Monday, 11 August 2008

Lambeth: one English perspective

Updated Thursday evening

Today, the Bishop of Winchester has published a lengthy article, The Lambeth Conference 2008 – and the future of the Anglican Communion A Report to the Diocese of Winchester although I cannot at present find it on the Winchester diocesan website, but only on the Global South Anglican website, and, in part, on the Anglican Mainstream website.

Anyway you can read it all here.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones has written about this letter, see Senior bishop predicts Anglican battle ahead.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 11 August 2008 at 6:45pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | Lambeth Conference 2008

Of course, from a liberal perspective, I think this man is not very wise. But I think that, if anyone, of whatever persuasion, counts up the first-person singulars, he or she will be dismayed by the egocentricity of the perspective.

Posted by: John on Monday, 11 August 2008 at 7:14pm BST

Remember, this Bishop of Winchester, who is so unyieldingly unrealistic and unpastoral in his attitude to his gay fellow-Anglicans ("we graciously allow you to attend our churches and put money in the plate, but don't for a minute think we approve of you in any way"); this is the same Bishop of Winchester who expended so much energy arguing that the C of E really had to be more pastoral in its attitude to straight people's unbiblical relationships, and relax its traditional prohibition on the remarriage of divorcees in church.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 11 August 2008 at 7:17pm BST

From Roffen’s Global South Anglican article: “… over and over again participants were encouraged to think especially of their “context” – with the tacit but clear impression that “context” could indeed, as some insist, powerfully influence Christian teaching; and that a world-wide family of Churches could continue with radically different teaching on the content of the Holy Life in different parts of the world, even when all are in communication in seconds through the Web.”

What does this really mean? That communication in Communion is not our context?? That we shouldn’t let either communication or Communion influence us???

“There was no escaping, in my experience of the Conference, the demanding reality that not only in parts of the world distant from each other, but often within the same Province, Bishops hold radically – I should say, incompatibly – different convictions on the use of Scripture, on same-sex sexual relationships and on whether people in such relationships may be ordained.”

Different? Really… What a shock!

“It was not surprising that these opposing views largely proved to govern Bishops support for, or their doubts about, the Anglican Communion Covenant. “Revisionists” oppose proposals that are designed to enable the Anglican Communion to declare its boundaries and hold member-Provinces accountable to their colleagues; “orthodox” on the other hand see such “discipline” (though the present draft text of the Covenant does not use the word!) as self-evidently necessary if the Anglican Communion is to remain together.”

The choice is yours, it seems… Shouldn’t be a difficult one, methinks.

“I expressed my concern that if this were to be the outcome of the Conference, more Provinces might well be drawn away from the See of Canterbury to the new structures that GAFCON had committed itself to bringing into being…”

A “fifth column” at work ; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 11 August 2008 at 8:29pm BST

This looks like an error:

By the second full week of the Conference I and many other bishops had come to the view that the programme as a whole was designed to ensure that the Conference should not seek to offer any clear guidance or teaching on any issue, because of the potentially divisive effects of our starting upon the plenary debates, and the voting, which alone would enable the Conference to articulate a particular view comparable to that of "Lambeth 2008".

Surely it should say Lambeth 1998

It is a pessimistic piece, narrow and dogmatic (as expected), probably realistic however but whereas majorities of many Churches could go with or against the position of TEC, valuing autonomy, diversity and actual core issues, the C of E could indeed splinter - and a reason why a Covenant and all of that won't add anything or be helpful.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 11 August 2008 at 9:54pm BST

"There was little if any sense that the Conference was bound by Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference..."

That would be, my lord bishop, because it was not.

Posted by: 4 May 1535+ on Monday, 11 August 2008 at 10:19pm BST

Unfortunately, the Bishop of Winchester seeks to present his views only on the global South web-site - to people with whom he is most in sympathy. Why is he not propounding them on his own Diocesan web-site? His desire to split the Church is sadly counter-productive to the desire of the ABC towards some sort of plan of careful reconciliation.

Winchester's arguments can be directly linked to his determination to support the status quo on the Statement made at Lambeth 1998 - which resulted in the obnoxious reference to homosexuality as being 'disordered' and not consistent with the teaching of the Bible.

In this, he is supporting the Victorian attitudes of the Church, which insisted on African women wearing (for them) inapproptriate clothing - for the sake of 'decency'), and which have empowered some African Archbishops to continue to denigrate the gay community. Abp. Orombi has publicly stated, for instance, that he will continue to insist on his right to 'evangelise' the Church in North America. Such arrogance. Such hubris!

By continuing his policy of supporting the G.S. contingent, and thus going against the majority of the Church, the Bp. of Winchester is not helping in the Gospel mission of reconcilation.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 11 August 2008 at 10:37pm BST

Yes alas, Bishop Scott-Joynt is still heir to the exclusive heterosexuals only faith - all the rest may visit, indeed visit each and every Sunday if they have the masochism to do so, but they must know - and know deeply in the fibers of their poor, unstraight beings - that they are less than, second class and one presumes, must be ready to behave in a properly subservient and pseudo-neo-kenotic manner especially when face to face in some parish life moment with their exclusively heterosexual betters.

Anybody who thihks otherwise, for whatever reasons, is just - well - carried away from real, true faith on some contemporary whim of - shall we say, MTV media manners.

Telling queer folks the real truth in love means telling them how wrong and inferior and incompetent they innately are as impoverished people with just those profoundly disordered affections or proclivities which fifty years of rather solid, careful hypothesis testing has not yet been able to quite pin down - so far as innate queer incompetencies are traditionally defined.

Oh we do have the full blown ideology of queer folks lesser status, but we cannot quite find the nothing but awful, lower forms of life which, sadly, it is their fate to have as a sort of lavender ceiling - relational, mystical, spiritual, yet incarnate in queer bodies which by all accounts must always, under every circumstances be nothing but celibate. Then queer folks best hope is that they can pledge a sort of celibate invisibility, perhaps coupled with an intensely apologetic and subservient yearning while they wistfully dream of being able to be nothing but straight - rather just like the good bishops who still preach this stuff.

Indeed, worse if possible, we educated moderns already know about a competing explanation for so many instances of lower queer living, every time the nasty traditional beliefs are internalized and lived out. Worse, we have researched these dynamics as we sought for the hypothesis tested evidence our worst beliefs loudly predicted. The bulk of the data so far is clear: queer folks are often busy living down to the nasty preachments that people like Scott-Joynt so stubbornly propagate in God’s name.

Alas. Even Scott-Joynt wants a split now, lest he be faced with queer folks living good in daily life, against all his preachments. He almost had to rub shoulders at this Lambeth.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 11 August 2008 at 11:10pm BST

Not sure I agree he is trying to 'split the church' as implied above. He seems to simply be projecting where the current divisions will take us. TEC is leading an agenda that is apart from the church's accepted teaching. Either the rest of the church goes along, or it does not. If it does not, it is TEC that has initited the split.

Posted by: harvardman on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 3:23am BST

A TEC diocese in Texas seems to think their future is not within Anglicanism at all:

Posted by: mark in sofia, bgr on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 6:37am BST

The poor darling was clearly out of his depth without an adversarial way of discussing things. Sounds like the moanings of one who was operating at a disadvantage, or attending the wrong event. Doesn't he realise that if he'd wanted plenary sessions and the chance to get down and synodical he should have gone to GAFCON........?

Posted by: kieran crichton on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 7:09am BST

Folks - it's time, a la Gandhi, to seek a truly post - colonial dispensation in these matters. Let Abp. Orombi et al therefore be hoist by their own petard. They can have their post-colonial cake and eat it, if only that we strive not to feel the need to live off the crumbs from their table. If we do have to labour under such terms, let us at least replace Indaba with Swaraj:

Indaba: is an important conference held by the izinDuna (principal men)

Swaraj: can mean generally self-governance or "home-rule" (swa- "self", raj- "rule") but the word usually refers to Mahatma Gandhi's concept for Indian independence from foreign domination. Swaraj lays stress on governance not by a hierarchical government, but self governance through individuals and community building. The focus is on political decentralization.

Posted by: orfanum on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 7:24am BST

It's difficult to know how to describe the Bishop of Winchester - dishonest? naive?

He is a member of the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

Other bishops in dioceses adjacent to him support their LGBT clergy (some of them Deans and Canons in Cathedrals). Some bishops have attended the Civil Partnership ceremonies of their clergy.

He has lesbian and gay clergy in his diocese. Some of them are partnered.

Either the Bishop of Winchester knows this and he is dishonest or he doesn't know and he's naive.

Since Lambeth I have been trying to understand the Church of England context, but it's impossible.

If the Bishop of Winchester had real integrity and believed in his theology and eccelsiology, he would have been leading a campaign against some of his colleagues (and the Archbishop of Canterbury and York) instead of allying himself with the Global South and GAFCON.

Posted by: Colin Coward on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 9:25am BST

The efflorescence of gay couples on every side these days is a vast threshold in gay culture and in our civilization generally. The churches should be appreciating this instead of agonizing within a cocoon of self-obsession. "Though the Conference was not, as I expressed my fears to the Diocesan Synod, “engulfed in, taken over by, the profound disagreements that exist among us around the legitimacy for Christians of same-sex sexual behaviour”, I found that these were never far below the surface, indeed that they were explicit, in every Bible Study and every meeting of the “indaba” of which I was a member – even while these settings enabled Bishops to express their disagreements courteously and respectfully to each other." Could it be that the good bishops projected his own obsession into every indaba debate. He sounds rather disappointed that the Conference was not engulfed in it.

" There was no escaping, in my experience of the Conference, the demanding reality that not only in parts of the world distant from each other, but often within the same Province, Bishops hold radically – I should say, incompatibly – different convictions on the use of Scripture, on same-sex sexual relationships and on whether people in such relationships may be ordained."

What is the big deal? Difference of opinions about sex and about the conundrums of that vast ancient library we call Scripture is perfectly normal and natural. It is only obsessives who keep scratching at the difference to make it a church-splitting matter.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 9:29am BST

Yesterday I read both Bishop Scott-Joynt's reflection on Lambeth and my own bishop's reflection. I am left wondering whether they were at the same conference. The one I believe is the message from my own bishop: it says very similar things to what I have read elsewhere, from both English and other bishops. It doesn't pretend that all was sweetness and light. It doesn't pretend that the sexuality issues were ever very far from the surface. But it does rejoice in new understandings of people which were arrived at, and new relationships made. It does express deep regret at the non-attendance of so many from Africa, without seeing this as vitiating the whole thing.
I know it's a cliché, but I suspect the Bishop of Winchester sees a half empty glass and on inspection finds the contents flat. The Bishop of G- sees a half full one, and what it contained was refreshing when sampled.

Posted by: cryptogram on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 11:01am BST

"Not sure I agree he is trying to 'split the church' as implied above. He seems to simply be projecting where the current divisions will take us. TEC is leading an agenda that is apart from the church's accepted teaching. Either the rest of the church goes along, or it does not. If it does not, it is TEC that has initited the split."

So, lay presidency does not initiate a split. The real presence (or not) does not initiate a split. Veneration of the BVM and intercession of the saints does not initiate a split. But what one single bishop in a small diocese in New England does with his naughty bits initiates a split?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 11:37am BST

Goran wrote at 8.29 pm 11 August:
"From Roffen’s Global South Anglican article:"

Small correction here (wouldn't want you to be accused of putting words into +Michael Roffen's mouth) - the article is by +Michael Winton - Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester.

Posted by: RPNewark on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 12:25pm BST

Winchester's very poor reflections and Durham's inability to keep his mouth shut make Rochester's silent boycott look like an act of positive support for Rowan Wiliams' Lambeth

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 5:51pm BST

"Small correction here (wouldn't want you to be accused of putting words into +Michael Roffen's mouth) - the article is by +Michael Winton - Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester."

Sorry about that, I was heading for bed (we are an hour before you) and probably mixed up the "chester" as well (as bad)...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 12 August 2008 at 6:29pm BST

"it is TEC that has initited the split." - Posted by harvardman

This canard is getting very tired, harvardman (Do they teach "Anglican History & Polity" at Harvard Divinity? Pity you didn't take it...)

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 13 August 2008 at 5:15am BST

"TEC is leading an agenda that is apart from the church's accepted teaching."

Um, see, much of what is preached by those on the conservative side goes against the "church's accepted teaching", yet there is no accusation that, say, Sydney has "initiated" a split. Why is that?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 13 August 2008 at 2:20pm BST

True, Ford. So called "lay presidency" represents a far greater break from Anglican doctrine and practice than anything going on in Gene Robinson's bedroom, but everyone just looks the other way.

Posted by: JPM on Wednesday, 13 August 2008 at 7:34pm BST

But lay presidency doesn't make those who are insecure about their masculinity say "eeeewwww!"

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 6:43am BST

Well, if people see nothing wrong with redefining the Trinity to keep a collar off a woman's neck, their understanding of what it means to be "orthodox" is a bit warped. What can you expect in that instance?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 12:03pm BST

MS-J's family has divorce in it like most, and it has to be acknowledged and lived with. Perhaps those who have had a son or daughter with homosexual inclinations can better understand the issues than those without. refusing to be exposed to this seems to be part and parcel of the necessary human element in this ethical issue.

Posted by: andy on Monday, 18 August 2008 at 10:35am BST

You know, Andy, I appreciate what you're saying, even agree with it, especially the bit about refusing to be exposed to things. But, after all this arguing and bitterness and hatred that is denied as such, I'm really sorry, but I just can't feel anything warm about someone who considers what I am to be an "inclination" much less an ethical issue. I am gay. That's what I am, not something I am inclined to, and while what I do with that sexuality may well have an ethical component, what I am, my "isness", is not an ethical issue. I am reminded of something I read by someone who had grown up gay around 1920. He knew what he was, he knew what everybody said about it. The he read a newspaper story of someone being sent to jail after being caught in flagrante and very much dilecto with someone of the same sex. He said "That's when I found out that not only was I evil and sick, I was also illegal." Sorry, I really don't mean to turn on you, you don't deserve that. But I am sick and tired of my humnanity being reduced to "inclinations" and ethical arguuments and discussions of whether or not I am fit for this or that, or of whether or not God loves me, and how everyone who has never met a gay person just knows I could change if I wasn't so willful and wicked. It's maddening. I am not an inclination!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 18 August 2008 at 8:15pm BST

Thank you!
I add to that that I'm also not exhibiting behaviour or chosing a life style.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 at 8:22am BST

Erika, what if we all started talking about how conservatives have an "inclination" to conservativism that they could fight if they wanted to? It'd be a lot more factual. Or how 90% of the population has "heterosexual inclinations"? It also amuses me that people who insist on adherence to the Mosaic Law in "moral" issues denounce the "gay lifestyle". After all, depending on the religion, believers are required to eat certain foods, to celebrate, grieve, fast and feast at specific times, dress in a particular fashion, not use certain language. The practice of any religion is a conscious choice to live a particular lifestyle. How then, for instance, can religious people oppose emancipation of gay people in legal terms as "enshrining a lifestyle in the constitution", an argument sometimes made? Religion being a lifestyle and homosexuality being a state, the argument logically leads to removal of consitutional protection for religion, a dangerous place for believers to go, I should think. That this does not enter their heads say a lot about thier attitude and the reasons for thier opposition to us.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 at 3:10pm BST

I'm convinced the "inclinations" tag came originally from at least partly bisexual people who genuinely have a choice. Combined with a strong moral aversion to same sex love they could easily experience a desire for a person of the same sex to be an inclination outside their normative experience.

And maybe if you see sexuality purely in terms of sex (how often to we use the terms synonymously!) you begin to talk about "behaviours".

From then it's only a short step to "choosing a lifestyle", forgetting that straights and gays can both chose a variety of lifestyles which can be absolutely identical, apart from the sex of the person they have relationships with.

And note that the words "behaviour" and "lifestyle" always have negative connotations. It never occurs to anyone that they are, in themselves, morally neutral. In the debate, if someone with inclinations exhibits behaviour and chooses a lifestyle it's always as bad as it can possibly get.

So so so so tiring!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 at 5:14pm BST

"I'm convinced the "inclinations" tag came originally from at least partly bisexual people who genuinely have a choice."

I'm afraid I can't be that Christian about it, Erika. For some, you are probably right. Yet I think that for many, this idea of "gay incinations" comes originally from people who are gay, but hiding it. They know they have "inclincations" but can't face it, so they hide in a marriage, genuinely loving their spouses, and perhaps wracked with guilt that they can't escape these "temptations", wondering why God won't just make them straight, since surely they pray for that as I did, and perhaps even jealous of the freedom of gay people who have worked through all the self loathing and fear and come to terms with themselves and refuse to be driven back to that selfloathing and fear. They can't understand why we won't make the same crippling choice they made to hide away in a marriage for the sake of social respectablilty. I'm sure we can all point to GAFCONites and others of whom we have our suspicions. Sometimes it ain't all that hard to read their beads. Straight people who struggle with (like that turn of phrase?) a mindset that to be gay is to be something with incredibly negative connotations can then use that terminology since they inderstand so little of what it actually IS to be gay. I suspect andy belongs to the latter group, but is genuinely trying to understand. That's why I wondered about the post I made earlier. I don't think he desereves anger, but it's just so frustrating to be treated as some sort of moral abstraction, to have my love for my partner reduced to nothing more than an "inclination". But you fellowfeel with that, I know. (Good old word I read in a book of rare words, and that I think needs to be revived).

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 at 5:54pm BST
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