Thoughts On This Week’s News

Well, things may be looking up for this vulture. With the tightening of credit all around, it looks like will have a new Chapter 11 cycle…at least that is what I am predicting. So, Scott Purdy and I will likely be busy with things other than church in the next two to three years. As if I haven’t been busy lately. It is disturbing seeing emails come in predicting a Chapter 11 cycle and then thinking, okay, if a big Chapter 11 or a big fraudulent conveyance defense case walked in the door, how are you going to handle this?

LSU stomped Mississippi State last night. The Town Talk ran a story “Interceptionville” recounting the 35 to nutin’ victory for the Tigers. I caught the game first in the car on XM 200 and then on ESPN. It sure was weird watching college ball on a Thursday. I predict LSU’s toughest game during the regular season will be Alabama on November 3. However, the Virginia Tech game, while not an SEC game, ought to be a good one to watch next week. I think Mississippi State will have to beat Tulane next week or the Bulldog’s coach will get fired.

Yeah, I know. You didn’t come here to read any of this.

So, what’s happening in the Anglican world? All manner of things, not the least of which is the consecration of more bishops for the United States by African Provinces. Lots of bishops there, including Duncan and Iker, and Bishop Nazir-Ali of the Church of England welcomed the consecrations as did Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies.

However, I think my good friend Andrew Carey, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at GC2006, has more or less hit it on the head about the confusion all this creates. As Americans, we are infamously impatient. However, the rest of the Anglican world is ridiculously slow in resolving the presenting issues. So, I agree with Andrew that what is happening with further consecrations of bishops for the United States by other African Provinces is unfortunate, impatient, and creates confusion. I disagree with him that there was much else that could be done under the circumstances since the Executive Council and the House of Bishops have effectively rejected the Pastoral Council and Primatial Vicar scheme proposed in the Dar-es-Salaam Communique. Considering just how intransigent the Episcopal Church is towards the rest of the Anglican Communion, I have a real hard time blaming those involved in the recent consecrations. Do I wish it hadn’t happened? Sure. Do I have any optimism that the House of Bishops will provide pastoral oversight, both Primatial and Episcopal, acceptable to those who in good conscience disagree with the decisions of General Convention and the stances and actions of their bishops and their Primate? Nope.

The only question, for me, is whether the House of Bishops will do anything at all to comply with the requests of the Primates before September 30. I hope and pray they will, but I have very little faith in these bishops, past performance being the best indicator of future performance. Jordan Hylden, someone with whom I correspond by email, recently wrote this article for First Things and I couldn’t describe the situation better myself. He writes:

In many ways, these bishops—the so-called “Camp Allen” and “Windsor” bishops of the Episcopal Church—are at the heart of what will happen next. At next month’s meeting in New Orleans, they will almost certainly lead an attempt to pass resolutions in unequivocal support of the requests made in Tanzania. Conservative divisions, which have become manifest in recent disputes over the direction of Bishop Duncan’s “Network,” will at that point not matter. Despite their many differences of opinion, the entire spectrum represented at the most recent Camp Allen meeting will almost certainly stand together.

Will it work? And if it doesn’t, will Anglicanism fall apart afterwards? It is precisely this that falls in large part to Rowan Williams to decide. He and he alone is in charge of issuing invitations to Lambeth, and so in the end he is the one who will determine whether or not Anglicanism coheres or dissolves. If he tells the Episcopal bishops that their response to decisions made in common by Anglicans indeed will result in concrete consequences for their place in Anglican common life, then much hope remains for a true renewal of Anglican communion.

If not, then the unraveling of the fabric of Anglicanism will continue. Many wonder whether Williams’ intentions thus far have been favorable to those who wish to see the authority of scripture upheld and the catholicity of Anglicanism maintained. At present, many such are unsure that they have his support, even while many liberals wonder likewise about his adherence to their own cause. Thus Williams has become a sort of Rorschach inkblot, in which very smart people on all sides have seen very different intentions displayed. This is why the Camp Allen bishops, in their most recent meeting, asked that Williams would clearly state that Lambeth invitations for the American bishops are at stake in their decision.

If he does so—which will take nothing more than a statement to the effect that, as he previously indicated in his initial letter, invitations to Lambeth will depend upon a demonstrated willingness to abide by the decisions previously made there, without which the trust and cooperation necessary for such a conference will not exist—then it will make a world of difference. Many North American conservatives, currently pondering whether or not to join up with CANA or AMiA, will hold back, reassured that they have not been forgotten. Many in the Global South will do the same, as indeed archbishops Akinola and Orombi have indicated in their recent published essays. Lambeth will go ahead as planned, with the vast majority (save for a small cohort of Gene Robinson supporters) of Anglican bishops present, and the continuing process of covenant and ever-greater coherence will be maintained.

At bottom it will due to the reaffirmation by Williams that there is such a thing as an Anglican Communion; that it consists of forgiven and repentant sinners who, as Archbishop Michael Ramsey reminded us in his classic work The Gospel and the Catholic Church, have died to self and therefore find themselves born anew into the one body of Christ, which is the Church. In such a body words like “independence” and “autonomy” have no meaning, for as St. Paul taught us, the Gospel means that we have died and our lives are hid with Christ in God. We are utterly dependent upon the Body, for our lives and for our salvation, and so in all humility we seek one-mindedness in Christ, who prayed that we might all be one even as he and his Father are one.

It is in a way fitting that this task should fall to the archbishop of Canterbury, who sits in the chair of St. Augustine where all this began in England over a thousand years ago. No doubt those who hope for the renewal of Anglicanism will keep Rowan Williams in their prayers. And no doubt God, in his providence, will remain faithful to those who show themselves faithful, no matter how dark the road may become in the days ahead.

Amen.

A blessed Labor Day weekend to everyone out there. I am going to be cooking up a storm and being with family on Monday and the Iron Skillet competition occurs after a two year hiatus. I wonder what the secret ingredient will be?

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