Friday, August 31, 2007

Bob Duncan's summer reading

Praise for Strange Yokefellows

The Institute on Religion and Democracy has shed much light on how the NCC [the National Council of Churches], an organization founded for Christian unity, has become so divisive and divided over the years. It is a sad, but instructive telling.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

The IRD itself has its own yokefellows.

Fragmentation of the traditionalists

Two voices of conservatism have me wondering if Anglicanism would fly to pieces if conservatives ran show and revisionists were excised from the Communion.

Writing in Church of England News, Andrew Carey writes
Of equal scandal to the theological drift of the Episcopal Church into a kind of uncommitted unitarianism, has been the failure of those who are theologically orthodox to stand firm together in opposing that movement. Individualism and schism has marked the response of American conservatives to their denominational tussles. And I still don’t see how separate Rwandan, Ugandan, Kenyan and Nigerian adventurism on American soil really helps create any kind of solidity around central theological convictions.
Jordan Hylden at First Things goes farther,
And neither will the break be into two groups, one liberal and one conservative. Theological disputes over issues such as women’s ordination and the sacraments (not to mention old nationalistic and racial quarrels) will divide churches even further. Like the rest of Protestantism, Anglicanism will wind up as a confusing and quarrelsome alphabet soup.
And he writes of "Conservative divisions, which have become manifest in recent disputes over the direction of Bishop Duncan’s 'Network'."

Hylden is predicting what the fallout would be if the Episcopal Church does not conform or is not disciplined. Are the conservatives really so divided and undisciplined that without The Episcopal Church to kick around they would go after each other? Can Anglicanism really afford to go without the glue that the Episcopal Church provides? Who will be the first to go and start the unraveling?

Who thinks they possess the truth? Each of them does of course, rather than the alternative which is that each of us possesses a piece of the truth to share which the other. And certainty over the authority of scripture and over doctrine breeds contempt. Which leads, Chris Sugden not to revolution but to schism.

As Graham Kings writes from Fulcrum/Renewing the Evangelical Centre,
These consecrations seem to me to follow a 'Federal Conservative' model of the Anglican Communion rather than a 'Communion Conservative' model.

The supreme irony of this is that they put a higher priority on 'independence' over 'interdependence' just at the crucial time that the model of 'interdependence' is being pressed on The Episcopal Church and its House of Bishops.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

False: "200 of the 7000 congregations in The Episcopal Church have opted out"

Just because you read it in The Times today doesn't make it so. Here's the offending sentence,
More than 200 of the 7,000 Episcopal congregations in the US have opted out of the covenant.
When the Washington Post made the same error back in June epiScope was there to correct the record,
There's no hard evidence presented to back it up, for one good reason: not all, or even most, of those congregations--however many there are--ever were TEC congregations.

Monday, August 27, 2007

To Nigerian Synods on the Journey towards Lambeth 2008

It's worth taking a step back and remembering that the Akinola/Minns letter is addressed "to Nigerian Synods on the Journey towards Lambeth 2008." Many of us taken the letter to be intended for a wider audience. But what if we take it at face value that the letter is intended for the Nigerian Synods? The polemic -- for that is what it is, not a balanced litany of events leading up to Lambeth 2008 -- then is a piece of proganda aimed at stirring up sentiment against The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. At the same time access to information in Nigeria is limited relative to our experience. In short, Akinola seeks to pull the wool other the eyes of the Nigerians synods. He needs to in order to strengthen his base of support in Nigeria.

Yet who is actually writing this polemic to Africans? Martyn Minns.

When Akinola speaks for himself he sounds like this:
Let me also say this: that in our human existence in this world, there was a time Africans were slaves; but we came out of it. But what again followed? Political slavery, under colonial administration. Somehow, we came out of it. Then economic slavery: World Bank, IMF would tell you what to do with your money and your own resources. Now, it is spiritual slavery and we have to resist this. They had us as human slaves, political slaves and economic slaves. They want to come for spiritual slaves. Now we won’t accept it.
Why then does he need Martyn Minns to speak to Church of Nigeria? It smacks of reliance on western advisors, doesn't it?

Also look at what The Rev. Samson N. Gitau has to say in the Living Church. I am most interested in these excerpts:
The colonization of Africa also featured the entry of missionaries evangelizing the new-found world.
Even though the missionaries preached love for one another, they did not practice what they preached. As the saying goes, the missionaries “preached water, but drank wine.” This was figuratively as well as literally true. The missionaries also were reluctant to include the indigenous converts in the church leadership. In Kenya, for instance, the first Anglican assistant bishops were consecrated in 1955, more than half a century after Christianity had reached inland.
The missionaries’ reluctance to obey the word of God they preached, and their reluctance to include indigenous converts in church leadership led to the formation and proliferation of the so-called independent African churches. These churches broke away from the mainline churches. The locally founded churches coined new names that gave them their African identity such as “the African Brotherhood Church.”

So for the Global South, the saying is true, “once bitten, twice shy.” It must therefore not be a surprise to see the strong reactions from Global South Christians to Western revisionism.
Yet the actions of Akinola are to put more faith in foreign advisors than indigenous bishops, to turn away from the gospel of love, and to threaten to break away from the Anglican Communion.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Standing Firm offers a primer on document and computer security

Last week major two documents of the Anglican Dissident Network fell into enemy hands.

The first, "Agonizing Journey," was a public document attributed to Archbishop Akinola. The text of this document was originally made public on the Church of Nigeria website, obstensibly as a letter to Akinola's bishops. It was, however, clearly meant for wider distribution. What fell into enemy hands was the electronic version of the document in a format that allowed the Church Times to track changes and draw the plausible conclusion that much of the document was written by Martyn Minns. Both Standing Firm and Titus 1:9 played this discovery as much ado about nothing.

The second was the draft of a document left on a public computer at Camp Allen during the recent meeting there of Windsor bishops. The letter was addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, giving him the Windsor bishops' opinion of how he should handle his meeting with the House of Bishops in late September. The letter was designed to "manipulate" him if you will. (The public stance after the meeting was rather more humble.)

In a post at Stand Firm, Greg Griffith has now (1) given credence to the provenance of this second letter and (2) undercuts his own assertion that the authorship of "Agonizing Journey" is of no consequence. The post, "A Computer, Data and Communications Security Primer," contains this (... in the original):
Harris doesn't identify the bishop. Who wrote a letter on a publicly-available computer at Camp Allen.

And didn't save it.

Didn't delete it.

Just left it there.

For anyone to see.

Pardon me for a moment while I scream.


OK, there. All better now.

No, wait. One more scream.



OK, really better now.

This is perhaps the most boneheaded move I've read about in months. I don't know who the bishop was, although it's a good bet I know him, respect him, and am personally fond of him.

Still... what in the world were you thinking, bishop???

This falls completely outside the realm of not knowing about email headers, or document headers, or even the "track changes" feature. It falls squarely into the category of leaving your open briefcase full of private correspondence, or a large stack of cash, on a table and walking off. Unless the bishop left the letter on the computer as part of a cunningly devised scheme the genius of which I've simply been unable to discern, this should go down in the annals of bonehead history.
Lisa Fox shares similar thoughts to mine.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Ship God

Glynn Cardy has an opinion piece in today's Guardian that I recommend. An excerpt:
Much of the current Anglican debate is in house. It's a debate between those who want to protect the structure, strengthen the walls and keep foreign winds and doctrines out, and those who want to open the windows and doors to the world and be prepared to change time-honoured methods and doctrines in order to do so. The debate about homosexual clergy and blessings, for example, is largely about how accommodating the church can be without compromising its foundations.

Yet those of us who are pilgrim sailors tire of this debate, not because the issues are unimportant, but because the model is not true to our experience of God, faith and community. A house doesn't move. It isn't meant to. The model assumes that the land won't move either. It is essentially a static model, supportive of the illusion of an unchanging past and a predictable future.

The house God is at best a benevolent host who opens the gates to strangers, welcomes them, and dines with them. God may accommodate the strangers'
suggestions about rearranging the furniture, even knocking a hole in a wall, but the basic structure will remain unchanged. For God in this model is not only the host but also the landlord.

Compare this with the God who is the wind in our sails and the beat in our hearts. The ship God is less interested in structure and hospitality than in those excluded from structure and hospitality. Change is not a threat, inconvenience or prescription, but part of the divine nature. God is the energy of transformative love, and refuses to be tamed.
Read it all here, pilgrim. May pilgrims progress.