Saturday, November 5, 2011

What are Tikanga Maori rejecting?

The runanganui (synod) of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, also known as Tikanga Maori, have voted to 'reject' the Covenant. In all likelihood this means that our General Synod in July next year will not adopt the Covenant as that would require none of our three cultural houses of the GS to veto it, let alone a majority of the traditional houses of bishops, clergy and laity to approve in a majority (if not, to cover all the bases here, further voting by synods and the next GS, depending on what level of canonical embeddedness the Covenant was given). I could be accused of not facing reality by using the phrase 'in all likelihood', but as I read the report on the rejection at Taonga, I see the wording of the resolution acknowledges the possibility that GS may not agree with the runanganui. I imagine that the Maori representatives, as a for instance of change between now and then, would not want to vote against the Covenant in July 2012 if it turned out that doing so then would mean our church was the only one rejecting the Covenant!

Quite a bit of comment could be made here about the implications of this move, including an analysis which explained this move in terms of history and its unkindness to Anglican Maori, with specific reference to agreements poorly honoured.

Instead I want to note that the 'Covenant' being rejected by the speakers as their speeches are reported in the Taonga article is an interpretation of the Covenant and not the Covenant itself: for instance, the Covenant will not lead to any member church being ejected from the Communion, it is not about 'compliance and control' and it is about relationships (not against relationships). Also being rejected is the possibility of advancing Anglican ecclesiology in respect of communion in favour of advancing rangatiratanga as the cornerstone doctrine of ecclesiology.

Taonga carries other reports of resolutions of the runanganui, including one which seeks greater control of the St John's College Trust Board funds. Here further rejection of agreements is implied, namely our constitution itself as a Maori 50% share of those funds implies that the remaining two tikanga will share the other 50%. In my view, noting some previous conversations in our church, this is a very strong signal that Tikanga Maori, deep in its heart, harbours doubts that we should be a three tikanga church and wishes Tikanga Pasefika to be subsumed within Tikanga Pakeha. Arguments for a revision of our arrangements in this way are worth airing, for we should be a happy church at peace with itself rather than a three tikanga church. Would it be more fruitful to tackle our tikanga arrangements before attempting to work out our funding arrangements?

Paradoxically, in making such a move re SJC Trust Board funds with its significant implications for our future, the basis for Tikanga Maori doing so is the covenant between Maori and Pakeha known as the Treaty of Waitangi. Covenants have their uses, and covenants are indeed pregnant with possibilities for application which reject a part of the church that we do not think should be included in it.


Father Ron Smith said...

"(The Covenant) is not about compliance and control, it is about relationships - not against relationships"
- Peter Carrell -

Peter, 'compliance and control' ARE actually implicit in Section 4:2. In it's recent 'Guide to the Covenant'.

Reform in the U.K. has just issued, on their web-site, a simplified understanding of what the Covenant might mean for the different Provinces of the Communion.

Those who sign up to it will have to agree to certain basic premises - like Lambeth 1:10, which states explicitly that 'homosexuality is contrary to Scripture' and therefore, presumably, Provinces who approve of the LGBT community in their churches will be side-lined from full memberships of the Covenant. Simple as that!

One cannot have mutually tolerated Inclusion and Exclusion in the one Covenant.

With the continued articulation of Section 4:2, TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada (amongst other Provinces who DO believe that homosexuality is a given on the human biological spectrum, and therefore acceptable to God) could not join up.

Although Fulcrum does it's very best to make the Covenant sound like the best thing that could happen in the Communion, with the disputed Section 4, it may not survive.

I, for one, would not like to be a part of the Communion without the full membership of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada - who, because of their Inclusive ethos, could not sign up to the Covenant.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
The Covenant will not control those who do not wish to acknowledge expressions of the mind of the Communion. Member churches will be free to do what they will. In some instances they will be challenged by another member church, in which case the Covenant offers a pathway for the communion between those churches to be explored in a conversation which seeks to clarify what the basis for communion is in respect of the common mind of the Anglican Communion. In short, the Covenant is about our communion, not about compliance.

Brian R said...

You have a rosy view of some of the Anglican dioceses. If you had grown up in Sydney and been rejected by parish after parish due to your sexuality and your friends leave the church altogether, you would not want this covenant. I am overjoyed by the Tikanga Maori vote. I would rather see our province in communion with TEC and Canada than the homophobes of Africa and Sydney.

Peter Carrell said...

I have never found it helpful to use the word 'homophobe' when trying to improve relationships among Anglicans, Brian. I appreciate you have reasons to use it, but I suggest it contributes nothing to growth and development of godly love among Christians.

Father Ron Smith said...

Sadly, Peter, the people who have actually experienced homophobia are mindful of what some of the other members of the Anglican Family - Uganda (maybe Lambeth 1:10) - for instance, are saying, in a derogatory fashion, about gays:
'Satanic' was one word from Uganda, which, as an epithet, beats 'homophobia' into a cocked hat.

When virulent anti-gay comments - such as appear from time to time on blog-sites like 'virtueonline', that calls itself the 'Largest Orthodox Anglican' web-site, are bandied about, one cannot but feel some sympathy for the recipient of anti-gay slogans 'fighting back'.

Nevertheless, as you say, if all of us could be more moderate in our criticism of 'the other' life might be a little more bearable.

Brian R said...

Well what do you call a rector who proclaims from the pulpit that homosexuality is to be compared with bestiality just after you have read the lesson and when you confront him later, he removes you from the readers' roster and indicates he would prefer you worshipped elsewhere.
And then there are those "Anglican leaders" in Africa pushing for the death penalty. I have no godly love for such people but do try to pray that God may have mercy on them.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
I would not assume that rector was homophobic just because he acted in that way; and even if on closer enquiry it seemed there was a phobia, then I would still refrain from using the term 'homophobe' as I can see no fruitfulness in the use of that term for future fellowship with that rector. 'Homophobe' is a judgmental and aggressive description of a person and as such is unlikely to contribute to a climate in which change in our church might occur; as Ron seems to concur!

Father Ron Smith said...

Perhaps 'Hatred', Brian might be a better word to use. Such people as your former rector may not actually fear Gays, but he certainly sounds like he disposes them! Not quite up to the level of 'Satanic' though - like GAFCON leaders in the Church.

Father Ron Smith said...

Oh Dear. Butter-fingers again!
That word beginning with 'd' in my last ought to be 'despises' not 'disposes'. But then, perhaps we should worry too much about being despised - Jesus 'was despis'ed'.

Bryden Black said...

Brian, I myself do know something of Sydney; and I apologise for what you describe - sincerely. There are other kinds of power plays that I could similarly describe however. And not only in that city but also in my old diocese of Melbourne. Being on the end of any such power play is humiliating and not edifying - either to the recipient, or to the perpetrator, actually.

I also happen to be a formal confessor - and friend - of one who deems his sexual orientation to be “gay” but who also knows his calling, as a Christian, is not to indulge in acts which are likewise most unedifying. His response furthermore to various Kiwi dioceses, who are presently indulging in synodical motions seeking to justify sexually active same-gender relationships among Christians and even their leaders, is a profound sense of betrayal.

Personally, I’d rate that betrayal to be on a par with your own expressed sense. There are very few ‘winners’ in this current clash of world-views and concomitant, disparate values, as far as Christians go. Whether Ugandan (I have lived and ministered in Central Africa, BTW), American - or Australasian - we are all witnessing these days among the AC a most serious “rejection” of any due means of catholicity of our Christian Faith. THAT is the sobering reality ... the upshot of our hubris.

Bryden Black said...

“What are Tikanga Maori ‘rejecting’?”
What I’d seriously like to understand is what are those rejecting the Covenant actually seeking to affirm, institutionally - given those parties, all those parties, who seemingly wish to “walk apart” from each other? Or is it just plain too late for any such Plan B ...?! IN which case, ‘kyrie eleison’ ...

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
It's Kyries all round, I think.
As for 'affirming' institutionally: cf. comments here about wishing to be in union with TEC. A sort of 'anti-Covenanted' Communion in which the binding on the basis of doctrinal and ethical agreement is likely stronger than if there were a written agreement.

Bryden Black said...

Re your very first comment above on this thread Ron:

See instead perhaps:

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden, you speak of a confessee of yours whom you deem as not wanting to 'indulge in acts which are most unedifying' - presumably you meet any sort of sexual acts, such as those which heterosexuals are allowed to indulge in?

I find some sexual activities of heterosexual couples also to be 'most unedifying'. Why should gays be singled out as assumed guilty of sexual acts which are deemed, by you, to be abhorrent, when 'straights' are equally capable of all sorts of sexual activity?

God must sometimes wonder what some of his human children really think about the joys of sexuality, that God has designed to take place between committed human beings - and not just for the task of procreation, but for pure joy. (See the Song of Songs).

Are you one of those people who think that pro-creation is the only proper objective of human beings making love? If so, maybe you should become a Roman Catholic.

However, I suspect that many opposers of the whole idea of any homosexually-oriented person being 'in love' and indulging in sexual activity is somehow 'bent', and not really a part of the 'Redeemed'. However, that cannot be so. Unless you believe that homosexuality can in no way be intrinsically part of God's creation, but is a wilfully acquired taste for sex for one's own kind.

In the regard, I suspect that you confessee/gay friend is the type of 'eunuch' Jesus speaks of as so 'for the sake of the kingdon'. Let's hope he can keep his vow of celbacy. But don't condemn any person who is a 'eunuch from his/her mother's womb' - whom Jesus also described.