I realise I am treading where some will not thank me for treading by doing some exploring of what is going on, may be going on, or could be going on in the archiepiscopal election in Sydney. Apart from being insatiably curious, there is a Kiwi angle to taking care to understand the Diocese of Sydney.
First, some of our clergy have trained there and some of our aspiring clergy wish to train there (i.e. at Moore College).
Secondly, there is a view around the traps of our church that "push comes to shove" if we divide because of, you know, that issue, then, for some, at least, Sydney will be the place to which to connect for episcopal oversight. This view, incidentally may or may not be held by some people who would avail themselves of the possibility, but it is definitely held by some who do not understand Anglican evangelicalism and consequently think such a link is a foregone conclusion.
Understanding Sydney then - from a Kiwi Anglican perspective - is both a matter of understanding what might have a considerable bearing on Anglican futures (plural, deliberate) in these islands as well as understanding why, were some kind of split to occur, it is likely that many Kiwi Anglicans in search of new Anglican arrangements might have nothing to do with Sydney at all.
Anyway, for some time now, I have held the view, though largely to myself, that there is something unhealthy at the heart of Sydney Anglicanism, which manifests itself in the way in which people feel intimidated from revealing what they are really thinking. A climate, that is, which does not encourage open debate about issues of the day for fear that to join such debate is typecast oneself as "not one of us".
I could be completely wrong. Though I think not. Partly because of some recent reading which highlights some interesting dynamics re the power of the prevailing orthodoxy in Sydney.
Fascinating reading, going into this period of election canvassing are these two posts (and the comments) by Andrew Katay: here and here.
Also interesting is this curious article by Tony Payne. Curious because it sets out to review the writings of the late John Chapman while also reviewing a recent book by Michael Jensen. Essentially it is Chapman = good; Jensen = bad, with the latter judgement arrived at by assessing that the book in question doesn't mention the work of the former. Curious indeed.
Here is the thing. I have been reading Tony Payne for years via The Briefing. I would describe him, in Katay terms, as a 'hard conservative'. In Katay terms I suggest his article paints Jensen as a 'soft conservative.
As best I can make out, returning to the peopling of the election narrative with a cast of characters, Rick Smith is the hard conservative candidate and +Glenn Davies is the soft conservative candidate.
Guess what? On the list of supporters for Glenn Davies we find the names of Andrew Katay and Michael Jensen!
Where I find Andrew Katay's analysis persuasive is when it focuses on the hard conservative fear of liberalism driving its activity forward to suppress soft conservatism because of the equivalence made between soft conservatism and liberalism, the former being deemed bound to become the latter. I have had a little experience of that myself!
So, in the end, my point in a recent post, that the election is basically over, is based on the deduction that the hard conservatism of the Sydney Diocese has enough energy and support to secure another archiepiscopal election.
From this side of the Ditch, I suggest it is precisely 'hard conservativism' which makes it unlikely that in any future split in our church, many, if any Anglicans will seek the sheltering support of Sydney. We are a bit soft!
Except on the rugby field :)
For an ABC post on the matter, read here.