The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sect Appeal

It's official; a rival "province" (quotes to denote the fact that we don't know of what it's a province) has been set up within North America, hoping to displace the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Self-styled "archbishop" Robert Duncan calls these "Reformation times," and states that "in Reformation times things aren’t neat and clean. In Reformation times, new structures are emerging."

How...very nice. I admit, this schismatic movement tries my charity to its utmost. That's not because the departees feel called to leave; I can, with great reluctance, understand that. (Not that I can agree with it; it seems odd that members of a tradition with its roots in a divorce and with divorced bishops among them, despite the words of Jesus quoted in Matthew are drawing the line at words of St. Paul whose applicability is far less clear. But I digress...). It's their refusal to coexist. I value the conservatives in my church, and hope they value me. We argue, we disagree, we play the Hegelian thesis and antithesis--and when the Spirit is with us, we reach a synthesis we neither expected. Being out of communion, squabbling over property and power, makes that impossible.

And, for traditionalists, they seem pretty cavalier about the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury. From Martyn Minns:
It’s desirable that he get behind this. It’s something that would bring a little more coherence to the life of the Communion. But if he doesn’t, so be it.

One of the questions a number of the primates are asking is why do we still need to be operating under the rules of an English charity, which is what the Anglican Consultative Council does. Why is England still considered the center of the universe?
It's not of course. But it is the center of Anglicanism, as the name may suggest to the observant.

Mr. Duncan says that a General Assembly will be held at the Episcopal Cathedral in Fort Worth Texas this summer. Of course, this assumes that the property remains in his dubious possession by then.

The passions these prelates have ignited may be enough to destroy the delicate balance of Anglicanism--a balance of Catholic, Broad Church and Low Church, Liberal and Conservative, traditionalist and modernist. Like Samson, those passions may pull down the temple around them. But what will be left of a nuanced, diverse community of faith in which all are welcome who hold to the core of Christ's message? Must we really all become hard-line conservatives to be good Christians? Is not this new "province" merely an updated version of the old saw that the Episcopal Church is the Republican Party at prayer--made over for the era of Sarah Palin?

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