Monday, 31 July 2006

ACN meeting in Pittsburgh

Updated Tuesday morning
Initial press coverage of this speech:
Episcopal News Service Network meeting opens with challenge to Canterbury
Associated Press Conservative Episcopal bishop says Anglican church at crossroads

The Anglican Communion Network is holding its Annual Council Meeting in Pittsburgh. You can read the press release about this here. The PIttsburgh Post-Gazette ran this preview.

The full text of the Moderator’s Address has been published. It gives a detailed picture of how the ACN views itself and the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Here is the section about the appeals for “Alternative Primatial Oversight”:

First, there is the matter of the appeal of seven Network Dioceses for an extra-ordinary pastoral relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, a relationship that most have described as “alternative primatial oversight.” After the Bishops and Standing Committees of the seven Dioceses lodged the request, the Bishops of the seven Dioceses worked together on a submission to Lambeth Palace which unified and developed the original requests.. This fourteen page submission, including appendices, was transmitted in the week of July 16th. The purpose of the appeal was:

  • disassociation from “innovating” ECUSA
  • spiritual cover through re-assignment of the tasks normally assigned to the Presiding Bishop
  • recognition of Communion standing from Canterbury as required in the ECUSA constitution
  • commitment to accountability under the Constitution and Canons as an “enduring” ECUSA, and;
  • the creation of a practical “cease-fire” in the American Church such that the Communion Covenant process might run its course.

Needless to say, we are hopeful about the Appeal, if not necessarily optimistic. This is a kairos moment in the life of the Anglican Communion, especially as regards the evolving role of its leadership by the Archbishop of Canterbury. If Canterbury can find a way to recognize the spiritual legitimacy of the claim of the Network Dioceses (and of the Network Parishes in Non-Network Dioceses) – together, one would hope, with the wider fellowship of emerging “Windsor dioceses” — to be that part of ECUSA that has “not walked apart” from the Communion – that has sacrificially and faithfully stood for what is the Communion’s articulated teaching and for what are the accepted boundaries of its order – then Canterbury sustains and renews his claim to be “gatherer” and “moral voice” of the Communion. To do this, he must bring along a strong majority of the Primates and of his own House of Bishops, for he is no pope. But do this he must. If he fails, any hope for a Communion-unifying solution slips away, and so does the shape and leadership of the Anglican Communion as we have known them. Our prayers are with Rowan Williams now more than ever. It is a kairos moment, a crossroads of Church history.

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Comments

"he must ... for he is no pope." Poor poor ++Rowan. He "must" do what Bishop Duncan wants. He probably "must" also do what Archbishop Akinola wants. So far, TEC has NOT told him what he "must" do.

I hope he ponders well the experience that TEC has had with Duncan and his fellows - that if you try to meet them half way, if you don't at once meet all of their demands, then nothing you have done is acceptable. They are not looking for ways to stay together with TEC, or to change it through democratic process, but for ways to replace it. Poor poor ++Rowan.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 31 July 2006 at 9:55pm BST

Tell me again how the 'Chapman Memo' is all a "reasserter delusion"? >:-0

If +++Rowan falls for this, then "let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon"! [Judges 9:15]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Monday, 31 July 2006 at 10:48pm BST

Who seriously cares what Duncan says? In three years he hasn't delivered a thing for the neo-Puritans. He doesn't have the guts to leave TEC, leave his pension, his cushy position, nice property, etc. and start over in a continuing church or translate into another church in the Anglican Communion. His lofty and pious talk is betrayed by the Chapman Memo of 2004 which shows the more earthy, and earthly, game place of the Rebellion.

Rowan Williams could end this whole thing right now if he simply stated that all properly consecrated bishops in the Anglican Communion are invited to Lambeth 2008...period.

If Williams would rather deal with the likes of Duncan, Iker, and Stanton, then while he's a brillant theologian, he's a lousy judge of character.

Posted by: peteford on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 1:23am BST

'spiritual cover'... 'spiritual legitimacy' ?

Sounds like an insurance salesman wrote the moderator's address.

Posted by: Matthew Hunt on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 1:36am BST

Sorry, I partially blame ++Rowan Cantuar for this mess. Why didn't he put his archiepiscopal foot down right then during, or right after, GC2006 when the 'drama queen' +Jack Iker appealed to him for Alternative Primatial Oversight. After all, +Jefferts-Schori was canonically elected by the GC's HoB and HoD. As Cantuar, ++Rowan has no canonical authority to appoint ECUSA's PB.

By pandering to the Network bishops, whose behavior a la Chapman Memo resembles that of Mafia bosses rather than bishops of the Church catholic, ++Rowan is one of the causes rather than the solution to the ugly divisions within TEC.

Ironically, in the eyes of the Network 'purple shirts', ++Rowan is as much contaminated as +Jefferts-Schori, inasmuch as he did ordain an openly gay priest while Bishop of Monmouth. Why allow oneself to be 'used' by such dishonorable characters whose orthodoxy is nothing else but misogyny and homophobia?

Posted by: John Henry on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 2:09am BST

What a delicious contradiction. The selfsame folks who so loudly assert that the Windsor is a legal basis for excommunicating TEC, and who just love to reference Windsor recommendations to lay down their reading of the law; now turn around and selectively defy the recommendation of that same Windsor Report. Conservative network TEC bishops and priests and lay people now cry out in great suffering, as if they were the poor weaponless civilians of Darfur. The singular remedy for this illness of differences that ails us will be that Canterbury itself needs to do what it formerly, and not all that long ago, said it expressly was advising other bishops not to do, at all, ever, until we had worked our differences out more calmly.

With Canterbury in the lead, what other bishops need hesitate about crossing provincial boundaries? Is anybody planning an incursion in Nigeria? South Africa? Canada? This is like watching the episode where the Three Stooges replayed World War II. Global map on the wall, and all.

The strong recommendation - ardent plea? - for Canterbury to move swiftly and decisively to cross provincial boundaries and interfere in the home-grown, local business of a constituent member of the communion asks Canterbury to contravene the Windsor Recommendations, in the name of those very same recommendations.

Wow. Gee. Wow. Gee. Wow. Blather, blather, blather. Gee.

This is just great stuff. You couldn't make it up if you were writing a daytime soap about the Anglican Communion, starring of course Canterbury, Nigeria, the Network and TEC. How will Canada get its walk-on part? Surely Canada is worth a whole two or three-part episode, following up on these network shenanigans? Whose baby will suddenly be discovered to be fathered by somebody else, outside the family? What will the rest of the family do? Who will maneuver in, just in the nick of time, to pick off this or that lovely pile of money or legacy property?

If Canterbury is going to go along with this move, it should demand big, big bucks at the very least - say a half interest in any funds or property that the network manages to use Canterbury's sponsorship to peel off in the name of having itself legitimized as the only real namebrand TEC?

Nice battlefield realignment strategy pincer move against Canterbury, too. Incredibly nice. Deft. Yes, no doubt. A clever and deft touch. How will Rowan Williams & Company deal with this round of conservative presto chango?

Stay tuned. And above all, try to keep your sense of the absurd, both Euro existentialist Kafka-esque, and plain old common sense funny bone.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 2:32am BST

I suspect that the dioceses who have requested Alternative Primatial Oversight are just waiting for Williams to deny their request so that they can move on to the next step in the plan -- primatial oversight from Akinola or other convenient Archbishop.

Posted by: ruidh on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 12:39pm BST

This is an extraordinary ultimatum.

“Do what we ask – or you will lose your crown!”

Fascinating!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 12:50pm BST

You are all losing the big picture. The Anglican Communion and some of its component parts are in the process of breaking apart. This is irreversible and inevitable at this point. If you quash it at the local level you will merely exacerbate the problem at the international level for TEC, for the ABC, and for the communion.

The only choices now are whether to make this a bitter and expensive division (and completely shatter the communion and the U.S. church in the process), to try and make it an equitable and fair division (and hopefully end up with something like the ABC's two tier system), or to gamble on something in between.

I'm not saying that these are agreeable alternatives, merely that these are the only ones left. I am not implying that TEC must choose the more peaceable approach, it can fight tooth and nail if it chooses. I am also not attempting to exonerate other actors--the attempt would not succeed with this crowd and I see no point in wasting time. The point is that there are only two real choices left (and maybe some points in between). Nothing will preserve the status quo communion-wide or in TEC. As liberals, the ball is in your court.

It's time for you to decide. The time for fudge is over. Fight like hell, and Devil take the hindmost, or . . .

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 3:03pm BST

It remains to be seen how many Primates in the "Global South" will be willing to break communion with Canterbury and accept the headship of Archbishop Akinola. My thought is that there will be very few, and those few will face a revolt in their own ranks. I have noticed a shrinkage in the ranks of the "Global South," if by that term is meant those churches willing to accept ++Akinola as their spokesman within the Anglican Communion. Those ranks will shrink even further once a breach with Canterbury is openly contemplated.

This leads me to a further thought. If we wish to avoid conflict, controversy, lawsuits, and the like, whether in the Episcopal Church or communion-wide, the best course of action would be to patch things up and go to work on a Covenant capacious enough to hold all the churches together in communion. Insisting that a communion-wide "divorce" is the only solution is not helpful. Issuing ultimatums that promote a communion-wide divorce is not helpful.

The proper name for such a divorce is schism, and it is not something we should openly advocate. Time was when Anglicans were opposed to easy divorce.

Posted by: Charlotte Pressler on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 5:26pm BST

This is an extraordinary ultimatum.

“Do what we ask – or you will lose your crown!”

Fascinating!


Ineed. So when is +++Williams going to step up and tell them that enough is enough. If the dissenting bishops in TEC don't want to follow the constitution and canons of the church they need to say so and leave, join the Nigerian church or whatever suits them and be done with it.
Then those Diocese can be declared vacant and new ones planted.

I doubt if TEC feels it has the right to tell +++Williams what he must do or not do. +Duncan must certainly have a high opinion of himself.

Posted by: Richard III on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 6:36pm BST

Charlotte:

Excellent. There's one vote for compromise and a two tier system.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 7:42pm BST

"Excellent. There's one vote for compromise and a two tier system." Steven

Three votes counting mine. However, two tier, doesn't mean/represent first and second class faithful Episcopalian/Anglicans...let's spell "two tier" out right here at TA! Why wait?

You wanna go first Steven?

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 9:32pm BST

Leonardo:

I think the difference between the two tiers could be as small (or as great--depending on your perspective) as the current issues in controversy. However, I suspect that it will be greater than that.

I suspect that after initial sorting of provinces and/or dioceses along this line, the first or inner tier will opt for a fairly strict statement of common and agreed theology. Likewise, I think the second/outer tier will (because of the removal of more traditionalist voices) tend towards a very loose statement of theology. This would allow particular national churches in the outer tier to exercise a lot of leeway in terms of the theology they adopt (within the boundaries set by the process--i.e., I do expect some deminimis).

I could be wrong, of course. But, those are my initial thoughts. And, frankly, I am not sure that this type of division would be disappointing or disagreeable to either group.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 10:11pm BST

Leonardo:

I'll elaborate some more.

I think there would be some base level requirements for membership in the Anglican Communion(?), but probably not much different from those currently extant.

Thus, the outer tier would have a group of provinces that were relatively free to develop (or innovate) theologically (either alone or in concert) within those fairly loose contraints, and the inner tier would develop theologically only in accordance with the much stricter standards they covenanted to follow.

From that standpoint, neither group would be interfering in what the others did theologically. However, except for sharing and supporting some mission and ministry work together, I don't think the two groups would necessarily be in "communion" except by their common link to Canterbury. I.e., I'm not sure that "covenanted" anglican bishops are going to allow those from the outer circle to minister in their churches. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the outer circle returned the favor.

So, can this any longer be called a "communion"? I don't know, but it is probably as good as we're going to manage for the moment. And, who knows. Most denominations are working to try and mend their differences. It could be that over time the two groups might, step-by-step, grow back together. I think there is more chance of this if we keep some kind of relationship going than if there is a complete break.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 10:44pm BST

Steven,

Please tell me about the:

"think there would be some base level requirements for membership in the Anglican Communion(?), but probably not much different from those currently extant."

Is this your idea for the convenant for ALL to sign? If so, would you roughly purpose one that is fair to all?

Thank you

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 11:54pm BST

I thought ++Peter Akinola of Abuja had already rejected the two tier plan & that ++Rowan Cantuar had given up on it (& denied that he ever really meant it).

When ++Akinola was in Pittsburgh he seemed quite put out at the Network being more concerned about property than "orthodoxy" -- & combining the first Seven Ecumenical Councils plus the 39 Articles as part of the doctrinal basis is more than the C of E was ever able to do when it had the power of Establishment -- this is all too confusing & I see a minimum of good will (an essential component of any "compromise").

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 12:46am BST

Charlotte Pressler, you write: "I have noticed a shrinkage in the ranks of the "Global South," if by that term is meant those churches willing to accept ++Akinola as their spokesman within the Anglican Communion."

Have you? I'd like to believe it to be so, but am not sure as to which primates/provinces you are referring.

Care to elaborate?

Thanks,

Posted by: Nadine Kwong on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 12:57am BST

I think we all should admit that this whole, messy notion of THE Anglican Communion becomes even more absurd with proposals for various orbits of constituent churches about a very nebulous center,the structure based on decisions by whom? That ++Rowan hasn't slapped +Duncan, +Iker, et. al. into reality is pitifully sad, and I believe it reflects his feeling that his position is one of only limited influence even in the C of E. Just tell them to shut-up and mend their own fences in TEC, or lose all credibility, ++Rowan.

Posted by: John D on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 1:09am BST

Steven mistakes my point entirely in his replies.

Posted by: Charlotte Pressler on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 1:14am BST

But, Steven, there are no "requirements" for membership in the Anglican Communion. To date, they are "in the Communion" due to recognition by Canterbury, based on a history rooted in the Church of England. There has been, literally, nothing else. There is some basis in membership in the Anglican Consultative Council, but even that is based on invitation from Canterbury, as is Lambeth. As for the Primates, membership is derivative - one is a member of the Primates because one's Church is already a recognized member of the Communion. These dissenting bishops acknowledge that by seeking this "extra-ordinary" recognition.

Should there be requirements? That sounds like matter for the Covenant process. However, the Network bishops, or at least those who have requested "an extra-ordinary relationship" with Canterbury, don't seem interested in participating. They are asking for recognition now as the "real" Episcopal Church, the "faithful remnant."

This is indeed "an extra-ordinary" arrangement: they wish to choose the ordinary, rather than having an ordinary recognize them. Archbishop Williams has acknowledged that he is not, and cannot be "ordinary" outside the Church of England. Their request is to be both rogue and have some pretence of recognition at the same time.

I hope that ++Rowan will turn them back to Windsor and to the mandate of the Council of Reference: that divisions within a province of the Communion must be addressed within that province first, and that the Council will not even consider a request where an earnest effort at reconciliation has not first been made there. To throw up their hands and say, "We're too pure to deal with TEC," hardly constitutes such a good faith effort.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 1:33am BST

Surely he realizes that it is the rump "Global South," together with the bishops of 4 or 5 Episcopal Dioceses, who will constitute the second tier of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Charlotte Pressler on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 1:34am BST

"However, except for sharing and supporting some mission and ministry work together, I don't think the two groups would necessarily be in "communion" except by their common link to Canterbury."

How do they share mission and ministry work if one group does not accept the other side's orders?

And more crassly, why should Americans in TEC - I assume in the seond and non-voting tier - further support the Compass Rose Society that helps fund the Communion in which they will have no vote?

And the common link to Canterbury may be illusory if the Network dioceses won't be linked with an ABC who actually is connected with TEC. You know, they might get gay or female cooties.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 3:54am BST

I am sure we are all aware that some sort of realignment is currently underway between and within the constituent churches of the Anglican Communion. The ancient divisions within Anglicanism (and Christianity generally) have acquired a sharper edge with the ordination of women, issues of human sexuality and lay celebration of the Eucharist just some of the factors that have turned these division into open hostility.

It became apparent something would have to give when here in the UK groups like Reform declared the new Archbishop of Canterbury a “false teacher”, life somehow would never be the same again.

The Anglican Communion has developed over the last 100 years and in recent decades this development has seen it beginning to move from a lose confederation of churches to becoming a denomination. What began as a plan to forestall what is now happening has, it seems, provided the mechanisms for its dismemberment.

From the earliest days the question has always been just HOW this realignment might work out in practice. It appears there are several agendas at play here and I do not think they fall into any easy or tidy categories such as “liberal” or “conservative” and the outcome still remains very uncertain for all of us who currently see ourselves as part of the “Canterbury Family”.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 9:55am BST

What are "cooties"?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 1:17pm BST

Leonardo:

What do you think is workable? I'm just throwing out some ideas in hopes that others will pick up the ball and run with it.

Charlotte Pressler:

I'm sorry I mistook your intention. And, maybe you're right about what ABC's intentions were/are about the first and second tier. That's not how most read it. Overall, an intersting slant on the issue . . .

Prior Aelred:

I don't think he gave up on the idea, though he might very quickly without a more positive response. And, as you point out, there are certainly good reasons to believe nothing can be worked out. Still, do you think it is worth a try? To my mind the alternatives are even less attractive, but others may differ . . .

Marshall:

I see a lot of folks (liberal and traditionalist) jockeying for bargaining position. From my experience, all negotiations start out with the opposing parties establishing starting positions (which they will often "insist" are non-negotiable) that are far to the left or right of any possible settlement or compromise. That's where the fun begins. Sometimes the positions really are as inflexible as they first appear, and sometimes not. It usually takes some time, and some bona fide attempts at "horse tradin'" before one really finds out what the "I won't go any farther" position of the parties actually is. We are a long way from that point. However, we will never find out whether something is possible without trying.

Cynthia:

I don't think anyone is willing to pay for things they don't have a hand in. But, grumbles aside, do you think it is worth the effort at trying to work something out?

Martin:

All true. I'm suggesting that we take the ABC's idea and bat it around a bit. Can it be made workable? Beats me, but there's nothing else on the table at this point but an even more radical and painful division, so why not try?

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 1:58pm BST

I hear the same loud noises, mainly from conservative realignment camps, telling us that the communion is sadly broken, and that realignment is our only option.

It all sounds so urgent, and so plausible, until and unless one looks closely. Then, although the various differences are real up to a point, the whole business of realignment looks pretty heavily drummed up from conservative urgencies, at the expense of almost everything else. And everyone else.

How many non-conservatively, stricly conformed Anglican everyone else's are there? Few or none, per the conservative realignment leaders. Maybe more, maybe many more, maybe the actual diverse majorities of the rest of the communion. Per an as yet undisclosed real reality of our continuing Anglican diversities. The clue? If we really were the simply, conservatively, and utterly ready to be conformed majority conservatives that realignment voices are always telling us we were, why would we need an organized campaign to do what realities on the ground did not do?

I still think the Canterbury solution is much simpler than not. Reaffirm the Lambeth Quadrilateral, acknowledge the loud conservative voices that are asking for ever so much more in terms of conformed this and that, along with the provisional provincial legitimacies of this or that change; and state once again that the sole way to move forward on this is to let everybody participate in the covenant process for the next ten years or so. Meanwhile, until that covenant is agreed, written, and signed; simply everybody still belongs, equally, according to their established provincial memberships. Those who first wish to throw out somebody else, before they will come to the table, are effectively declaring that they cease to respect the precedent of the Elizabethan Settlement which grounded the Via Media chuch path in the first place. Canterbury, then, simply needs to do what Elizabeth did, albeit lacking soverieng royal powers.

No doubt, we would hear grumblings and rumblings if Canterbury acted in this way. In the end, some would try to form a competing conformed new Anglican center - dissing Canterbury, perhaps vilely, depending. But the historic Anglican witness that tolerance and care and common worship/service can do - would still be made - against the heavy notion that the gospel can only be adequately proclaimed by power, force, and even on occasion coercion.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 3:28pm BST

"What are "cooties"?"

This is American kid slang for the idea that if you get too close to something icky, something icky will rub off on you - cooties.

Origin is probably adult slang for fleas. As applied to glbt or gender issues, it's recognition that sometimes the arguments against partnered gay priests, women priests, really come down to a visceral discomfort about the phyciality [real or imagined] of gay sex or, in the case of women, discomfort with women's reproductive plumbing.

I can remember reading during the run-up to women's ordination someone [male] writing something like, "But you wouldn't know, would you, if a female were having her time of the month when she was celebrating, would you?"

What the hell difference this would make baffles me - turn the wine sour? But then you'd know, I guess.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 4:55pm BST

"I don't think anyone is willing to pay for things they don't have a hand in. But, grumbles aside, do you think it is worth the effort at trying to work something out?"

I'm all for keeping everyone at the table, quarreling or not. Families are like that. When you start dividing the family into tiers, you're likely to end up with "King Lear."

I'm not for a two tier system. Any two tier system I've known in society inevitably gives privelege to some and takes it from others.

Separate but equal wasn't. I know. I grew up during segregation and did not have school with anyone other than whites until my 2nd year at university, when Duke admitted its first African-American freshmen.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 5:00pm BST

Unless this is utterly against list policy, I'm willing to bet Steven a fiver (question to self: can I still do this? or is it euros-only now?) that drdanfee's "simpler Canterbury solution" is in fact the future direction of the Anglican Communion.

Remember that ++Rowan said he was doing nothing but speculating when he brought up the two-tier idea, and remember that he's indicated the whole process of covenant formation might take eight or nine years. In the meanwhile, everyone will be expected to stay in and work together.

However, if the radical faction in the Network, together with Archbishops Akinola and Malango, decide to dig in their heels and refuse to accept Episcopalians and others as members of "their" communion, then the future will run more nearly according to my scenario.

To quote drdanfee's words, this small group will then "try to form a competing conformed new Anglican center -- dissing Canterbury, perhaps vilely, depending." My prediction is that few will join them in this, and, although I'm not a bettor usually, I'm willing to stand by it.

So Steven, are you on? If you will send me your full name and address, I will be happy to communicate with you in two years as to who has won this bet.

Posted by: Charlotte Pressler on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 5:23pm BST

combining the first Seven Ecumenical Councils

I look forward to demanding that members of the CofE's Protestant Reformation Society refer to Our Lady as 'Mother of God' or else be anathematised:-)

Trying to find somthing to giggle about in this mess....

Posted by: David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 6:18pm BST

Charlotte:

Maybe you're right. You certainly give me pause, because there is a lot of logic to your position. However, I think you are wrong. I think the split will be a lot wider and deeper than you assume. I also think the ABC is trying desperately to head it off. And, I think he realizes that the typical "fudge" approach will accelerate the split rather than serving its usual mind-numbing decision delaying purpose. Still, maybe I'm wrong. Time will tell I suppose. PS--I'm not a betting man.

David:

Awwww. C'mon--I'm just throwin' out ideas here! Fine tune as necessary.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 6:46pm BST

"I suspect that after initial sorting of provinces and/or dioceses along this line, the first or inner tier will opt for a fairly strict statement of common and agreed theology."

This is all well and good for a Protestant denomination, but what "on earth as it is in heaven" does it have to do w/ being ANGLICAN???

With "strict statements of common and agreed theology", a Christian *ceases* to be Anglican---whose essential, traditional *charism* is to be *broad and open* (behold, the Quadrilateral!).

I think I speak for most Episcopalians, in saying that I have no interest in being a second-tier of *that*.

I still think the best thing for all concerned, is for a African Independent, Quasi-liturgical (1662 BCP . . . plus speaking in tongues? ;-p) multinational denomination to emerge (from a good portion of the GS, plus their allies elsewhere: all of whom formally leave the AC---w/ their property in most of the GS, probably w/o it in the North).

I imagine a new branch of such an African church in the U.S.---w/ the usual vibrancy that "founder/pastor" or "founder/bishop" congregations have here---would prove very attractive (rapidly moving from the storefront, to the megachurch Big Box). I wonder why that would not prove a satisfactory resolution? (And we could still find a measure of "fellowship", I hope, via local/state/National Council of Churches...)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 6:55pm BST

The forecast we are hearing is that September will see developments that could make any discussion of a two tier communion or Covenant premature or unnecessary. While the details are sketchy this outlook is coming from several reliable sources.

September is near enough – though even if nothing of communion shattering importance does come to pass the likelihood of Rowan being granted the years to develop both seem unlikely. Robert Duncan is not alone in thinking this is a “kairos” moment and hoping to press Rowan into some premature decision or action – what is unusual here is the clarity of the ultimatum - if he (Rowan) does not strike while the iron is hot then others will – and we think, soon!

For the time being we are taking this seriously and have delayed putting any of our scarce resources into working up a contribution to the debate. It may be smoke and mirrors so those who see an advantage in opening talks should perhaps not be discouraged.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 6:55pm BST

Charlotte: I think that any breakaway initiative will also include Sydney, who I think are quite central to this process.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 1:09am BST

Steven,

I liked your enthusiasm for "trying" to work something out...you seemed passionate and willing to join in at the Lords table with everyone else. Was I wrong?

I'm still interested in knowing what the Convenant would include if YOU shaped and wrote it today Steven. Speak boldly (as you do on all matters) and please don't engineer it for ANY of the various audiences. Make it your own.

Anyone,

I don't think Akinola and his extremist accomplices are willing to wait for a "thoughtful/prayerful unity process" from the ABC or anyone else.

IMHO..many Episcopalian and Anglican Christians will be saying "no" to his Grace, the Nigerian Archbishop, when "push comes to shove."

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 3:35am BST

Martin: say wha???

Could you be a *little* less vague?

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 3:49am BST

David Rowett mentioned the first Seven Ecumenical Councils. Does that include the conciliar canons as well?

If the answer is yes, the 'purist' bishops +Duncan, +Iker et al. had better check with their wives first. Obeying the conciliar canons, the bishops would no longer share consortium with their wives. Their ladyships may not be open to loss of consortium.

Posted by: John Henry on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 8:47am BST

I have little more solid information to bring here on the September deadline.

The one thing Bishop Duncan’s address does not contain is a:
“And if you don’t do as we ask by September 17th then we will switch to plan B!”
Even so the sense of urgency is quite implicit – “a Kairos moment” one has to assume will not last until the Primates meeting next year, or Lambeth 2008 – and he quite clearly has a plan B!

Careful reading of his message would lead a reader to see that Duncan believes Rowan could and should “assume” the powers Rowan says he does not have in order seize the initiative and save the day. This is presumably because there are others who are not bothered/hampered with the legal framework or the whole picture and are willing to assume such authority. Canon lawyers will tell you that bishops frequently claim authority they do not have!

Any regular reader of Conservative American blogs will tell you that over the last few years there have been several events that were grasped as “Kairos moments” – when “victory” seemed assured. These have passed, Rowan has kept all at the table and the frustration has become explosive.

There have been some leaks; the trouble with leaks is they are notoriously unreliable. Sometimes information is carefully released just to test the water and when the official announcement comes it has no relation to the leak. At this time we are hearing that “ALL bishops with jurisdiction” will be invited to Lambeth 2008. Some might see that as highly provocative.

Another fact that may have some bearing here is that the Global South Primates are due to meet in the middle of September. Last time they said their meeting was just a Bible study and not a business meeting and that proved not to be the case – so who knows what might come of this?

For the time being that is all I am able to say and some might judge this as mere tittle-tattle.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 10:08am BST

John Henry posed the intriguing question ' Does that include the conciliar canons as well?'

I'm sure that such canons will be demonstrated as being bound by cultural constraints and therefore not binding!

It does remind me of a breakfast time conversation at Lambeth '98 (my source must remain anonymous but is impeccable) where a GS prelate managed to have his cake and eat it over sex being only for procreative purposes. His casuistry when my informer asked whether he therefore refrained from carnival knowledge of Mrs Purple once she was expectant rather than militant was impressive to say the least....

Sorry to lower the tone of the conversation....

Posted by: David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 12:28pm BST

JC:

Always nice to hear from you, but (as is not unusual) I disagree vehemently. The Anglican Via Media is not merely a compromise, it is a principled statement of where the Truth lay in a struggle between radical reformers and RC sympathizers--i.e., in the historic Apostolic Faith without later RC additions and the more recent Protestant subtractions. This faith and doctrine were memorialized in the BCP (including Ordinal, Articles, etc.) and the Homilies. That the Anglican formularies are primarily incorporated into the outline and structure of worship is part of the unique genius of Anglicanism. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

However, this did not end the struggle. And, ("I don't really care anymore, let me worship in peace") latitudinarianism eventually grew up as a middle ground between the two opposing parties. This would not have been so bad if Latitudinarianism did not constitute fertile ground for (and/or morph into) religious liberalism. And, interestingly enough, this "new" strain of Anglicanism has not only largely displaced the old parties in the West, it has even made substantial inroads into the old anglocatholic side.

So, here we stand, at least as I understand it (and I don't claim to be an infallible historian). But, pleeeease don't try to claim that historic Anglicanism is some kind of open ended sack without definitive doctrine and teachings! Just go back and read the old catechism and the Articles. Then start plowing through the Homilies, beginning with the first book.

I don't think the Latitudinarians intended to dispense with the historic faith and doctrines of Anglicanism, just avoid the internecine warfare of the puritan/anglocatholic factions. It's a sad thing to see their distant step-children try to turn Anglicanism into a doctrine-less rubbish heap (not meaning you of course).

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 2:03pm BST

Leonardo:

It's not my job to say who gets served communion next to me. If this determination was left to every snerk in the pews, we'd have a total mess. However, if Queen Lulubelle comes and kneels beside me at the communion rail in full drag and gives me a wink I'm liable to gripe about it afterwards. All of which goes to the fact that I think totally open communion is not a good idea. Where to draw the lines is another matter . . .

As to what I would want for a minimum covenant . . . hmmm. Well, you have to understand that I would want more rather than less if it were left up to me. That wouldn't suit everyone. I'd also want to draw it from the historic Anglican forumularies. So, I would probably just edit and combine the basic content of the historic Catechism and the Articles, smooth it out a bit and moderate some of the more anti-RC aspects (for the sake of ecumenicism), and go with that. I think a beautiful "Covenant Statement" could be constructed in this way that would connect with the historic faith and forumularies. But, once again, that's just something I'm throwing out for discussion.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 2:15pm BST

Martin:

I think you are right. This is a bit like a poker game where only certain cards are showing on the table. Nobody but the ABC is keeping anything like a poker face, but despite the rhetoric of the remainder its hard to tell what's bluff and what's not. And, even within that, its hard to know who's holding what and how far they'll go.

So, the situation looks very fluid from the outside, but it may be a good deal less fluid and complicated than it looks. On the other hand, it may be just as volatile as it appears.

All of which goes to show that we don't really know anything for sure at this point.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 2:21pm BST

However, if Queen Lulubelle comes and kneels beside me at the communion rail in full drag and gives me a wink I'm liable to gripe about it afterwards.

And I hope you would be equally miffed if (insert name of pneumatic D-list female celebrity)did the same! :-))

Posted by: David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 5:51pm BST

"Queen Lulubelle comes and kneels beside me at the communion rail in full drag and gives me a wink I'm liable to gripe about it afterwards. All of which goes to the fact that I think totally open communion is not a good idea." Steven

Oh my, such an example of inclusiveness and the imaginative projecting astounds me.

Firstly, the Queen you're refering to (is not a divorced member of English royal family) is in a committed homosexual relationship with NO DIVORCE...the Queen has a King, and "long live them both." I doubt any winks will becoming your way. Secondly, DO YOU REALIZE how many "advances" LGBT people turn-down regularly at Church? Well, at I don't split, spit or complain when a woman makes her moves (they like me) at Church...I just say "no, gracias" and give 'em an abrazo! Hey, live and let live!

Heterosexuals often are really funny. One might think there is
a shortage of REAL heterosexual attention directed toward them with so many quirky ideas about Gay "predators" trying to get'em in the sack that we hear about.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 6:44pm BST

If Queen LuLubelle were to give you a wink at the Communion rail, you'd only know it if you were looking, and I'd have to ask why you weren't absorbed in your private devotions instead of gawking around looking at the drag queen. Mother Julian of Norwich advises us to pay attention to our own sins, not those of others, since to do the latter is to put a veil over our eyes that prevents us from seeing God.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 7:20pm BST

David/Leonardo:

I thought I'd get a rise out of that one, but I apparently got one for the wrong reasons.

You misinterpret my meaning. (BTW-I just grabbed the name out of thin air--apologies if there is a real "Queen Lulubelle"). I didn't mean that Lulubelle was making a pass at me with a wink, I meant that Lulubelle was BRASSY. (Frankly, I don't think Lulu would've make a pass at me 30 years ago, much less now--which probably is just as well for both of us).

You want me to get personal, so I'm gettin' personal here. I DO NOT LIKE OSTENTATION IN CHURCH, AND THAT GOES TRIPLE FOR SEXUAL OSTENTATION, AND IT GOES HYPERBOLIC FOR OSTENTATION AT THE COMMUNION RAIL. I do not like women to come in halter tops, with tight jeans (with "kiss me" across the rear). I do not like guys to come with shirts unbuttoned to the navel showing off their chest hair and gold chains (though that is probably an image left over from the disco era). I do not like whatever loud obnoxious statement is being made on that T-shirt covered with slogans and gaudy pictures (though I'll quash my dislike with merely a grumble if there is a Christian theme hidden in there somewhere). And, I do not like Lulubelle's ostentation either. The fact that it is at the communion rail and is brassy--snarl! My small store of charity is strained to the max.

So, there's a list of things that get my goat in church! And, yes--I do make exceptions for the poor, the ignorant, the extremely young, the retarded, the extremely old, etc. In fact, some little old ladies I know have very little pleasure in life outside of getting dressed up for church in all their jewelry and furs. "Intention" and "deliberateness" coupled with lack of excuse are very important here. I just don't think Church is the place for "self" expression to reign paramaount. It's definitely not for ostentatious self-expression.

So, there you have it! Snarling and unapologetic prejudice.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 7:27pm BST

Leonardo:

BTW-You were so busy chortling that you didn't respond to the "minimal" covenant proposal I set out.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 7:38pm BST

"It's not my job to say who gets served communion next to me. ... However, if Queen Lulubelle comes and kneels beside me at the communion rail in full drag and gives me a wink I'm liable to gripe about it afterwards."

Why? And if you mean Louie Crew, that's not how he spells Lutiebelle OR Quean...

Guarding the communion rails from the unworthy has been addressed in the past by some Lutheran [and other] denominations in the US by using Communion Tokens. Once your pastor approves your worthiness and orthodoxy in terms of, say, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, you get a badge or token so that you can receive at other LCMS churches by showing it, rather then by being grilled by the pastor. Although these folks still practice closed communion, I think they don't use the tokens any more. I am told you can find such tokens, from various churches, on EBay.

So once Bp. Donut and cohorts decide what is pure doctrine, they can examine everyone and issue purity badges to the few, the proud, the super-orthodox. They and their cohorts have demonstrated already that they know who THEY will not come to the table with in the House of Bishops and other venues.

Maybe they could raise money for their new church by selling communion tokens ... or would that be simony?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 7:39pm BST

"Heterosexuals often are really funny. One might think there is a shortage of REAL heterosexual attention directed toward them with so many quirky ideas about Gay "predators" trying to get'em in the sack that we hear about."

Well I'm always open to offers, but regrettably no-one seems moved to make one...:-)

But I'm not able to relate to the Queen Lulubelle thing at all - as a curate my real phobia wasn't about the sexual orientation of communicants — I'd have been flattered by attention! — it was about the Lady Of A Certain Age given to wearing plunging necklines: in my early butterfingered days presiding at the mass, I knew that, if I dropped the host, as an unreformed anglo-catholic my instinct would have been to try and retrieve it....

THAT i can assure you was a far greater source of worry than Queen Lulubelle making eyes at me (who would anyway have had far more taste), since one would not have got me into the News of the World (= National Enquirer stateside) and the other would.

Posted by: David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 10:47pm BST

Cynthia:

While I don't believe in completely "open" communion, I'm not sure where to take it from there.

I don't think communion is for non-Christians, or even un-baptized Christians. It is a sacrament for members of the Church.

I also don't think it is for truly unrepentant sinners, but we're all sinners and nobody's repentance is probably ever perfect. Besides, how can you tell? By the time someone gets to the communion rail they have already (at least presumptively and with sincerity) sought and been granted forgiveness for their sins. Hmmm.

So, don't ask me to fine tune it. Most denominations that I know of that don't practice completely open communion restrict it to members of their denomination or maybe themselves and a few others. Some even ask prospective communicants to go through a question and answer session.

Its a tough question. However, if you are asking what will happen within a uniting, more strictly covenanting communion of Anglicans, I obviously don't know and won't even hazard a guess at this point.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 11:14pm BST

David:

Re: "the Lady Of A Certain Age given to wearing plunging necklines . . ."

Yup, you know what I'm talking about. Throw plunging necklines in with the rest of 'em.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 11:37pm BST

"You want me to get personal, so I'm gettin' personal here. I DO NOT LIKE OSTENTATION IN CHURCH, AND THAT GOES TRIPLE FOR SEXUAL OSTENTATION, AND IT GOES HYPERBOLIC FOR OSTENTATION AT THE COMMUNION RAIL."

Far be it from me, Steven, to object to someone else's personal "druthers" (which are just like a certain place in the anatomy, in that we all have 'em. *g*)

But when it comes to ostentation, and especially "sexual ostentation": when you consider "tax collectors and prostitutes", exactly how do you picture those whom Our Lord chose to break bread with? Not exactly resembling Carmelites or Amish! :-p

*Whomever* I receiving Jesus's Body&Blood with, and *however* they dress . . . I say, "Blest be the ties that bind"! :-D

[So, Martin, it's another (self-selected, by the self-important) *deadline* for which, with breath that is bated, we are waiting? Wake me when it happens... ;-/]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 11:56pm BST

Really, Steven, someone as knowledgeable as you should have been aware that "Quean Lutibelle" is the alter ego/ persona of Louie Crew. I took your remarks about "Queen Lulubelle" as a veiled hint that you would not want to receive Communion alongside Louie Crew.

You also refer to the admission of an openly gay man to Communion as "open Communion." That's not the customary meaning of "open Communion," which usually refers to the practice, forbidden by canon law, of admitting the unbaptized to Communion.

It is not appropriate to confuse the issue by speaking of the admission of openly gay and lesbian people to Communion as if it were "open Communion."

Posted by: Charlotte Pressler on Friday, 4 August 2006 at 12:07am BST

Merseymike says that he thinks Sydney will be in there with any breakaway initiative. Like everywhere else the property issue is huge. But in the Australian context, Sydney could buy and sell the rest of us - fortunate land grants up to the 1820s and good stewardship. It is said that for some years assets have been quietly moved from the Sydney Trust Corporation to other entities in prepaparation for such a split. Who is to know?
Meanwhile a very divided Melbourne, which is the only diocese in Australia that is large enough to even attempt to balance Sydney, meets again next week to elect an archbishop.

It is messy here too.

Posted by: john davis on Friday, 4 August 2006 at 2:36am BST

Steven,

Thanks for being interested in my opinion of the "covenant" that you laid out. I'm glad we are sharing about OUR Communion but I don't think I can critique your covenant...your ideals are yours to cherish.

Since the "covenant" talk surfaced I kept thinking about it. I decided it was impossible for me to think "covenant" in a political way...the covenant would have to stand for a deep spiritual challenge to me and my desire to worship God as a Episcopalian/Anglican Christian in a more truthful/open "fully present" way than I ever had before. For me that would mean I'd have to understand the guidelines or "challenge" of agreeing to live in our Church family from a very personal/responsible standpoint and stop blaming YOU. Resentfully blaming you for whispering/shouting sinner at me (and people like me) my/our entire life. I couldn't just write lofty things about my faith/hope and the Trinity but I'd have to have a hands-on/fully present challenge to commit myself to. It seems time to grow up in my faith. I need to live and love amongst ALL of you without being angry at any of you anymore. I couldn't/wouldn't commit to any secondclassness in my Churchlife. I also couldn't/wouldn't hide from my real anger at trying to accommodate/understand YOU and what YOU wanted/demanded from me during a lifetime of spiritual awkwardness. The God that I love doesn't want me to live in "pretend" anymore while doing your half-truthed-bidding. Despising people who have "acted" against LGBT people is a waste of my Christianity...God wants me to move on and stay focused of "my part" of the deal. I had to think more about what is needed from me...and forget about what YOU think I *should* do (sorry, but you've worn out your welcome inside my intimate personal life). What could I add to the Church? There had to be something ancient and disciplined that required me to get out of myself and be present in my everyday ministry of being a Gay man present amongst YOU without hating some of you for your selective Scriptural ignorance about people like me.

Here is the cornerstone of the "covenant" that I aspire to:

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."

(This prohibition includes perjury, slander, defamation and lying)

I decided to start here and then I noticed it might work for "all parties concerned" too. This observance would give all of US "time" to understand one another better in the fellowship and mission of Churchlife. I believe I could commit to halting the "defamation" against all of you.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 4 August 2006 at 3:11am BST

Steven ; for your information, there is no bar on gay people receiving Communion, at all, within the Church of England. This is irrespective of whether they are in relationships or not.

There would certainly be nothing like a majority for such a measure.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 4 August 2006 at 11:00am BST

More generally, there is no requirement in the Church of England for communicants to be members of the Church of England.
Baptised and communicant members of all Christian churches are welcome to receive communion in the Church of England.
Steven's comments about denominations restricting communion to their own members does not resonate with English (nor even British) Anglicans.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 August 2006 at 11:25am BST

Simon,
I agree entirely on the issue of ostentation. I go one further. I really have difficulty with places where it feels as though God is the embarrassing senile uncle in the back of the room who someone gets a cup of tea once in a while so He doesn't wander off while the rest of us get on with the business of patting one another on the back and telling each other how good we are.

I have a strong tendency to judgementalism, so this is why I tend to stay away from Evangelical places as well. I went to a "prayer and praise" a while ago, since God knows the Evensong that sustained us for 500 years is somehow no longer enough for evening worship, and found myself looking at all the people waving their arms in the air and all I could think was "When ye pray, be not like the pharisees." They didn't deserve that from me, and my soul can do without the damage, so I try to avoid such "near occasions of sin".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 4 August 2006 at 2:29pm BST

Hmm. Such a lot of mail, such a lot of misconceptions.

J.C.-

Wrong context--we're talking about table fellowship within the church, not saving the lost. Obviously, by the time someone gets to the altar for communion they should be converted, baptized, catechized, and confirmed. Your harlot would hopefully be an ex-harlot by then (with a different style of attire). Overall, I think you're being deliberately obtuse. You know who I'm talking about--folks who SHOULD know better, CAN do better, and (with no excuse) DON'T. BTW-I've never known a tax collector who was an outrageous or obnoxious dresser. If you find one, take a picture for me.

Charlotte:

Louie Crew wasn't on my mind when I wrote, but he might have been subconsciously there. Believe it or not, I'm not tremendously interested in the "personalities" on either side of this dispute. My focus is more on underlying ideologies, etc. However, you are free to make it Crew if you like. The point would be the same either way-i.e., it's not my job to determine who gets served next to me (that decision is made higher up); however, I don't like folks to make a fiasco out of church and distract from worship WHATEVER their persuasion. Such actions could include clown suits, immodest attire, coming in drag, and/or etc.

Re: Open Communion. The word varies in meaning depending on the denomination and speaker. However, I don't have any problem with your definition in the TA context.

Leonardo:

Shame on you. You're turning me into your "straw man" for purposes of venting accumulated spleen. I don't mind the venting (though it all seems a bit beside the point in terms of the topic under discussion). However, I would appreciate it if you would aim it at MR. GENERIC EVIL TRADITIONALIST rather than me personally. Sheesh! Now I've got all this spleen to wipe up! (That's a joke).

Merseymike:

Thanks for the info. That was not the subject of my post re: Lulubelle.

Ford:

I agree with you on a personal level, and I think you understand my complaint, but . . .

All:

Gone for a month or so. Duty calls. I will return Lord willing--so don't get your hopes up!

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 4 August 2006 at 3:43pm BST

Ford:

One last word on the way out the door. I should have made my "but . . ." more clear. I meant, "but when in Rome . . ." I.e., some practices may be OK in their context, though its not the context I prefer (for fairly obvious reasons). So, "context" presents another possible exception when considering my rant vs. distracting ostentation in church and at the communion rail.

Sigh. Formulating general rules that will fit all cases is seldom simple, even for codgerly curmudgeons like myself.

Steven

P.S.-Interesting news about that meeting of "Windsor Bishops"--Looks like the ABC is "turning over another card"--to trot back out the poker analogy used elsewhere. I wonder what else he has in his hand, and how the other players will react. /s

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 4 August 2006 at 6:06pm BST

>>>...God knows the Evensong that sustained us for 500 years is somehow no longer enough for evening worship

Funny how that works, isn't it? Suddenly the creeds that worked just fine for nearly two millenia are not enough.

Instead, we need a detailed confession of faith composed by Pennsyltucky fundamentalist divines.

Remind me again, please, who are the "innovators" here?

Posted by: New Here on Saturday, 5 August 2006 at 7:30am BST

You've really gotta admire the sheer brass-balled presumption of it all--the Bishop of Pittsburgh delivering an ultimatum to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It's like the dogcatcher of East Bugtussle, Texas, demanding that Queen Elizabeth marry him right this very minute or face the consequences.

I think that Steven is onto something--this new meeting would be an excellent way for Rowan to outflank the Duncanites. He could give his approval to a group of genuine conservatives--as opposed to pack of radical fundamentalists--and make Duncan & Co. look like the extremists they are.

I doubt it, though. That's far too clever for Rowan. As near as I can tell, his first instinct is to roll over for his enemies and sell out his friends the moment he encounters opposition.

Just ask Jeffrey John and Tom Butler if you doubt me.

Posted by: New Here on Saturday, 5 August 2006 at 9:17am BST

Steven said:
Your harlot would hopefully be an ex-harlot by then (with a different style of attire).

I must admit I can't make those sorts of judgements between ostentations of various sorts. For me, the 'ostentation' of the elderly lady sporting her furs is one with the younger individual flashing his (or her) assets — both could be said to be drawing attention to themselves, one to their bits, the other to their wealth (and we know what the Lord said (allegedly) about the latter!).

A lot of this is in the eye of the beholder. As Asimov once said, he had no problems with 'the female form divine' except he found it distracting. And I worry that if we're not careful we can get into that odd position of so wanting to protect men from the wiles of women (ie, men copping a quick eyeful) that we insist that women become invisible.... Not, perhaps, a path down which we wish to go.

I mean, what is 'indecent'? You'd get one answer from the kalahari desert, another from the nudist beach and yet another from the Taliban. Paul had an opinion for his culture, hence the stuff about hats. Should I excommunicate (on scriptural grounds!) those with piercings or body art? Mother Mary Clare of SLG at Fairacres wrote an excellent booklet on the subject of distractions in prayer, and I can't turn it into a moral issue except, perhaps, for my own soul.

I shall still hold FIRMLY onto the host when communicating someone with a low neckline, though.

Posted by: David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) on Saturday, 5 August 2006 at 2:13pm BST
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