more than it hurts us. What has he shown himself to be but a tin-pot tyrant without any fangs at all. And he's shown that not only to us, but to the wider church as well. What has he said in kicking people off of an ecumenical committee is that, "when push comes to shove, when we disagree with you, we'll tell you to be quiet." I'm sure that's just peachy for the dialogues he hopes to have.

OK, I've gone on too long about things that aren't important. Please resume your life. Unless, of course, you are a hopeless church geek, in which case you might want to read the next post.


it's margaret said...

You must have written this while drinking herbal tea. --it is quite the best commentary I have read yet, and actually, very soothing.

So, what were you drinking?

Lesley Fellows said...

Thanks. I am a semi geek but have avoided reading about it until now.. glad I read your commentary. Does amaze me.. doesn't the chap with amazing eyebrows know that giving in to bulling tactics never works?

LKT said...


How funny! No, it was Tangier: "a decadent blend of abundant saffron and apricot petals and large Sri Lankan tealeaves. Its apricot aroma is evocative of an exotic evening in Tangier, Morocco. The rich copper brew has intoxicating aromas of stewed apricots, floral intensity and the bold, lemony note of a superlative Ceylon black tea. The favor has abundant floral notes with a seductive apricot body and a citrusy, spicy black tea base." And my favorite, excellent for snarkiness.

word verification: retrial! Thinking of you in VA!

LKT said...


I really don't get what the ABC thinks he's accomplishing.

Suem said...

Yep, that just about sums it up. I just hope it will all look incredibly silly (if it is possible that it could look sillier) looking back in years to come.