Monday, June 25, 2012

Holy Rock Star

For a long time now I have wondered if there is something rotten in the state of Denmark The Episcopal Church. I have had to quieten my wonderings over the years on this blog because people take umbrage at people criticising from a distance. Besides which, it has been craftily pointed out that certain things are rotten in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia. True. But one thing which is not rotten is the state of relationships between our leading bishops and our leading committees. Methinks they actually listen to one another and respect one another. But this may not be the case in TEC. Not because I say so, but because, with H/T to Episcopal Cafe, Katie Sherrod says so. Check out this post in which she lays out the extraordinary twists and turns in the story of bringing a budget to the forthcoming General Convention. Whose budget will be passed?

Of course, because so many people over the years have condemned me for questioning her leadership, often praising her to the heavens in the process, I am intrigued by the role of the Holy Rock Star in this imbroglio. By the way, that's Katie's description of her. Not mine.

For the cracked record: the reason ADU takes great interest in TEC is twofold: (a) it is a pioneer in a new style Anglicanism, full of novelties;* (b) some key leaders in our church seem bent on taking ACANZP down the same path that TEC has pioneered. If things are not working out too good for TEC, then ACANZP needs to know. Before it is too late.

*True, as has been pointed out to me, in our own modest way, ACANZP is also a pioneer of this and that. Are there as many 'novelties' in our own church? Are our novelties as influential as the novelties in TEC? Do our novelties include making decisions knowing that significant parishes even dioceses of the church will leave it? I suggest not.

POSTSCRIPT There is an apt observation in a comment below (Malcolm) which draws attention to the difference between 'subsidiarity' and 'centralism'. That has got me thinking about opposition/support re the Covenant. One argument against the Covenant is that it is 'centralising': is that argument coming from Anglicans who belong to churches with centralising tendencies? One argument (including by me) for the Covenant is that it is not centralising because it is coherent with subsidiarity: is that argument easier to make when one belongs, as I think I do, to a church which has more subsidiarity than centralization? Of course we have strong opponents to the Covenant in ACANZP, so my thesis looks weak. BUT! But is there opposition here which arises from fear of centralization which stems from origins other than our own non-experience of centralization here?  

9 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

I knew you would find something before long, Peter, that would chime with your disrespect for TEC. This is one of the give-aways on the blogosphere. We always look for something that supports our own prejudice. That's one of its main drawbacks - from the point of view of objectivity. We all do it!

Tim Chesterton said...

Have you read the linked article, Ron? It would be nice if you engaged with the arguments in it, instead of slagging Peter.

Father Ron Smith said...

Yes, I have read the linked article, Tim, and am not surprised at the tenor of the disappointment of the author.

However, it still does not deserve to be seized upon as an opportunity for us to criticize the management and affairs of TEC. This would seem to be entirely an internal matter for them, and not for the likes of us, in ACANZP to point out to our own people.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
I compliment you on your consistency: you oppose the Covenant and you oppose criticism of the internal affairs of other churches.

However, on reading my post you might note that I (a) raise a neutral question: whose budget will be passed (I think there are three versions for the delegates to think on), (b) observe that I am "intrigued" by the role of the PB in this development. I am not quite sure how that constitutes "criticism".

In the end, the TEC budget is of interest in at least one way to the whole Communion: from that budget (which is vast) flows some of the support for the operations of the Communion's infrastructure.

Perhaps it is not exceedingly clear in my post, but the point of observing that another church is a pioneer with novelties is to note that it may be heading in a way we will one day all follow. If TEC falls by the wayside that is one thing (and pray to God we won't have gone that way ourselves). If TEC travels the narrow road to the kingdom ahead of us that is another thing (and pray to God that we will have followed their lead).

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

It did seem to me that this move to centralize the provincial admin, while perhaps gaining some efficiencies, was in danger of treating a Province like a Diocese like a Parish.

Maybe there isn't really essential difference to the way the two entities should be administered, but I do think we run into problems when we conflate them (including at the communion level)

I quite like the way the Virginia Report speaks of recognizing different levels in the life of the church each with its own integrity and its own demands

The report uses the principle of subsidiarity as the mechanism to avoid what it calls centralism. I wonder if that is the way forward for TEC and ourselves.

Malcolm

Shawn said...

"Do our novelties include making decisions knowing that significant parishes even dioceses of the church will leave it? I suggest not."

No, not at this point, and hopefully it will not come to that. As I have said before, there seems to be a slow but steady shift towards a more centrist/conservative bent in the ACANZP, and certainly there are a very large number of young evangelicals training for ministry, so there is good reason to hope for the future.

TEC has, imo, already "fallen", and there needs to be a reorganisation of Anglicanism in North America, along the same lines as the North American Lutheran Church, a new centrist denomination formed from Lutheran Core after ELCA went the way of TEC.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Lutheran_Church

Father Ron Smith said...

"As I have said before, there seems to be a slow but steady shift towards a more centrist/conservative bent in the ACANZP, and certainly there are a very large number of young evangelicals training for ministry"
- Shawn -

Perhaps one cannot question Shawn's estimate of the calibre of 'young Evangelicals training for minstry' at St.John's College. After all, he lives among them even though not as a candidate for the ministry himself.

As an alumnus of St.John's College myself, and an advocate of its careful and sound theological education, though, I would very much doubt that the majority of students fit into the category that Shawn is suggesting here. That is, unless there has been a very profound shift in ideology since I was there 33 years ago.

Now, if he'd said this of Bishopdale in the Nelson Diocese, which is closely allied with the ethos of Sydney Evangelicalism, I would have been more inclined to believe him.

I think, however, that Saint John's College is probably more theologically balanced with the more inclusive ethos of mainline Anglicanism

Shawn said...

Yes, most students I have met at St John's have been Evangelical,. Being already Biblically informed means they are able to challenge the dated and unbalanced liberal ideology that that used to dominate. Thankfully new leadership at the College is more genuinely inclusive than it was in Ron's day, when evangelicals were subject to abuse and exclusion by liberal elites.

MichaelA said...

"However, it still does not deserve to be seized upon as an opportunity for us to criticize the management and affairs of TEC. This would seem to be entirely an internal matter for them, and not for the likes of us, in ACANZP to point out to our own people."

Just ignore it, you mean? One of the most prominent anglican churches in the Communion - why?

I suppose that if TEC's problems are considered, people in other churches in Australia and New Zealand might decide for themselves that TEC is not such a great example to follow. Is that your real concern?