Friday, September 11, 2009

I wonder if God finds it odd

that all these troubles in the Communion attract writing such as below? Or, perhaps, and I find this quite a cheering thought, God might be watching other developments in the universe such as these extraordinary stellar events recorded for us by the repaired Hubble telescope!

Here is another virtuoso performance from Jim Naughton of Episcopal Cafe, but on the pages of the Guardian's Comment is Free:

"Yet if Rowan Williams succeeds in his misguided effort to establish a single-issue magisterium that determines a church's influence within the communion, a significant risk remains. That risk is run not by the Anglican left, which has nothing practical to lose, nor by the Anglican right, whose leaders embarrass less easily than Donald Trump and don't fear public opprobrium. Rather, the parties at risk are the Church of England and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which may find themselves at the head of a communion synonymous with the agenda of the American right."


"The loudest and most frequently-quoted voices in the Anglican communion, then, would be stridently anti-gay and anti-Islamic; supportive of American military adventurism; against a two-state solution in the Middle East; in favour of teaching creationism or intelligent design to school children; sceptical about climate change; and adamant that homosexuality can be cured."

Some saliant points are made in Naughton's piece, but I find these paragraphs bizarre. A 'single-issue magisterium' is not on the agenda of anyone with serious thoughtful contributions to make to the acceptance of the Covenant (e.g. ACI); and the possibility of a magisterium for the Communion concerns multiple issues, not all of which are confined to North America, and (as readers of this blog will realise) some Anglican observers think the direction TEC is taking is not a matter of being misguided on a single issue. But, and this small point is worth pausing at, it is not particularly clear to dimmed wits such as myself that the establishment of the Covenant will necessarily involve a 'magisterium'!

In the second paragraph Naughton runs together all the 'out there' issues of the American right, elides them into the concerns of leading voices on the conservative side of the Communion, and, magic, the future of the Communion is going to be summed up in a primatial figure evolved from Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh and Palin (not one of whom, incidentally, as far as I know is either Episcopalian or Anglican!). The reality is that the Mark Lawrences, Kendall Harmons, Ephraim Radners, Chris Sugdens, Nazir Alis, Tom Wrights of the Communion and Covenant interface have no known views on (e.g.) supporting American military adventurism, though I imagine they have some thoughtful views about the best strategy for containing if not eliminating the threat of Islamic terrorism, as, indeed, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Hilary Clinton have!

I think conservatives in the Communion deserve better than this from media pundits on platforms such as the Guardian's Comment is Free. Naughton's piece waxes on about Akinola (with salient points well made) but the implication of the waxing is that Anglican conservatism is summed up in his approach to things Anglican and Nigerian. It is not. In particular, conservatives concerned to work out the theology of being Anglican in the twenty-first century, with that working out anchored into careful reading of Scripture, sensitive to the cultural ambiguities of discipleship (what to affirm? what to counter?) would like to be part of public discourse which kept doors to fellowship open ... but its hard to 'agree-to-disagree' with fellow Anglicans when opponents in debate resort to caricature.


Anonymous said...

Peter - Naughton's words surely come dangerously close to bearing false witness. His views on theological 'conservatives' include, I presume, +Durham.

In an interview with the left-wing UK magazine New Statesman, +Durham stated: "doing God in public is not about someone kneeling down and saying their prayers, and God saying, 'Go and bomb Iraq.'" He has been critical of US foreign policy on a number of occasions.

Denying climate change? In the same interview he stated, "If it is true that the whole world is now God's holy land, we must not rest as long as that land is spoiled and defaced. This is not an 'extra' to the Church's mission. It is central."

On capitalism - developing world debt is "the dirty enormous scandal of glitzy, glossy western capitalism".

A quick Google search of 'NT Wright + creationism' led to the following comment:

"I studied him very intensely for a few months, and found out his denies Creationism. He says while Paul believed in an Adam and Eve, they could have been at a previous stage of human evolution than Homo sapiens. He believes that women should be pastors and Bishops because some Greek scholars think that one of the 70 people Christ sent out (according to some ancient church lists) could have been a woman. He thinks charging interest is evil, and that the rain forest is being destroyed for 'the needs of Empire'. I could go on, but I'm frankly disapointed that while I was in South Africa people who call themselves Reformed not only read this guy, but can't see that he's just another apostate European socialist".

I would suggest that Naughton's analysis is as balanced and accurate as that of the above commentator.

Peter Carrell said...

Truth is the first casualty of war, and unfortunately too many Anglican pundits are treating the sensitive matter of Communion relationships as a war and not as a broken relationship in need of healing.