Sharp, pointy, provocative article in the Guardian by Deborah Orr. Not sure that I understand all of what she says. Contradictory in places? But here are some pointy bits:
A. "The Anglican church has always been a political organisation first and a spiritual one second. (Its worldwide communion, of course, is a consequence of nothing more spiritual than colonialism.) It’s no different to any other organised religion, whose earthly purpose is always the downward control of human attitudes and behaviour. Handily, if there’s a possibility that people can’t see any logic in the rules their leaders propound, religious organisations can simply shrug their shoulders and say that it’s what God wants."
B. "[++Welby's] admitting that it’s become impossible for Anglicans to agree on what God wants, but that it’s also important for Anglicans to carry on squabbling about it. The trouble is that this is as liberal as religion can get. It’s precisely because the Anglican church has lost its ability to be authoritarian (since this would have thrown it out of step with the liberal democracy it wants to remain an established part of in Britain) that Anglican conservatives are so furious."
C. "Religious conservatives are in the game precisely because they want certainty. They don’t want to sit around discussing the meaning of life, pondering what a good life might look like and considering what humans can do to foster their own progress. They want such matters to be off the table, because nothing should be allowed to disturb their delusion that they’ve got it all right and everyone who disagrees with them has got it all wrong.
Ironically, the great attraction of such a position is that once you assume it, you can justify the most awful behaviour because you believe your rectitude is beyond question, whatever vile things you’re actually doing. People are fond of saying that religion causes wars. It’s self-righteousness that causes wars, and religion is a marvellous tool for the self-righteous."
D. "And western Anglicans don’t want to look forensically at why religion isn’t working any more, any more than mainstream politicians want to look at why politics isn’t working any more."
E. "The trouble, of course, is that once you’ve won the liberal argument and everyone has agreed that people should be allowed to be who they are as long as they aren’t hurting others, then God is neither here nor there, let alone everywhere. And that’s the basic problem the Anglican communion faces.
If Lambeth Palace ever works out how to unite its worldwide communion in liberal harmony, then there will be no more need for God, or politics."
I think we have got the point, Deborah, thanks. Something along the lines of the more liberal the Anglican church(es)/Communion become the less use it has for God yet, conversely, where conservative Anglicanism dominates churches it is likely to result in a self-righteousness which leads to war. Hmm. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Now there is a point here. There is a form of liberal Christianity - not unknown to Anglicans - which is so doctrinally weak and pathetic that it begs the question why anyone would bother with it. There is also a form of conservative Christianity - not unknown to Anglicans - which is so doctrinally strong and lacking in human empathy that it scares others with its innate and imperturbable confidence, a confidence which if not self-righteousness, looks awfully close to it.
But, in the end, Deborah Orr's analysis leads to a 'straw man' argument. Well, two really. Actual Anglican liberal and conservative approaches are a bit different to her two straw men. Many Anglicans sympathetic to blessing same sex partnerships are conservative on doctrine. Many Anglicans unsympathetic to the possibility of such blessings are liberal on practice (e.g. loosely following the authorised services of the church). I have met some pretty conservative Anglicans in my time. I wouldn't describe them as self-righteous, let alone aggressively militaristic. I have met some pretty liberal Anglicans in my time, most of whom articulate belief in God which is distinct from atheism and agnosticism.
The ABC's challenge, I suggest, in regard to Anglican churches occupying separate bedrooms rather than pretending to be married in one Communion, is that if we remain in the same house we might converse with each other. Where Deborah Orr gets the idea that there is going to be shouting, I do not know.