Monday, 31 December 2007
GAFCON and Global South
The following appeared earlier on the Global South Anglican website as a comment to this article, but has now been removed. I have added some typographical emphases.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Monday, 31 December 2007 at 11:15am GMT
7. I just received the following confidential letter by e-mail from an esteemed Primate. I am overwhelmed that my remarks on GAFCON – posted as a mere comment in the Global South Anglican web blog, would attract such swift rebuke from an Anglican Primate. I am not sure whether he himself would be so out of character to use such harsh words to a priest begging for clarifications from the authorities. After all what will take place in GAFCON affects my future. The metadata of his Word-document reveals that it was in fact drafted by another person – by an equally esteemed new bishop in America. The issues he raised are public in nature, and are decisive to the future of the Global South Anglican movement. They call for considered response.
First, I enclose his comments:
I can only use the very words you yourself have chosen to express my great concern at your public statement - shocked and saddened.
How could you possibly believe it to be God’s will to make such a public scandal against your brethren without first consulting with us? Common courtesy and politeness alone would have insisted on that and the scripture clearly teaches us to exhaust private attempts at reconciliation before doing something public.
You assume authority and superiority (neither of which are yours to assume) and assault not only the entire enterprise but the integrity of those involved.
You use rhetorical questions thus adding inappropriate scorn to what you have perpetrated.
On top of this you used the Global South website for a personal matter. With whose authorization did you do so?
This conference is designed to move beyond the current paralysis in the Communion and pursue mission with those who have a common mind about what Biblical mission means. We are not suggesting that we are the only ones who have the “real” faith to share, but neither are we so naive to believe that all who call themselves Anglicans agree with what the church has always described as the content of the faith and the mission of the Church. If the intention were to foment division, there are far more effective ways to do it than the plans we are making. In addition it is being set up by leaders who believe that the theological crisis (which you wrongly limit to being a North American problem) has damning implications in real people’s lives.
Given that every clear statement on unity, faith, and order has been summarily ignored, it is unreasonable to suspect that continuing to do the same things will bring different results.
Please seek God over this and recognize the great wrong you have done to those who have trusted you and never imagined you might behave in this way.
I leave aside his questions on the use of web blogs and authority in blog posting, which I consider as confusion on his part on the nature of web blog. The Primate, as a senior member in the GSA leadership team, should well be aware that GSA has two important arms working for the long-term strengthening of churches in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Communion at large. They are the Economic Empowerment Task Force and the Theological Formation and Education Task Force, the latter of which I am the chair. The chairs of both Task Forces work closely with the central leadership in the GSA Primates Steering Committee. For myself, I keep in touch with the GSA Primates chair and General Secretary on weekly basis over the past year – if not more – on our long-term work outside of the limelight. Successive GSA communiqués have commended the work of these two tracks.
In particular, the Primates have commissioned the Theological Formation and Education Task Force to produce a draft of the theological framework for an Anglican catechism. The committee with Primate-representatives from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and South East Asia, alongside corresponding members from Northern churches endorsed by the Primates, has been working very closely together (and very hard) for the past year on this project. We have taken great care to produce a unitive and building document for the whole Communion, that it would complement the GSA theological input to the Anglican Covenant processes. We took particular care in defining orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion in the document. The 60-page Interim Report Anglican Catechism in Outline (ACIO), with Key Recommendations—that has received unanimous endorsement from all members— has important ramifications for Christian discipleship throughout the Communion. It will be submitted to the GSA Primates very soon. The GSA Primates who went to China in October 2007 saw an earlier draft and have commended on its work in their communiqué. They “urge [their] dioceses to make it available to all strata of leadership in preparation for its formal adoption in the first quarter of 2008”. According to agreed plans, it will be released it by mid February 2008, if not earlier, to the whole Communion for feedback. The Final report is due to be released by June 2008. All these plans were agreed by the Primates at least six months ago. The GSA Chair and General Secretary have received the successive drafts and were consulted on all major decisions as the draft was amended and re-crafted.
The drafting committee met in Singapore from 11 to14 December 2007, I believe it was in the same week as the Nairobi meeting took place. Archbishop John Chew was with us throughout the meeting and gave us vital leadership. I do not think any of us meeting in Singapore knew about the Nairobi meeting.
I hope this sets the scene in explaining why I was shocked and saddened by the GAFCON Statement.
I ask pose your questions gently back to you: Did you and those in Nairobi consult all GSA primates on such an important conference on Anglican future? Could there be better coordination between Global South Anglican initiatives and that of the GAFCON organizers? Are you setting up a new structure (Global Anglican) other than GSA to move the Communion forward? Would you not think given the publicity that GAFCON has attracted (quite aside from my humble questions) as splitting the Communion, how would others in the Communion perceive the ACIO Interim Report that is meant to build up the whole Communion upon the authority of the Holy Scripture when it is released? (Have you seen the document?) Would they not be prone to dismiss it off hand as another radical proposal from the Global South? This would be a great pity and great setback to the good work of the Global South Movement.
The GSA Primates leadership team has a prime responsibility to work and discern together with all churches in the Southern Hemisphere. Its authority is derived from this mandate. Consultation is vital to this.
I suggest GSA Steering Committee to meet soon to clear up the matter.
Please be assured of my continued effort to work to the utmost in defending orthodoxy with you in the Communion.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.
Affectionately in Christ,
Posted by Michael Poon on 12/31 at 01:29 PM
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
It just supports my view of a parallel with Militant Tendency: real authors lurking behind public bodies, puppets, strings and puppeteers not being quite what they seem. Michael Poon asks perfectly reasonable questions and then receives a slapdown, comes into the public to complain of this extraordinary reaction against him, plus giving inference of the actual author, but well done Thinking Anglicans for preserving Michael Poon's comment comment after it was removed from the GSA website. He hasn't caused any scandal - it is already a public domain matter and sufficiently a scandal to start with.
The thing to understand about this Militant method of "doing things", which is to dodge around even friendly official bodies, and launch initiatives with only half-truths told about them, is that the users of such tactics aren't usually very good at the job. They leave their documents sufficiently in public (sometimes intentionally, however) so you really do know what they are up to, and they are also quite careless. If you are going to send documents in one name when they are written by another, it is rather sensible to remove the metadata first. Unless, of course, you want such real authorship to be known.
What an admirable job of sub-editing you have done, as well as rescuing this interesting titbit from the memory hole!
Also, since I haven't been following this story terribly closely, can anyone explain whether David Anderson has always been so very pompous or whether this was an effect of consecration?
Choosing to have a "grand" Christmas present to posture against their enemies has instead opened up the can of worms and deceit that funds a hatred theology that purports to support Christ but has no love of what Christ lived and died for. You have to love God, God's justice knows no bounds.
Yes indeed we know who the man is behind the curtain.
I pray that conservatives begin to realize that the "spirit" behind the neoCon movement is not the same Holy Spirit that has inspired Anglican inclusion for the past 150 years or so, but one of power over - the words, ideas, thoughts and lives of others.
It is always easy to look past the of transgressions of the Holy Spirit when those who are being harmed are those with whom you do not agree - but it isn't until the spirit of domination comes to call on you personally that you realize it's true nature and intent.
Here we are watching as conservatives are themselves exposed first hand to spirit of divide and conquer within their midst. Let us pray for them as we would ourselves.
Q: How can you tell Martyn Minns is talking?
A: Peter Akinola's lips are moving.
Not even in, let alone out of the starters' gate and they're at one another's throats?
I'm afraid I am rather cynical in these matters, bur events suggest realistic. I suggest:
The reason Michael Poon received such a nasty reply is to be found in understanding the Militant Tendency approach. When friends complain, give them a punching, and they will withdraw hurt, and then come along nicely afterwards. Show your friends who is the boss.
I would ask people to take note not only of this 'disagreement' within the grouping which styles itself 'Global South' but also of the continuing behind the scenes work that is being done to produce an 'Anglican Catechism'. Such a document could simply be the much talked about 'Covenant' wrapped in a more appealing manner.
Just taking a narrower intellectual angle for a moment, I fear that this teapot tempest helps demonstrate what I have long feared and suspected about the con evo realignment going on now. That it serves to shut down inquiry, generally, and makes asking questions less transparent than world conversations across our hot button controversies might require for good intellectual health. I suppose this should be little surprise, since after all, a good number of con evo realignment narratives have so little valued Reason, sometimes to the point of claiming that a con evo reading of scripture simply had no human hermeneutics (aside from a literalistic human obedience to brute religious revelation?), so a new Anglican orthodoxist reading trumps Reason.
Just imagine, that the essential Anglican stance should be that literalistic obedience trumps Reason. Now that would be a sea change, indeed.
Maybe what is done in the airless and authoritarian secrecies of the con evo realignment campaign shall be shouted from the internet roof tops, to recall a phrase. Alas. Lord have mercy.
I support Dr. Poon in asking his questions. I am bound to commend him as a fellow believer for the distinctively Anglican value of his asking, inside historic leeway.
Well we know, but we don't know. I'm inclined to presume that the presumptuous primate is Akinola and his amanuenis is Minns. Someone else clearly assumes the penholder is Anderson.
But however we view the details, the metanarrative is the same. The more hardline of the "conservatives" have started to direct the blades against other conservatives and "conservatives." Not content with excommunicating the Americans and Canadians, they seek to slap down any who disagree with their destructive agenda.
Watch for this internecine warfare to get ever more bitter. Remember, the only people the bolsheviks hated more than the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy were the mensheviks.
My, my...don't anyone DARE question what the leadership is doing, eh? Just shut up and march, soldier.
Just when I think I have the story straight, someone has come along and mention 'mensheviks'.
A technical point that should be borne in mind -- the "metadata" in MS Office documents typically does not actually indicate who prepared the document, but rather who was using the computer when the programs were installed. Few users go to the trouble of correcting the user name and so on unless for some reason it is specifically brought to their attention, or if there are several different user IDs established on the machine.
"the "metadata" in MS Office documents typically does not actually indicate who prepared the document, but rather who was using the computer when the programs were installed."
But it does show that the same computer is being used now. Bearing in mind the physical distances involved here that gives sufficient indication of who is likely to have written the document and who isn't.
Fascinating stuff at Stand Firm (thanks Lapinbazzar):
...some are "disgusted," some are calling/diverting into question the "what ifs" of OTHER "heretic bishops or primates"...and then, a "departing with TEC property" thief+ is "shocked" at the seemingly "illmannered" Dr.Poon...what a wonderful, and clear view of a greedy fundamentalist take-over-campaign gone SOUTH (as in GS) and their overly driven self-righteous bigotted followers being caught with their "string of garlic" down!
Oh, btw, did you read the one about the "metadata" lie?
They ought to try REALITY, it just takes a little getting used to.
according to Wikipedia:
The Mensheviks (Russian: Меньшевики, pronounced [mʲɪnʲʂɨˈvʲɪ'kʲi]) were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1903 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues of party organisation. Martov's supporters, who were eventually left in the minority at congress, came to be called "Mensheviks", derived from the Russian word меньшинство (men'shinstvo, "minority"), whereas Lenin's adherents were known as "Bolsheviks", from bol'shinstvo ("majority"). The split proved to be long-standing and had to do both with pragmatic issues based in history such as the failed revolution of 1905, and theoretical issues of class leadership, class alliances, and bourgeois democracy. While both factions believed that a bourgeois democratic revolution was necessary, the Mensheviks generally tended to be more moderate and were more positive towards the "mainstream" liberal opposition. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, preferred collaboration with other radicals and with the peasantry.
After several attempts at reunification and new splits, with many figures changing sides between the two groups, the struggle between them reached a new peak in the months before and after the October Revolution, as the Mensheviks were aligned with the Provisional Government, while the Bolsheviks were seeking to topple it. After the Revolution, with the Bolsheviks in power, the Mensheviks were left in an ambiguous position and were divided between supporting the White and the Red side in the Civil War. The party was eventually outlawed by the Soviets in 1921; some of its former members (including most leaders) emigrated and others joined the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), as it had been called since 1918.
Exactly, Craig. The metadata could easily indicate the name of the person who installed the software or even a previous owner of a hand-me-down machine. My Windows 98 is currently running a relative's machine in Kansas and my Office 2000 Premium is in South Texas on a machine built for another relative. I am fairly certain neither person has touched a single thing that would change the metadata.
Having formerly spent 20+ years in IT consulting I can attest that people often do not go through the trouble of changing a machine over or rebuilding upon receipt. In some cases the name in the metadata would be the name of the person who originally had the machine although the machine itself could easily be on its third or fourth user. Worse, regarding a laptop, users, will often borrow a laptop or even desktop to do work when on the road and hooking up their own is not convenient (forgotten power adapters in foreign lands, laptop at the hotel when they aren't, when collaborating in another office, etc.).
While consulting we often could not even get leaders of top Fortune 500 companies to make regular backups of critical data when it was made as simple as clicking an icon on their desktop and their critical docs were WAY more important than MS Word metadata on their laptop.
Comments on supposed "proof" in Microsoft Word metadata from anyone's computer only proves the real world ignorance about how people actually use computers on the part of the commenter.
I wondered where my 'Comment' had gone - in response to Fr. Michael Poon's revelation of his rebuff from 'one of the Primates' on the Global South web-site. And then I realised that, having withdrawn Michael's original posting, my comment would naturally have been withdrawn from the web, also.
What shennanigans are actually going on here? And who really is the 'sniper' behind the bullet?
What sort of 'Orthodoxy' can we expect from the Lambeth rivals at GAFCON? And all after Sunday's Epistle from Paul about love!
Father Ron Smith, Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand
Sarah's posting presents a postulation of openness and diligence that is appallingly lacking in many parts of the communion. I didn't go onto the internet or do "open" correspondence outside of the "approved" lines of communication until each and every avenue within the protocols had been demonstrated to be closed and without effect. I even wrote to Lambeth. God knows, I tried for 18 months.
There were two main reasons I began "open" correspondence. Firstly, my story was not unique to myself - I had first hand testimony to verify what was being done to me and that others were experiencing the same issues. Secondly, in my research to understand what was happening, I discovered that there are some cult-like cultural dynamics that occurs to "break" people like myself, and that the effects can lead to suicide, marriage breakdown as well as a plethora of lesser problems. It was appalling to discover that there are some leaders who know the extent of effects, but continue to use such aggressive strategies, all in the name of protecting their "divine" mission.
Re-read Jensen's paper - one of their hatreds is the spread of liberal theology. They fought against it in South Africa in 1987, so they sure weren't going to put up with it from the USA in 2007.
Think about who has fought against liberation theology and its implications globally for the last few decades. Think about who has been hurt and why and by whom as a result.
Think about what these people are fighting for. They are fighting for the right to annihilate this planet, insult and attack each and every occupant for as long and as militantly as they want, to dodge their responsibilities towards the environment or for justice.
They purport that all of this is Eve's fault: they and "perfect" Adam wouldn't be here but for her. Well, if they don't like this planet and its occupants, then they are welcome to sod off. Just stop destroying the planet and making existence miserable for the rest of us who are happy to be part of this existence. If they don't have the guts or ability to leave, then maybe they could just try being nice for a change.
In the meantime, they can take their "laws", "rituals" and "covenants" and shove them up their hypocritical sanctimonious derrieres.
All this fuss over the metadata! There are two conclusions one might draw:
a) American Bishop X wrote the words for African Bishop Y.
b) American Bishop X is a stingy git and donated his old computer to African Bishop Y thinking that an African primate wouldn't need a new computer, but be quite happy with a hand-me-down.
Father Ron, watch your word count (MS word can help), if it is over, it is cut, period. Nothing personal, it's just the way this site works.
On the question of metadata and who actually wrote/edited what document. It is sometime as fascinating to see where the "left-overs" went as to who ate the main meal. It is just as interesting to know where an obsolete computer went as to whom was its original owner. Similarly, it is interesting to know how how many "discarded" computers come from a "pure" impoverished diocese.
It seems that the minion of the "esteemed Primate" is calling for The (Southern) Cone of Silence.
You see - everything will work out in the end for the Anglican Communion. The homophobes and fundamentalist with eat each other up because they can only view the world in black and white and not gray - this being a fine example among others. They never had Anglican tolerance for difference so these things will take care of themselves. We have already seen Minns, the alphabet soup networks argue for and against Women's Ordination. Next with the Reformed Episcopal Church and the closeted Forward in Faith folks, they will be fussing over baptismal regeneration, the real presence, and God knows what - candles on the altar - the reason REC left the Episcopal Church in the first place in the 19th century. Hating gay folks can only bind their differences so much. Where's the popcorn - I am going to sit back and watch with amusement while they eat one another up and fragment into nonexistence. All will be well.
Maybe they communicate steathily using their shoe phones?
I am afraid that what is now here is little different from the endless divisions of Protestantism. The COE begat the Methodists who begat the Seventh Day Adventists. The Anglicans begat the Akinolites (or Minnsimums), who are trying but already failing to arrogate a Roman style curial power, and hence will beget Venablists and Poonists and John-Davidians. ABC said he feared a division along the lines of Eastern Orthodoxy; this was optimistic. If Anglicanism fails as a unity, the fragments will look more like Baptists: Southern, American, Free Will, Full Gospel. Sad for all of us who pray for the one catholic church.
It surely can't be healthy to get as worked up over blog comments as the unnamed Primate is, or some Standfirm commenters.
I must admit that my respect for Mike P, who is actually one of my countryfolk, has increased (albeit only slightly and from zero). he seems to want the GS folks work within existing structures, and with as much unity as possible. a very respectable desire.
Late in the day, but the analysis at your website is excellent, Pluralist.
On a side track, nice that Poon quoted Bunyan directly rather than using Dearmer's mutilation of the text. Sadly, a century's-worth of church-goers have now been deprived of hobgoblins and foul fiends.
Thank you for your kind comment Lapinbizarre. I'm puzzled though about when I could have done it earlier.
I made a reference months ago to parallels with Militant, and apparently someone else did somewhere. If you remember it got into a newspaper and a reference to an insider. I'm no more inside than I am inside the house when driving the car. Indeed thanks to the Archbishop's *!](^%& recently, I've never felt more outside.
I meant that I was a bit late acknowledging it's existence, Pluralist. Sorry for the unintended ambiguity.
(And apologies for the subliterate apostrophe in the post just made.)
Andrew refers to "John-Davidians."
I hope that sect is less destructive than the "Branch John-Davidians."
Dear Graham, JPM and Malcom+
Regarding your comments above, Archbishop Peter Akinola will like you and others so inclined to know that he has not been in conversation written or otherwise with Dr Poon concerning GAFCON.
I however believe Dr. Poon knows how to reach the Archbishop if he wants to.
Thank you for that helpful tidbit, Tunde.
Your boss doesn't seem to have been in conversation written or otherwise with the Bishop of Jerusalem either.
If I supported your boss's agenda, I'd be appalled at what a complete cluster this has all become.
Instead, I'm watching with scarcely veiled amusement.
Isn't Michael Poon's complaint the fact that Archbishop Akinola and others organising GAFCON failed to communicate with him and organised in secret. If Akinola had been in conversation, written or otherwise, with Michael, he wouldn't have been so upset. Being excluded, he had no idea what was going on.
This is exactly what Archdeacon Tunde has confirmed in his post. Thank you Tunde, once again, for being such a wonderful Director of Communications. Good to have you back.
Now where is NP? The 30th September is long past and I seem to remember him making dire predictions about the fate of the Epsicopal Church.
Those I addressed implied the 'confidential letter' mentioned above has Abp. Akinola' name on it.
Those of us above didn't so much imply that Abp Akinola's name was on the letter as we suggested that we had deduced it was Abp Akinola's name on the letter. Having not seen the letter, we had only our deductions based on incomplete information.
That said, it is helpful for you to remind us, Tunde, that your boss isn't the only reactionary faux-orthodox primate with a penchant for bull in the china shop histrionics when criticized.
The most important detail in this posting is what Sarmiento has boldened but for reasons which are different from those noted on many blogs. I would welcome reading an insightful analysis by a knowledgeable individual. Why does Dr. Poon have meta data analysis software? I am grateful that he had it, however, the fact that he analyzed the missive he received from a GS Primate indicates to me that he had serious enough concerns about the issue of authorship of documents that he found it necessary to make use of it.
How many of us have such software? When would someone deem such software a necessary application in one's "armamentarium"? Having become persona non grata in certain circles, Dr. Poon's posting leads me to believe that those who have a significant stakeholder position in this issue are participating with tools which are far more sophisticated than those of the average layperson.
There appears to be a significant amount of very serious intelligence work going on of which the average layperson knows little. Post a critique of a key player at this high stakes table and rest assured the sophisticated software to identify you goes into use.
For some time now, I have had suspicions but have refused to accept that this would be going on in the church. How naive of me. This is no different than corporate espionage. Dr. Poon has opened my eyes to its reality within the pious in the AC.
Thanks Sarmiento for reporting it.
Why does Dr. Poon have meta data analysis software?
The software in question is merely the facilities available within Microsoft Word for the purposes of tracking and reviewing changes made to a document when it is edited by several people. It is not specialised software neither is the accessing of this data corporate espionage.
The information of who edited the document relies on the details of the owner etc being kept up to date - something that tends not to happen, so I am not keen to accept this information as 'gospel'. However, multiple tracks do show that it is the work of more than one hand and seeing which parts have been edited is sometimes instructive.
It is the ignorance and carelessness with which people treat electronic data and documents which is more worrying.
The church is not alone in being subject to these problems. In my work I had to deal with several situation where information had been released inadvertently because the tracking information had not been removed before publication. And it is not just small organisations (3 men and a website) which suffer from this - ask the White House or Downing Street.
Kennedy (here) and I believe Sarah Hey (Standfirm) err here in their focus on the "ignorance and carelessness" of people. While indeed it is careless, this should not be the focus of their concern. I for one am pleased about the carelessness. It provides a window into the more disturbing issue of the behavior which is occurring. It is reprehensible. Period. If indeed a bishop in the states has authored the response to Dr. Poon, the carelessness is but a triviality in the face of the lack of integrity. That should be the focus of our outrage and attention. I am deeply disappointed and quite frankly disgusted.
I wonder what the other Word documents floating out there over the past three years might reveal. Is this ability to read the hidden material the internet/computer version of being a fly on that wall? lol.
Those who rail on about any "inappropriateness" of the results of the ability to track word processing edits, should have to explain why it would be inappropriate to reveal any other examples of revealed duplicity or -- in some other examples, if not these -- unlawful acts.
If a liar or cheat is "outed," there is nothing wrong in being able to demonstrate that.
Indeed, anyone who tries to excuse lairs or cheats or duplicitous bishops is thereby excusing dishonesty.
But, it would seem that is OK, as long as the duplicitous bishop is a defender of what these "righteous Puritans" define as "orthodoxy."
This is simply more male bovine manure from the fundamentalists who seek to change, and dominate, the Anglican Communion.
Hyacinth says 'While indeed it is careless, this should not be the focus of their concern.'
I welcome the information that has been revealed from the editing records from this (and other documents). It is usually the case that perpetrators of 'dark deeds' leave their fingerprints somewhere.
However, my more general concern is in the way in which personal data can be released despite the requirements of Data Protection legislation. Or the way in which technology is deployed without thinking through the implications and risks. Look at the way that mobile technologies and remote access have broken down the separation between work and home life with people feeling that they need to be available almost 24 hours a day. As Isaac Asimov said "It's not anticipating the motor car that's clever, it is predicting the parking problem."
btw, I speak as an IT specialist.
 see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7103911.stm