Thinking Anglicans

a bridge too far?

Episcopal Café has drawn attention in ABC’s visitors to Canada on “aberrations south of the border” to a report in the Anglican Journal on the recent visit to Canada of “two pastoral visitors from the U.K. who were deputized by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams”. They were Bishop Chad Gandiya of Harare, Zimbabwe, and Bishop Colin Bennetts, the retired bishop of Coventry.

Rather surprisingly, the visitors appear to have included remarks in their report about a country they were not visiting, the USA. According to the Journal:

The visitors said they were also reminded frequently by bishops that “Canada is not the USA.” While the United States is seen as a melting pot culture where religious and ethnic groups are synthesized into “Americans,” Canadians “genuinely value and seek to live with diversity.” Differences between the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church were underscored, including the area of Christology. “We sensed that in Canada there was a general consensus on the nature of orthodoxy, with fewer extreme views of the kind that have led to some of the aberrations south of the border,” the report said. “Even the bishops who were strongly progressive in the matter of same-sex blessings insisted that they stood firmly within the creedal mainstream.” This, the report said, is “an encouraging sign that it allows for a more obviously Christ-centred approach to issues that currently divide the Communion, to say nothing of the wider church.”

Now read this article about the skills of Bishop Bennetts as a “bridge-builder”, Conflict resolution expert sent to observe at HOB.

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Geoff
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It may be tactless, but it would be disingenuous to feign ignorance of his point. Canada for the most part does not have the clown Masses, raisin cake offerings to Isis, and unitarian bishops that give ECUSA part of its bad rap, which is arguably why we have been able to press on with the project of including gays and lesbians fully without drawing the ire that has so often been the American church’s cross to bear.

Jerry Hannon
Guest
Jerry Hannon

I am rather shocked that the crass and slanderous diatribe, posted by “Geoff” at 12:36 GMT, has been permitted on this moderated site.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“clown Masses, raisin cake offerings to Isis, and unitarian bishops”

Please document. Places, dates, names.

So far as I know, the Unitarians don’t have bishops.

This reminds me of the accusations leveled by the TeaBaggers and Sarah Palin last summer: death panals! kill Granny to save money! guns will be seized! [actually quite a good idea] Obama’s actually [a] Muslim [b] not American born [c] part of a radical leftwing plot to subvert the Constitution.

Get off it.

Marshall Scott
Guest

I echo here my comments at Episcopal Cafe: This is troubling. I would also agree about questions about who (or whose positions) they’re describing as aberrant, but more to the point I’d like to hear where the visitors and/or the Canadians think we disagree on Christology. I think, too, that they end up damning the Canadians by faint praise. A good meeting but “theologically light weight?” Not working from “theological first principles?” Exactly what did they expect the bishops to be about? If I were a Canadian bishop I’d be curious and concerned about this report, and about the description… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Thank you, Geoff, for repeating yet more of the slanderous nonsense some delight in spreading about the Episcopal Church.

As far as I know, the oldest and most famous “clown mass” is held in the Church of England.

Others may wish to comment on this point. For my part, I point to Geoff’s comment and say, once again — Why are we so desirous of remaining in an organization that consistently abuses us in this fashion.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

On the other hand, the fully orthodox Ugandan church has very modest issues to deal with, such as child sacrifice in the service of the prosperity gospel:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8441813.stm

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

So now the issue is Christology? The other issue is really such a non-issue. That two people choose to live together in loving partnership is obviously something the church should be happy to bless. Oh, but they may indulge in immoral sexual acts? Well, can that not safely be left to an adult conscience? Do we police and monitor married couples — or forbid them to marry — on the basis that in the privacy of their bedrooms they may indulge in immoral forms of love-making (or contraception)? The Uganda scandal has given a clear insight into the madness of… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

“I suppose one has to ask whether the sexuality issue is something in isolation or whether it’s symptomatic of something more profound… There are a number of issues around authority and power. For example, the authority of Scripture, and how you interpret Scripture… So it’s more than just human sexuality, which happens to be the marker for a much wider discussion that needs to take place.” A remarkably double-edged statement. It implies that the side that refuses such discussion is the one alienating itself from truth. Thus it is a crypto-liberal statement that will incense the Akinola people. So this… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

As an American ordained and serving in the ACoC, I have to second Geoff’s point. The Canadian church has no one to compare with Jack Spong (though the Essentials crowd would like to paint Michael Ingham with that brush).

Malcolm+
Guest

Of course, the entire anti-American tenor of the recent troubles has nothing do with liturgy, theology, doctrine or ministry. It doeesn’t really have anything to do with the place off LGBTQTS in the life of the church. This is all about people on the extreme right in the US who want the Episcopal Church (and the Presbyterian Church and the United Methodists and the United Church of Christ) to abandon the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to preach instead the false gospel of the rligious right – American dominionism, manifest destiny and the unfettered free market). These extremists have invested… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

What unitarian bishops? The one that might just be (at a stretch), and might have been appointed, wasn’t.

And this is rubbish too:

where religious and ethnic groups are synthesized into “Americans,”

The United States maintains quite a strog sense group culture: of ethnic identities that seek out their own churches, for example.

This is simply an exercise on behalf of Rowan Williams’s deputies to try to isolate The Episcopal Church whilst keeping the Canadian Church in. It is pure institutional politics and the Canadians especially should not fall for such a tactic – divide and separate.

Pluralist
Guest

By the way, this report made ostensibly about the Canadians is quoted, but is the report itself available?

JPM
Guest
JPM

You know, I could well be mistaken, but I strongly suspect that badmouthing people behind their backs might not be such a good way to build bridges.

And Geoff, I have not heard of a clown mass taking place anywhere near me in well over twenty years, have never participated in a raisin cake blessing, and have never had a bishop who could not recite the Creed without crossing his fingers.

It sounds like what little you “know” about TEC is coming from the likes of Virtue.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“A: I suppose what we’re looking for is the patience that will enable this process to develop. [We’re also looking for] a genuine commitment borne out of love for the other person…. So in general terms, these are the things that need to be present if any of this is ever going to work.” – Bishop Colin Bennetts – Having been Baptized and Confirmed as a teenager in the Coventry, UK, Diocese, I am interested in what the retired Bishop of Coventry has to say about his task as Archbishop Rowan’s ‘healer and reconciler’ in the Communion. One should note… Read more »

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

“clown Masses, raisin cake offerings to Isis, and unitarian bishops”

What are you smoking? I’m sorry but these are untrue. Where on earth do you get this stuff? Raisin cake offerings to Isis? In an Episcopal Church?

I have no idea what you’ve been told at that seminary in Toronto but you should try visiting America and seeing how things are in this church. Or just try a quick visit to reality. thanks.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Jim Pratt
if all you can come up with is Bishop Spong, then there’s hardly a widespread abdication of creedal belief in TEC.

But I genuinely don’t understand it. If the issue is homosexuality, then Canada should be at least as much in the dock as TEC. If it’s not homosexuality, then what is it that’s blowing the Anglican Communion apart?

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

You see, I think Cynthia’s comment on child sacrifice is just exactly what we should be avoiding. I am quite sure that nobody in any of the Anglican African churches is sacrificing children. The witch doctors are outside the churches, and it is as unfair to blame those vile practices on Anglicans as it is to blame Peter Tobin on the C of E. If you want to say that those who live in a culture which has such a strong belief in magic may find it hard to appreciate the more empirical approach to morality in the West, where… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Driving a wedge between the Canadian and US churches might make isolation of TEC and the furthering of the GAFCON/ACNA agenda more achievable? Just wondering.

Hugh James
Guest
Hugh James

I wonder can anyone tell me: what is a “clown mass”?

Grumpy High Church Woman
Guest
Grumpy High Church Woman

This does seem to me a rather obvious example of ‘divide and conquer’, so let’s not give into it. By the way, on a visit to Canterbury within the last two years or so, I discovered a Clown service in the cathedral …. Oh, in my own English diocese it is well known that some evangelical (CofE) churches re-baptize people (cause the first one didn’t count, don’t you know – apparently baptism has nothing to do with the once for allness of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ but is some sort of rite of confession). So, let’s all… Read more »

Aking
Guest
Aking

I think we have much larger issues than same-sex unions. For example, are we ‘strangers and pilgrims seeking homes eternal’, or not? Do we believe that we are each broken and in need of healing and forgiveness?

In my US parish those propositions are by no means acceptable or agreed to. We do support same-sex unions, however.

BillyD
Guest

“”clown Masses, raisin cake offerings to Isis, and unitarian bishops”

Please document. Places, dates, names.”

Good Lord, am I the only one here with Google?

Clown Mass:

http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/webcasts/videos/worship/special-worship-events/clown-eucharist

Raisin cakes:

http://www.challengeonline.org/modules/articles/article.php?id=40

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

Oh no! Regular clown services discovered to be happening in Church of England.

Pictures here: http://www.ukstudentlife.com/Ideas/Album/ClownService.htm

Still, at least true and faithful Christians know that Canada remains a refuge of orthodoxy.

Thank God for Canada – land free from the clown heresy.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Lapin
fair enough, but what IS the GAFCON agenda if not to get all those nasty gays out of their pure church?

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I understand Rosemary Hannah’s wish not to misplace blame, we should all be careful about laying fault at the wrong door. But I would argue that the practice of human sacrifice – ritual murder – is widespread in some Anglican communities and that gay people are often victims. During the last Lambeth Conference I listened to the stories of two gay Anglicans working as stewards at the event. They came from different countries and did not know each other but their stories had the same ending. If it was known they were gay then their families would have them disappear… Read more »

ettu
Guest
ettu

Lapinbizarre – agreed – it is the old divide and then conquer in detail technique rather than face the “enemy” when they are unified – a successful strategy on the battlefield since antiquity and still primary in any conflict. Napoleon excelled at it –

Fr John E. Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E. Harris-White

Reading the above commemts I come away feeling the Rowan ‘visitors’ are in fact big brothers trying not to reconcile, but divide and conquer. Having lived in the UK all my life I am well aware of the cultural divide between Canada and America; and try not to make the big mistake of mistaking a Canadian for an American. Living now in Scotland I find the ‘antics of Rowan Archbishop of Canterbury confusing. He seems to have taken an about turn and become a fundamentalist protestant, renegading on his catholic heritage. This has been clear in recent appointments of English… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Cynthia’s comment on child sacrifice”
That was Charlotte’s posting.

Jack Spong is retired, although he does have a blog and continues to write.

Why not pick on poor old Bishop Pike? He’s dead, so cannot defend himself.

I’m still waiting for documentation of raison cakes for Isis. What IS a raison cake?

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Rosemary Hannah, it wasn’t Cynthia’s comment, but mine. I think now also that I shouldn’t have made it. Not even in a spirit of tit for tat. But what Malcolm said I fully want to endorse, and that is the reason I want TEC to get used to life without the Anglican Communion. The people who want us gone will slander us with any means at their disposal. Yes, the “real issue” keeps shifting — if they think they can get traction out of Christology, they go for Christology. If they think they can get traction out of something else,… Read more »

kieran crichton
Guest
kieran crichton

I think the comments at the top of this thread must be misdirected from somewhere else, such as the New Liturgical Movement or What Does The Prayer Really Say?

Those things seem to be more common in the ROMAN communion…

Doxy
Guest

Rosemary–the Anglican Church of Uganda seems quite willing to sacrifice children—as long as they are GLBT.

Geoff
Guest

Before everyone pops a vein: I’m not slagging off the Episcopal Church. I have great admiration for it. Some of the ensuing comments seem to assume my post was “more of the same” from the Virtuosity [sic] crowd, but that’s not at all my angle. Canada is culturally different from the US. This is true in civil society. Contra Pluralist, any high school social science course here covers the difference between the American melting-pot and Canadian mosaic models of immigrant settlement. It’s true in the life of the church as well – Canadians can be cautious, sometimes frustratingly so. Episcopalians… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

@Dennis: I’m not in seminary yet, nor have I committed to studying in Toronto, but I hope eventually to do advanced theological study in the US. I should very much like to gain some experience in an Episcopal parish setting, so I hope I will be able to take you up on your invitation!

BillyD
Guest

“Thank you, Geoff, for repeating yet more of the slanderous nonsense some delight in spreading about the Episcopal Church.” It’s only slander if it’s not true. Unfortunately, it’s not true. There *have* been Clown Masses celebrated in Episcopal churches, like Trinity, Wall Street. The Office of Women’s Ministries *did* post an unabashedly pagan “A Women’s Eucharist: A Celebration of the Divine Feminine” on their website, although it has since been removed. It does us no good (not to mention no credit) if we pretend that the Episcopal Church’s latitudinarianism is not sometimes abused. We *have* had at least our share… Read more »

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

Oh no! UK Bishop preaches pro-unitarian sermon (and preaches on texts from the Qu’ran too)

“…it is sad that sometimes an unfaithful or careless Christian way of speaking has led Muslims and Jews to believe that we have a doctrine of God that does not recognise the oneness and sufficiency of God, or that we worship something less than the One, the Eternal. In our conversations with Muslim friends, we Christians are rightly challenged to think more deeply, to think as our Egyptian Christian fathers did, about the unity of Almighty God.”

http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/13459.htm

Thank God for Canada. No heresy there.

BillyD
Guest

D’oh – “unfortunately, it’s true”

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

BillyD. It is one thing to acknowledge incidents and another to have outside supposed visitors for reconciliation make generalizing comments of this sort while having never visited parishes in TEC. I’ll bet if we look close we can find all sorts of aberrations in any number of the Anglican Churches, including the CofE, and what if we started generalizing in the same fashion. The Brits would be insulted. This is insulting and not reconciliatory in the least.

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

After all with this kind of generalizing, I might conclude because of certain bishops’ comments in the CofE that those folks all believe gays have demons in their nether regions.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

Thanks for documentation of clown mass, raison cakes, etc. – and their passe-ness and scarcity.

A great many of the ‘shocking’ things in Spong’s earlier writings had already been explored by J.A.T. Robinson, an English bishop.

Having lived for a while across the Detroit River from Windsor, I would agree to the cultural differences between our countries.

As for the visiting CoE bishops, they should go home and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc ect, instead of junketing about.

Marshall Scott
Guest

One further comment about the articles BillyD cited. First, “Challenge” is hardly an un-slanted news source. That publication has been in the forefront of anti-Episcopal Church commentary since its inception by those opposed to ordination of women and Prayer Book revision. True, it’s not as vitriolic as some others might be; but it definitely has a posture. Second, while the post cited was very recent, as BIllyD accurately notes the information in it is quite dated. In fact the the Rev. Mrs. Melnyk cited in the article has long since foresworn her participation in “Druidic” activities and has affirmed her… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

My Puerto Rican, Dominican, West African, Asian, and Arab students would be more than a little surprised to hear the USA described as a melting pot where differences are subsumed into a common identity. That certainly is not their experience, nor mine. Most Episcopalians, including myself, experience the church through their own parishes. Mine sticks very closely to the BCP and says the Nicene Creed every Sunday. Its last major controversy was over Anglican chant vs. plainchant for the Psalm at Sunday Eucharist. I strongly suspect that my parish is not exceptional. Perhaps clown mass and raisin cakes for Isis… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Cynthia and Charlotte – I am so sorry – I’m dyslexic but it is no excuse for carelessness. Please understand that I work as hard as any straight person can for equality causes, and have since I was in my teens. I accept and deplore that in many countries gay people are not only discriminated against but ‘disappeared’. I just feel that one way we can take a lead is by trying to resist getting dragged into name calling however tempting – and it is, really tempting. Let me say again that I think the lack of a stance on… Read more »

Lou Poulain
Guest
Lou Poulain

Geoff and BillyD, I’ll cede you your point that clown masses have happened, and the link on the National website was there. But the implication in your comments is that this is representative of TEC. THAT is what is so offensive, so don’t be surprised at the depth of reaction! What IS representative of the Episcopal Church in the USA is what happened at my “liberal” parish in my “liberal” diocese on the “liberal” Left Coast. We celebrated Eucharist with our bishop using Rite II, and she preached a sermon on the mystery of the Incarnation as the reason for… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

As some of the comments have alluded to, I think the problem is precisely in trying to use occasional abuses of latitude (good phrase) as a sample on which to substantiate allegations of “apostasy,” which the ACNA crowd needs to legitimate their existence. (ACNA literature, one notes, typically characterizes the gay debate as an “example” of this apostasy, but is invariably vague about what the other “examples” might be).

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

Rosemary – no apology needed – I wanted only to clarify who said what since this thread has gotten so long.

I too find name-calling oh so tempting when the issues are so close to home.

Thanks for your support and your contributions to this list.

BillyD
Guest

“Thanks for documentation of clown mass, raison cakes, etc. – and their passe-ness and scarcity.” These things (the clown eucharist and the raisin cake liturgy) happened within the last decade. Maybe it’s just an artifact of my advanced old age, but the early-to-mid-Noughties hardly seem like ancient history. And anyway, the rector of Trinity is still so tickled about the clown eucharist that he posts the video on the parish’s website. Nor do I find their scarcity all that comforting. OK, so only one official arm of the Episcopal Church published a plagiarized pagan ritual — does it have to… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

Erika, Jack Spong was my homiletics professor. Based on conversations in and outside of class, it’s an open question whether he would affirm the divinity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity as expressed in the creeds and Ecumenical Councils. He certainly has a lot of issues with the creeds. Despite that, he has been good for the church in challenging it to think about how its message is perceived in modern society (and Spong is definitely a modernist, not a post-modernist) and in challenging fundamentalism. He has also been a lightning rod for conservative criticism. TEC has a… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“BillyD. It is one thing to acknowledge incidents and another to have outside supposed visitors for reconciliation make generalizing comments of this sort while having never visited parishes in TEC.”

You make an excellent point.

BillyD
Guest

“One further comment about the articles BillyD cited. First, “Challenge” is hardly an un-slanted news source.”

I would argue that there’s no such thing as an un-slanted news source, but in this case you certainly have a point. Blame Google, though, not me – before my Google search I don’t remember ever hearing of The Christian Challenge before. It was merely at the top of the results.

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

I’ve read many of Bishop Spong’s books, and I often find myself in agreement with him. But then I’m Reform Jewish, not Anglican. I have to wonder if anyone asked him, whether he would say he is “post-Christian”, or at the very least does not agree with formulas like the Nicene Creed. In numerous of his books, he’s asking us to quit relying on literalist or formulaic responses and seek to find what Christianity means in a modern context. Is he throwing out the baby, the bathwater, the bathtub, and the house? Perhaps, but I can’t read his books, especially… Read more »