Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Three Federations?

Sarah (I assume, Sarah Hey) commenting on The Anglican Competition post below makes this prediction:

"I think we'll have three different medium-sized entities at the end of the day: raving revisionist TEC and her allies, fumbling [and still clueless about the juggernaut of TEC's revisionism and what delights will be in store in the coming decades from that diminishing organization] "we'd sign anything if it could only go away" moderate COE and her allies, and the rest of the traditional Provinces."

Now, so comments do not get stuck on the language here, I am going to take up her comment and recast it as fairly and as diplomatically as I can. (So don't bother commenting here about her comment!)

Whereas I often write as though the future will be some form of GAFCON/Global South federation and the remainder of the Communion as another federation of Anglican churches (and it will be federations because neither in the first nor in the second will key churches submit their understanding of Anglicanism to the judgement of others), Sarah proposes three entities. I think there could be something in what she says.

(1) If we drop loaded terminology such as 'raving', 'revisionism', and 'juggernaut' we can still fairly raise the question whether TEC is on a steady trajectory towards a manner of Anglican life which is distinct from both traditional Anglicanism (measured, for instance, by the embrace of same sex partnerships as equal of marriage) and much modern Anglicanism (measured, for instance, by the ease with which members (individuals, parishes, dioceses) are let go of). No other Anglican church I am aware of, save perhaps for Canada in parts, is as willing as TEC to let go of its dissidents.

But these are not the only distinctives to note here: TEC's great claim is to be led by the Spirit, even when that direction is different to the rest of the Communion. TEC may prove to be right (and thus, effectively, it will be the rest of us who will have been the real 'revisionists') but at the moment what is interesting is the distinctiveness of their pathway. This pathway is distinctive because (a) they make that claim though it contradicts where the majority of the Communion is at; (b) they are unwilling to test the claim in the court of the Communion as a whole, (d) within their ranks are voices expressing preference for the Communion to break up rather than any reversal of commitment takes place, yet (c) they wish to remain part of the Communion rather than to walk apart. This distinctiveness means it is not at all clear to me that (2) below will be a close ally of (1) as we go forward into the future.

(2) Then there is - always, because we are Anglican - a group of moderates, perhaps best represented by the CofE, who really, really hope that the Communion can be held together, and will conjure up all manner of band aids, rubber bands, and bits of string to hold it together. Covenant, diplomacy, refusal to exclude, hints of inclusion (to ACNA), revisioning Lambeth (and now, it seems, the Primates Meeting), and generally expressing goodwill to all and tolerance of everything: the moderates are just about exhausted, both in energy and in ideas. The Great Moderate is of course the ABC himself. This mass of moderates may fall apart, especially if the Covenant is not well supported across the Communion, but I think the genuineness of their inclusiveness - the will to retain opponents - may be the superglue which holds all together.

(3) Then Sarah's 'the rest of the traditional Provinces': in disagreement with TEC, in dissatisfaction with moderate Anglicanism (often arising out of contexts of strident challenges from other religions), many provinces want to stick close to Anglicanism-as-inherited. From this perspective anglo-catholics and evangelicals can find common cause: "We are agreed that Anglicanism has a past we should learn more from than current claims about the Spirit's leading; we may disagree on what that past consists of, but we are united in what it cannot accommodate from the present," could be their statement, as well as this, "We have a gospel to proclaim: it is not what TEC claims is the gospel, and it is clear and unequivocal, in contrast to the understanding of the muddled moderate middle of Anglicanism."

Three Federations? If we can find the right language to describe what is happening in our midst, we may be able to give this hypothesis a fair hearing.

42 comments:

Bryan Owen said...

Peter wrote:

No other Anglican church I am aware of, save perhaps for Canada in parts, is as willing as TEC to let go of its dissidents.

Even granting the reality that TEC's opponents have behaved badly (there's plenty of blame to go around in this destructive game of tit-for-tat), this observation still rings true. And that truth exposes the hollowness of the reigning Liberal Party's ideology of inclusion (i.e., we'll include you, but only if you agree with us).

It may be true that desire for genuine inclusion among moderates within the broader Communion could be the "superglue" that holds things together. But there are some issues that simply do not allow for a via media compromise. One must make a decision for or against, and then accept the consequences that follow.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

I have a very different take on what Bryan says about TEC. I think that overall TEC wants very much to be inclusive of those members who disagree. But after a period of time TEC is less open to the level of disagreement that is acceptable.

A less volatile example is women's ordination. TEC opened all levels of ordained ministry to women some 30 years ago. TEC was open to those who refused any acceptance of WO. So there were bishops and dioceses that had no part in WO and who took great measures to insure that they were not contaminated by WO.

After a couple of decades of this, TEC said that it was still acceptable that a bishop not ordain women nor employ ordained women in their diocesan structure or that conservative parishes not employ ordained women, but TEC said that those bishops needed to stop standing in the way of women in their diocese who were called to ministry, Those bishops needed to make accommodation for these women to receive opportunities for training and access to the process to ordination without them having to go to any more expense and inconvenience than men who felt called to the ministry in their diocese. That might mean a partnership with a neighbor bishop and diocese that facilitated WO. TEC also said that it was time that bishops opposed to WO stop prohibiting parishes in their diocese from calling ordained women to ministry in their parishes.

There is no mechanism in TEC for it to enforce these accommodations to WO, but it has said in Gen Convention resolutions that this is what should be occurring in the church. There are bishops and dioceses that have refused to make this accommodation.

At the same time TEC as a whole is of the feeling that conservative priests and parishes should also be accommodated. Conservative parishes in moderate to liberal dioceses, with moderate to liberal bishops, should be able to call conservative male priests. Conservative male priests should be able to serve conservative parishes, even in a predominantly moderate to liberal diocese, under a moderate to liberal bishop. Sadly to me, many conservative priests and parishes report that there are certain bishops who also refuse them this accommodation. There is also no mechanism in TEC to enforce this accommodation.

But at the same time there are conservative parishes and dioceses who have withdrawn their monetary support of their dioceses and/or the national church. Others have decided to leave TEC and try to take the property with them. Just as the Bishop of London has recently told folks leaving for the Anglican Ordinariates of the Roman Church, TEC (and ACCanada) have long stated that members are free to leave the Church, but parishes, dioceses and their properties are not.

Bryan Owen said...

The issue of the ordination of women in TEC may be "less volatile," David, but it does not not contradict my basic point, which is this: whether in the short or in the long run, the reigning Liberal Party's tolerance for views that contradict its agenda will eventually take the "Turn or Burn" approach. The clampdown eventually comes. Just ask how welcome Anglo-Catholics feel in TEC these days (or, for that matter, in the Church of England!). One of my good friends in the priesthood happens to be an Anglo-Catholic, and I can assure readers that the current trajectory of my church is anything but accommodating for him.

The concern felt by many conservative (and also by many moderate) clergy on the issue of same-sex blessings is the same. After General Convention approves rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, there may also be a "conscience clause" for those who cannot go along. But sooner or later, if the powers that be continue to be dominated by the reigning Liberal Party, there will be a crack down. And if you're not willing to play ball by their rules, you'll get booted out of the stadium. Justice requires nothing less.

I'm reminded of a comment a "progressive" clergy colleague made to me in passing after some of the controversial things happened at General Convention 2009. She said: "It's amazing the progressive things the Church can do now that the conservatives are out of the way." As I noted in a blog piece I posted shortly afterwards, that statement troubled me (and continues to trouble me) for many reasons, including the fact that it:

... rightly or wrongly gives credence to the perception that the liberal wing of the Episcopal Church is engaging in realpolitik. We'll be nice about it at first. We'll even say that we want to be in relationship with you. But if you stand in our way, we'll make things increasingly difficult for you. We'll defeat every resolution you propose or amend at Diocesan and General Convention. And if need be, we'll force you out to get what we want. For truth be told, we really don't want you around anyway.

I'm grateful to currently serve as a priest in a diocese where the full force of this ecclesial culture war hasn't yet put its boots on the ground. But it's happening in many places elsewhere in TEC. And it may yet happen here.

Kurt said...

“Just ask how welcome Anglo-Catholics feel in TEC these days (or, for that matter, in the Church of England!).” Fr. Owen

I’m a life-long Anglo Catholic Episcopalian, Bryan, and I feel very welcome in TEC. But, Bryan, I’m a modern Anglo Catholic who accepts women clergy. Many of my liberal Roman Catholic friends envy TEC. (Some of them, in fact, are actually ex-RCers, since they have joined TEC). The minority of Anglo Catholics who cannot in any way accept women bishops, priests and deacons have alternatives. (By the way, the most reactionary clergy on social issues I have found are not from the Catholic tradition, most of whom are moderates if not outright liberals, but rather from the Evangelical wing of TEC. The vast majority of the Religious, for example, support WO and gay clergy. It’s the neo-Calvinists that are, as usual, the problem.

Kurt Hill
Awaiting snow flurries
In Brooklyn, NY

Bryan Owen said...

Kurt, you are quite right: modern Anglo-Catholics are most welcome in the Episcopal Church. Insofar as the meaning of "Anglo-Catholic" has been changed to accommodate the "progressive" agenda, it is acceptable. But insofar as the meaning of "Anglo-Catholic" still includes such things as a male-only priesthood and the moral condemnation of sex outside of heterosexual marriage, it is anathema.

Kurt said...

Well Fr. Bryan, with all respect, I think that your take on Anglo Catholicism is a bit too historically limited. There have always been differences within our trend, though the differences have varied throughout the centuries. True, the acceptance of female and openly gay clergy were not part of Catholic practice 400 years ago. But, neither were, for example, the acceptance of abolitionism for slaves or the separation of church and state. For most of us today, our Anglo Catholicism is obviously not identical to the Anglo Catholicism of the 19th century anymore than the Catholicism of Pusey is identical to the Catholicism of Seabury, or that of Seabury to the Catholicism of Laud. The world has changed in 400 years. Continuities remain, of course, but vast changes have taken place as well. That is to be expected. Or, would you have us Anglo Catholics continue to support the Divine Right of Kings, and Negro chattel slavery, colonial dependence upon the Empire, etc., etc?

Kurt Hill
Waiting for the snow
In Brooklyn, NY

Bryan Owen said...

Good points, Kurt. My original intention was not to debate the finer historical points of Anglo-Catholicism, but simply to point out the perception of many conservatives (and perhaps many moderates as well) that when the Episcopal Left talks about "inclusion," they do not seriously intend to include persons who hold traditional understandings of sexual ethics, etc. Indeed, to hearken back to the comment my clergy colleague made after General Convention 2009 ("It's amazing the progressive things the Church can do now that the conservatives are out of the way"), there are many "progressives" who would just as soon all those who disagree with the Liberal Party platform leave the Episcopal Church altogether.

Kurt said...

Well, Bryan, one has to admit that being an ideological conservative is no doubt often difficult in a generally progressive, mainline denomination. Just as being a liberal in a generally conservative denomination (e.g. Southern Baptists) is difficult.

Professionally, such a situation can be limiting. For example, your “traditional” Anglo Catholic priest friend could hardly feel comfortable applying for a position at an historic (1822) High Church parish such as St. Luke-in-the-Fields in NYC’s Greenwich Village. He might in many ways be a “fit” liturgically, and in some significant ways theologically as well, but there would be major problems. His theological attitude toward partnered gay men and lesbians (who are a significant, though not dominant, presence in the parish) would not at all help him do pastoral work in that parish. Even straight parishioners there would question his ability to minister to all members of St. Luke’s community.

Similarly, I’m sure that a partnered, gay priest—however conservative in other respects, liturgically, theologically, etc.— would undoubtedly be unacceptable for a position in a conservative “traditional” parish in your neck of the woods.

Now, of course, there is room in TEC for conservative parishes to call conservative clergy, just as there is for liberals to call liberals. And just as liberal parishes cannot “quit” a conservative diocese, conservative parishes cannot “leave” a liberal diocese. This is where many of us have had our problems with conservatives. I have no wish to impose my values on them—but I will also resist their attempts to impose their values on TEC.


Kurt Hill
Brooklyn

Father Ron Smith said...

I think, Peter, that you are probably too easily led astray by commentators such as Sarah Hey (who is a frequent writer for the oddly-named 'Virtue On Line' blog - hosted in the US by David Virtue). She sees TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada as the entity which has departed from the Anglican Family, whereas - as most of us do realise - her own ACNA sodality is the schismatic body within the North American Church.

The fact that ACNA is peopled with dissidents from TEC and the A.C.of C., who have been 'shepherded' by hierarchs ordained for the purpose by the GAFCON Primates, should wise you up on her true ecclesial orientation, which is certainly not authentically more 'Anglican' than either TEC or the A.C.of C. Here, one is trying to compare apples with dried figs.

If, in fact, TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada felt able to sign up to the Covenant (which is always as possibility) then there would be only 2 entities within the Anglican Family: those modern moderates who sign up, and those immoderates who do not.

Peter Carrell said...

Yet Sarah, herself, Ron, has not (as I understood it) left TEC (and I think she writes more for Stand Firm than for Virtue!).

I would be more inclined to agree with you if it were not for my own contacts in TEC/ACNA which tells me that people no more immoderate than myself and a swag of lay and ordained people in our Diocese have felt the need to move on from TEC.

Incidentally, one particular friend once in TEC, now in ACNA is part of a congregation that has simply walked from its property, so a criticism that some bring to the situation ('property thieving') does not apply to them!

Bryan Owen said...

Speaking of imposing values on others, I'm reminded of the Province I meeting of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music this past October. The Commission was conducting a hearing as part of its General Convention mandate "to collect and develop theological resources and liturgies for blessing same-gender relationships." According to the Episcopal News Service article about the hearing, the bishop of Maine said: "I think it is heretical and immoral to have different standards for different groups of baptized people."

"Heretical and immoral."

Even granting the fact that Province I is, on the whole, far more liberal than the diocese in which I serve, the question remains: if now or in the near future the majority of the leadership of the Episcopal Church shares this view with the bishop of Maine, then the writing is, indeed, on the wall for anyone who dares to disagree. For heresy and immorality cannot be tolerated in Christ's one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Indeed, as the bishop himself put it, such tolerance would itself be heretical and immoral!

What the bishop of Maine said allows for no compromise. It follows that, for those who subscribe to such a view, it is a moral imperative to impose one's views on those who disagree, even if that means "eliminating" them. Justice requires no less.

Kurt said...

“What the bishop of Maine said allows for no compromise. It follows that, for those who subscribe to such a view, it is a moral imperative to impose one's views on those who disagree, even if that means "eliminating" them. Justice requires no less”—Fr. Bryan

Yes, and it also follows for those who subscribe to the view (occasionally even expressed by some on this blog) that The Episcopal Church is “apostate”, “un-Christian,” “not really Anglican” etc. also feel the same “moral imperative,” yes? It cuts both ways, Bryan.

Kurt Hill
Anticipating snow flurries
In Brooklyn, NY

Bryan Owen said...

It does, indeed, cut both ways, Kurt. But there is still a difference in power to take into consideration. Conservatives still within the Episcopal Church who make the charge that those Episcopalians with whom they disagree are "apostate," "un-Christian," "not really Anglican," etc., have no legislative or other leverage to impose their views in the same way that "progressives" do. (I note that such charges are made not only by conservatives, but also by many "progressives" against those who support the Anglican Covenant.)

Regardless of whether we approach this situation from the Left or from the Right, it's a sad testimony to the way in which many Episcopalians have bought into an almost Nietzschean ecclesial vision in which rival wills to power struggling for mastery over opponents and the enactment of partisan agendas is constitutive of what it means to be the Church.

Anonymous said...

"True, the acceptance of female and openly gay clergy were not part of Catholic practice 400 years ago."

Or even 40 years ago. And they still aren't part of 'Catholic practice' if you define by that what Catholics and Orthodox hold in common. If you define 'Catholicism' by dressing up and using incense, then I wish you a Merry Krishnas. The worst thing about historical myopia is not knowing one has it.
As for the abolition of the slave trade, thank those benighted Anglican Evangelicals Wilberforce and Newton for that.
As for Tec's enthusiastic support of abortion (on which you remain resolutely silent - why?) - sufficient evidence of its apostasy.
'Not everyone who says to me "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my Father.'
A fairly objective test of "Catholic practice", I would have thought.
Al M.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

As for Tec's enthusiastic support of abortion (on which you remain resolutely silent - why?) - sufficient evidence of its apostasy.

TEC does not enthusiastically support abortion. It has never passed pro-abortion resolutions or legislation. To claim otherwise is a lie.

TEC is pro-choice. TEC supports the concept that abortion is a personal matter. It is a matter of decision by the mother in consultation with others. Those in consultation may include the father of the child, her physicians, her close family and friend confidants and her clergy, among others. TEC supports life always. Sometimes that life that is saved is that of the mother, a person who already exists as a viable, living being.

Bryan Owen said...

Concerning abortion and the Episcopal Church, the Pew Forum on Religion and and Public Life website puts it this way:

While the Episcopal Church recognizes a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy, the church condones abortion only in cases of rape or incest, cases in which a mother's physical or mental health is at risk or cases involving fetal abnormalities. The church forbids "abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or any reason of mere convenience."

The relevant resolutions of General Convention from 1976 to 2000 are available here.

Anonymous said...

"TEC does not enthusiastically support abortion. It has never passed pro-abortion resolutions or legislation. To claim otherwise is a lie."

Clearly you don't follow the news. Louie Crewe & co. are great champions of abortion and the Tec leadership have marched in support of abortion - it's all out thetre on the internet. You don't need to pass 'pro-abortion resolutions' to push the practice, any more than you need to officially to declare war to drop bombs on a country.
On the question of abortion, the leadership of Tec is morally bankrupt.
Al M.

Anonymous said...

I can't copy the http but Crewe and Vanderstar and other Tec Exec proudly marched under the Episcopal banner in a pro-abortion rally in 2004 - as 'Episcopal Life' Apil 27, 2004 proudly report.

Al M.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

None of what you are stating is true Al M. If you believe it to be so, then provide the evidence, point us to the links.

I think that you are purposely misconstruing the stand of TEC so that you can continue to denigrate the leadership of TEC. The TEC stand is pro-life. That stand is exactly as Bryan has stated it above. It is nuts to me that a gay man would be avidly supporting abortion. Dr Crew is pro-choice on the side of pro-life.

Please stop lying.

Peter Carrell said...

I wonder if I might intrude a small point in this particular sequence of comments re abortion and the alleged stance of TEC on it? I write on the basis that I think "Al M" is not USA based:

(1) I ask care to be taken to distinguish (a) leading commentators who belong to TEC (e.g. Louie Crew or +Gene Robinson) and (b) "TEC" and its stance/view/policy on any matter (which must be nailed down to GC or House of Bishop or (possibly) Presiding Bishop statement or resolution (but in the last case, an unchallenged statement, that is the PB does not speak as a metropolitan for TEC, but I imagine does sometimes speak in a manner which attempts to represent TEC's view on a matter).

(2) In a country such as my own, New Zealand, the descriptors "pro-choice" and "pro-life" in respect of the matter of abortion tend to be opposites not apposites.

Thus, David, when you write that X is both pro-choice and pro-life I can make a socio-cultural adjustment which acknowledges a difference in the use of these terms in the USA (perhaps within the whole of North America?) compared to NZ (and, I think, Oz and the UK). But I am wondering if Al M, like me, struggles to comprehend how one can be pro-choice and pro-life ...

liturgy said...

Thanks Bryan for bringing some actual cited facts to the comments.

With NZ being one of the highest aborting countries in the "developed" world, Peter, could you provide please any of our own General Synod discussions and resolutions on this, in case the impression is given that what you call "conservatives" here are obsessed with gays ("them") and extremely reticent to speak at all about heterosexuals ("us") be it on divorce, extramarital sex, or abortion?

Anonymous said...

Hermano David, I am not lying but I'm not bothered by your intemperate ad hominems either. Look up 'Episcopal Life' April 27 2004 for the photo - you can fnd it easily enough. 'Pro-choice' and 'Pro-life' are opposites in American political discourse. 'Pro-choice' means opposing legal restrictions on abortion. That describes Crewe, Vanderstam and others on the Tec leadership.
Al M.

Anonymous said...

Add to that list Ragsdale, the Dean of EDS, who called 'abortion' 'a blessing' in 2009, and Schori, who called abortion 'a moral tragedy' (well, who can doubt that?) but not a sin per se or anything to be restricted or discouraged by the force of law - not even partial birth abortion.
Honestly: could you imagine anyone calling slavery a 'moral tragedy' but not a crime against humanity?

Al M.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
NZ indeed has a very high rate of abortions. I am not aware of any GS resolutions on abortion in the last decade or so. However my comment re NZ and pro choice / pro life was a reflection on the wider debate in our society and churches through many decades.

I am not quite sure how a discussion about abortion becomes an occasion to defend conservatives from the charge of being obsessed with gays. My recollection of GS motions about homosexuality in recent decades is that most have been brought by non-conservatives, and conservatives, reasonably and unobsessedly, have risen to the challenge of defending Scripture and tradition.

I imagine that if (say) a GS motion was brought seeking even more choice re abortion, or seeking to name abortion as a blessing, that conservatives would rise to defend Scripture and tradition on that too.

liturgy said...

Let me rephrase that then, Peter.

In a country with such a high abortion rate, is it not surprising (read shocking) that there has not, to our recollection been a debate, report, review, discussion, motion about this at either diocesan or general synod level?

What about debate and motions on the "Liturgy for Recognising the End of a Marriage"?

What about discussion about limits to endlessly remarrying divorcees (top I'm aware of clergy three, and taking weddings seven)?

The here-often-much-maligned TEC at least appears from my distance to be engaging in debate. For a down under site, maybe there could be occasionally some starting of a down under discussion rather than waiting for what you call the "non-conservatives" to always take the initiative?

Peter Carrell said...

Consideration will be given by the editorial board to suggested topics for discussion!

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

I had not considered that I needed to stop and translate the English!

Yes, there are plenty of folks in North America who equate being anti-abortion and being pro-life as equal. I should have recalled that the signs that most anti-abortionists carry say pro-life.

But many of us who are pro-choice, do not equate pro-life with anti-abortion. We equate it that we are pro-choice and pro-life at the same time. Meaning that our stance on abortion is that it is a personal matter of choice of the woman, with a proviso that abortion is a resource of last resort as outlined by Bryan above; in cases of rape or incest, cases in which a mother's physical or mental health is at risk or cases involving fetal abnormalities and not to be casually used as he also outlined; as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or any reason of mere convenience.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

PS
Honestly: could you imagine anyone calling slavery a 'moral tragedy' but not a crime against humanity?
We have no record to think other than that Jesus and then the Church for centuries did just that!

Anonymous said...

"Well, for the record let me say that I am personally opposed to slavery but I think any decision about slavery should be made by a slaveholder and his bank manager. So, yes, I am pro-freedom and pro-economic choice.
Mr Wilberforce: damn you, sir!"

Colonel Al M., 1st Virginia Volunteers

Kurt said...

“And they still aren't part of 'Catholic practice' if you define by that what Catholics and Orthodox hold in common. If you define 'Catholicism' by dressing up and using incense, then I wish you a Merry Krishnas. The worst thing about historical myopia is not knowing one has it.”--Al

You think so, do you Al? Well, let me tell you there are plenty of both Anglo and Roman Catholics who agree with me and who disagree with you. I even have a couple of Greek Orthodox friends who agree with TEC’s stands on WO and gay people.

Our Prayer Book, Al, demonstrates the essentially Catholic nature of TEC. It always has, even in the days of Bishop Seabury. (Although it is true that Episcopalians re-introduced incense into Anglican worship c. 1825 or 1828, a whole generation before the Tractarians/Ritualists did in England.)

Good work, Fr. Bryan is showing Al TEC’s actual position on abortion. You hit the bull’s eye on this one! As David says, it’s much more complex than Al thinks.

And Al, I thought everyone knew that William Wilberforce was complicit in slavery.
Wilberforce and his supporters permitted slave labor in Sierra Leone. Yes, he had given
Twenty or so years of his life to the abolition effort. But after the Abolition Act was passed in 1807, he allowed the abolitionist colony of Sierra Leone, which the evangelical Clapham sect managed, to use slave labor and buy and sell slaves. Didn’t you know this piece of evangelical hypocrisy, Al?

I agree with Fr. Carrell, that you are not “USA based.” We also know that you are not a member of TEC. So, Al, I think it’s time for you to tell us a bit about yourself. Are you a Sydney Calvinist? If so, that would go far to explain your rather peculiar “Anglican” take on things TEC.

Kurt Hill
Who is not hiding the fact that he is an American who lives in dynamic
Brooklyn, NY

John Sandeman said...

Kurt,
I am sure there were flaws in the Sierra Leone Company's management of the colony. I am not sure your charge against Wiberforce stands. But lets remember that the colony sheltered slaves who had fled the American Revolution. It would be fair to say that among the slave owners they were fleeing were Episcopalians.

The Word verification is jingo - perhaps this is a jingoistic post

Kurt said...

As the “Guardian” newspaper reported: “They [the Africans] were called ‘apprentices’, but they were slaves. The governor of Sierra Leone paid the navy a bounty per head, put some of the men to work for the government, and sold the rest to landowners. They did forced labor, under threat of punishment, without pay, and those who escaped to neighboring African villages to work for wages were arrested and brought back [in chains]. Women were ‘given away’”.

The first crown governor of Sierra Leone, Lt Thomas Perronet Thompson would also beg to differ with you, Obadiah/John. Thompson was an abolitionist protégé of Wilberforce, chosen by that evangelical for the job. Thompson was appalled at what was happening. "These apprenticeships", he complained, "have after 16 years successful struggle at last introduced actual slavery into the colony", was his opinion. He wrote that Wilberforce and the Sierra Leone Company had "by means of their agents become slave traders themselves". In fact, it was Thompson himself, not the Clapham sectarians, who single-handedly abolished “apprenticeship” and freed the slaves. He filed scandalized reports to the colonial office. He threatened to expose this situation, so he was fired, with Wilberforce himself agreeing to the sacking. Wilberforce advised him to “go quietly” for the sake of his career, which he did and indeed eventually became a general and MP.

During our Colonial Period in America, we had a system called Indentured Servitude, whereby one could voluntarily agree to be “apprenticed” for various periods of time. It was a written contract, the provisions of which were enforceable by law. If a master violated the contract, the indentured servant could—and often did—take the master to court to enforce his rights. The Sierra Leone slaves—oops, I mean “apprentices”—
on the other hand, had no contract and no rights. Even under gradual manumission, slaves remain slaves, no matter what word is used to justify the practice.

Kurt Hill
In snowy Brooklyn, NY

Anonymous said...

For the record, Sarah neither writes for nor comments at Virtue's site, nor is she a member of ACNA. She is a happy member of TEC, even while acknowledging that the vast majority of its current national leaders are corrupt and heretical. The poor French people had to endure something similar from July 1940 to August 1944. ; > )


Sarah

Kurt said...

So, Sarah, have you decided yet whether to run for president in 2012?

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

John Sandeman said...

Kurt,
I went back to my copy of Stephen Tomkins book on Wilberforce and re read the passges on Sierra Leone carefully.

He does not make the case for Wiberforce being a hypocrite in the book.
Neither does he in the Guardian article you quote. In fact the par after the one you quote says
"What are we to make of it all? No interpretation that involves Wilberforce being corrupt, or insincere in his abolitionism, can possibly hold water. Vast amounts of his private letters and even privater journals are publicly available, and they reveal a man of extraordinary integrity and an implacable and lifelong (if slightly sentimental) hatred of slavery."

And Tomkins goes on to outline that
the 1807 act contained compromises including the apprentice ship system. The fight to stop slavery in the corwn colonies occupile Wilberforce up to the 1833 act.

Tomkins adds "My theory is that Wilberforce and the Clapham sect believed that the Abolition Act would not get through the House of Lords without the apprenticeship clause, and once it was passed felt duty bound to support the system against Thompson's maverick actions.

But if so, and if Wilberforce was right that without apprenticeship the abolition bill would not have been passed, then it follows that he made the right choice to support it. Before abolition, 40,000 African people each year were being made slaves by the British. After abolition, several hundred of them a year were still ending up as slaves in Freetown.

It is a bitter irony, and a disappointment, but it does seem that Wilberforce was faced with a choice between two evils, and chose the less."

After a great deal of campagning, and reverses came the final success of 1833.
Meanwhile in the USA, good episcopalians continued to own slaves for decades longer.

Kurt said...

Look, Obadiah/John, don’t kid yourself. “Apprenticeship” by any other name is still slavery. At least the Americans of the period were more honest with themselves and others about this “peculiar institution.” (And they fought a bloody civil war for freedom of the slaves. Which is more than Australians did to end the disgrace of mass convict servitude Down Under).

Steven Tomkins, in the “Guardian” article cited also writes: “William Wilberforce, the most celebrated campaigner against the slave trade, was also implicated in slavery and the trade, according to a forthcoming book about him and the Clapham sect, written, it so happens, by me. Having given 20 years of his life to the struggle, after the Abolition Act was passed in 1807, he allowed the abolitionist colony of Sierra Leone, which the Clapham sect managed, to use slave labour and buy and sell slaves.

“This is not a claim I make with the relish of trying to bring down an over-venerated icon a peg or two. I'm a critical fan of Wilberforce for his central role in the astounding achievement in abolition, which without his stamina would certainly have failed.”

Tomkins adds, “Neither is it [the charge of complicity with slavery] a case of reading too much between the lines of meagre evidence.”

“Meanwhile in the USA, good episcopalians [sic] continued to own slaves for decades longer.”—John/Obadiah

Southern Episcopalians, perhaps. The South has always been the most backward part of the nation. But here in the North, things were somewhat different, even in New York State, which was one of the last in the northland to emancipate. In 1799 New York enacted legislation to end slavery in the state gradually, by freeing future slaves, starting with any children born to slave parents after July 4, 1799. Called "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery," it deemed all slaves born after the date would be made free at the age of 28 for males, 25 for women. Until then, they remained property of their mother's owner. The act was based on similar legislation passed in progressive Pennsylvania in 1780, but still a full 66 years before the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in December 1865. (Abolition in the New England states was accomplished much earlier.)

New Yorkers were more honest, both with themselves and the world, than Wilberforce and his Clapham evangelicals. In New York, unlike Sierra Leone, abolition was openly acknowledged as “gradual.” The reality was not hypocritically hidden from the world, as Sierra Leone’s governor Lt Thomas Perronet Thompson, so well expressed to the Colonial Office—only to be fired by Wilberforce and his gang for telling the unpleasant truth.

Perhaps Tomkins is unwilling to call the Wilberforce evangelicals hypocrites, but as far as I'm concerned, they certainly are.

Kurt Hill
In frigid (-4.4C) Brooklyn, NY

Anonymous said...

RE: "So, Sarah, have you decided yet whether to run for president in 2012?"

Eh?

So, Kurt, have you decided yet whether to found a grunge band, become "the spokesman of a generation", declaim about your artistic vision being misunderstood by your public, and become a heroin addict?

???

Or better yet, how about you define the words "juvenile" and "I can't think of much cool to say" for us all.



Sarah

John sandeman said...

The whole of the many decades Wilberforce spend campaigning against slavery involved defaets and compromises. Tomkins is very good at recounting this. And you really should read his books rather than a short summary article to get the full force of the story. He is a good author and I think that he has weighed the evidence well.
Tomkins certainly describes Wiberforce as being complicit in slavery in that the 1807 act had loopholes of which the apprenticeship system was merely one.
The crown colonies of which Sierra Leone was one from 1807 were the target of his campaigning over the next decade and a half - Wilberforce wanted to get rid of slavery from them and other lands as well.
But you charged Wilberforce with hypocrisy. This is not a description Tomkins agrees with you on.
That you choose to defend only New York and other Northern Episcopalians against the charge of being slave owners speaks for itself.

Kurt said...

“But you charged Wilberforce with hypocrisy. This is not a description Tomkins agrees with you on.”

That’s correct; and I said so in my previous comment. But I draw a different conclusion, and not simply from Tomkins’ book. Your focus is far too Anglo-centric. Many people—not just the Wilberforce evangelicals—opposed slavery, and acted against it with much more integrity. They didn’t say one thing, and then do something else, like Wilberforce.

All of the Northern states had different policies concerning slavery before the American Revolution. In some areas of the country where religious groups such as the Quakers played a prominent role in political life, there was strong opposition to having slaves. In fact, it was the Quakers who opposed slavery from the very beginnings of settlement. If there is any group that I look to with admiration on this question, it’s the Quakers, not the Clapham sectarians. The Quakers were principled and consistent—both in Britain and America.

But in point of fact, Americans began abolishing slavery decades before Wilberforce and his people got any results. Rhode Island was the first state to abolish slavery in 1774, followed by: Vermont in 1777; Pennsylvania in 1780; Massachusetts in 1781; New Hampshire in 1783; Connecticut in 1784; New York in 1799 (as I outlined to you); and New Jersey in 1804. These new states never allowed slavery within their borders: Maine; Michigan; Wisconsin; Ohio; Indiana; Kansas; Oregon; California and Illinois.

“That you choose to defend only New York and other Northern Episcopalians against the charge of being slave owners speaks for itself.”

How so? That the Northern (generally High Church Episcopalians) were more progressive-looking than the Southern (generally Evangelical Episcopalians)? If you were not so Anglo-centric, Obadiah, you’d know this. Why would I “defend” reactionary, Southern, Evangelical, slave-owning Episcopalians? Southerner Robert E. Lee was an Episcopalian slave owner (who opposed slavery; or so he said). Jefferson Davis was an Episcopalian slave owner, too, in addition to being the leader of the slave-owning Confederacy. Why would I defend them?

And, it’s no coincidence that the many of the most vocal anti-women, anti-gay TEC voices in the Church today come from the old South. Figures.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Anonymous said...

"And they fought a bloody civil war for freedom of the slaves. Which is more than Australians did to end the disgrace of mass convict servitude Down Under."

Which shows the wisdom of the British, who managed to end the slave trade, and then slavery in their colonies, without a war that cost 600,000 lives and left a legacy of hatred and bitterness that lasts to this day. Marching to Georgia, anyone?
And thanks, too, to Evangelical Granville Sharp, that lawyer and biblical scholar, who secured freedom for escaped slaves in England. The South itself was not particularly religious in the antebellum days; the North was more a good deal more religious then but that role has reversed since.
Your post also suggests you may not understand Australian history.
- penal servitude was, er - penal (not chattel slavery). Believe it or not, transportation was seen as better than imprisonment in England. Read the documentation about the First Fleet and you'll see the goal was 18th century Enlightenment *reformation* of convicts.
- the goal always was that the convicts wolud be released and become, er - Australians, in
Botany Bay.
Hmmm, maybe that's why you can't forgive Sydney (which is pretty warm right now, BTW). Americans were Englishmen who went to the New World for the sake of thir convictions, and Australians were Englishmen who went there because of their convictions. :)
Al M.

Father Ron Smith said...

"For the record, Sarah neither writes for nor comments at Virtue's site, nor is she a member of ACNA. She is a happy member of TEC, even while acknowledging that the vast majority of its current national leaders are corrupt and heretical."
- Sarah Hey (?)

Indeed, Sarah, if you are not the same Sarah whose anti-TEC hierarchy articles appear regularly on the virtueonline site, I apologise.

- only, your theme seems to be remarkably similar - hardly the 'happy' musings of a loyalist in TEC. But then, I suppose it might be quite exciting to be a rebel from within. Having met TEC's Presiding Bishop, I was struck by her intelligence and perspicacity on the need for the world-wide Anglican Communion to be inclusive, rather than merely right every time about everything.

She doesn't seem like an abortion-ist warrior, for example. Nor does she expect other Provinces to toe 'her' line on sexuality and gender issues - that remains the dedicated task of ACNA & GAFCON.

Kurt said...

It’s “Marching TRHOUGH Georgia,” Al. And Americans (many Northerners and some Southerners as well) attempted to bring about gradual manumission of the slaves without a civil war. The Southern slavocracy refused and fired on the flag at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. (Today, Charleston is a hotbed of anti-women and anti-gay sentiment in TEC. Figures)

And your comments seem to peg you as a “Sydney Calvinist” yes? I know a bit about Australian and New Zealand history, Al. I’m probably one of the few Americans you will meet on this site who knows who Arthur Philip and Lachlan Macquarie were. My library has over 100 volumes of Down Under history, literature, political science, etc. Which is why I wrote “servitude” rather than “slavery” in the first place. (By the way, Al, have you ever read Dr. Franklin’s hysterically funny essay on exchanging rattlesnakes for convicts? I first read it in high school and thus learned about penal transportation in the British Empire.)

“Americans were Englishmen who went to the New World for the sake of their convictions, and Australians were Englishmen who went there because of their convictions.”—Al

Perhaps; though as an Episcopalian, I have little love for Puritans. After all, we were their victims during the English Civil war as well as British Anglicans.

Kurt Hill
Waiting for Wednesday’s snowfall
In Brooklyn, NY