Thinking Anglicans

Lambeth: two American perspectives

Katie Sherrod has written on her own blog, That Wild Uncontrollable Force.

Watching Lambeth unfold was like watching one of those foreground/background optical illusions where, as you stare at the picture, either the profile of a beautiful young woman moves to the foreground or the image of an old woman moves forward while the young woman’s image disappears. It is almost impossible to see them both at the same time.

Lambeth was the same-there were two Lambeths occurring simultaneously, one out in front, the other in the background.

The Lambeth of the Indaba and Bible Study groups was the one in the foreground most of the time. But at key points, the Lambeth of the Windsor Continuation Group [WCG] and the group writing the Reflections documents moved out of the background into sight…

Jim Naughton has written at Comment is free The archbishop’s hands are tied, not ours.

The politics of the church make Rowan Williams act against his beliefs on gay marriage. We don’t have to do the same.

Extensive research has proven that I am not the Archbishop of Canterbury. Neither, in all likelihood, are you. These facts, in hand for some time now, acquired new significance yesterday with the revelation that Rowan Williams, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury, believes, what a great many Anglicans believe, namely: “that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might … reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.”

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Counterlight
12 years ago

Two excellent essays.

Institutional integrity is a golden idol with feet of clay. This gay boy is not going into that Tophet.

karen macqueen+
karen macqueen+
12 years ago

Dear Katie, Thank you for putting in persepctive something that has troubled me for the last week,i.e. the two tracks at Lambeth: Indaba groups and the Bishops on the one hand, and RW and the Windsor Continuation Group on the other. Were these two processes really headed in different directions, or are we not yet fully informed about what our bishops had to say in their various groups? My concern here is inspired by the video conference of the Presiding Bishop of TEC and Bishop Mark Sisk of New York, in which they seemed to agree that there “was no… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

I highly recommend Mr Naughton’s piece. I find it wise and sympathetic.

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
12 years ago

Yes, the fight must go on — Gene Robinson has his truth. But the methods must not be such as destroy church unity. The two Lambeths analysis is convincing. The Robinson side should build on the first Lambeth and keep up the critique of the second Lambeth.

Cheryl Va.
12 years ago

Sherrod’s article left me bemused. How can one possibly tar the Episcopal Church with the same brush as the Bush administration? I would have thought the tactics of the Bush administration were much more in keeping with the conservatives than the liberals. You know, the whole world is going to end unless you adopt our paradigms, of course the “enemy” has weapons of mass destruction, who needs the truth or a fair hearing when we know we are right, might is right, why play fair if our interests are at stake, God didn’t intend for there to be justice for… Read more »

Sarah Flynn
Sarah Flynn
12 years ago

Mr. Naughton, The Archbishop premises his call for sacrifice on the principle of ‘kenosis’ the self emptying of Christ. Where he fails to make his case, however, is equating the sacrifice required of lgbt persons who have literally been sacrificed by the churches for generations, and the sacrifice required of those bishops intent upon self aggrandizing expansion of their domains by incorporating conservative parishes and dioceses in revolt in the US and Canada. The archbishop needs to be told ‘we already gave’ when it comes to time to ask the Americans and Canadians to sacrifice some more. Such a delay… Read more »

drdanfee
drdanfee
12 years ago

Wow I just had a fact flash. I am not the Archbishop of Canterbury either. So as an Anglican believer I do not have to sacrifice my worship, witness, work, and committed relationships – all to live down to the trashy views some bishop or believer might have about me, say, in Bishop Minns church in Virginia, or in some Southern Cone parish or alleged diocese headed up by you know who. That Rowan would ask us to sacrifice is remarkable enough, insofar as a great many believers and non-believers are already doing it every day – not least those… Read more »

John
John
12 years ago

Dear ‘Spirit’, Sometimes I think you are an agent provocateur for Rottsweiler Ratzinger. These are two spirited, honest pieces, distinguished, moreover, by wit (especially JN’s). Not much of the latter is evident on the other side. There’s a great tension here. Living as I do in the UK and – especially – in the diocese of Durham, I’m terribly aware of it. On Sunday, we (= partner, me and 3-year old) went to communion in the Cathedral. It was wonderful (no doubt, partly because of the absence of T Wright). We sat behind a largely black family (one white mother).… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

Well put, Dr Dan.

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
12 years ago

“Three of our gay friends were there. Anyone who is not an imbecile or a hypocrite could instantly reognise them as gay. No one – in that context – gives a hoot. That is Anglicanism at its magnificent best. It connects only with one side of Lambeth 2008.” Much the same can be said of the Anglican church in Tokyo that I occasionally attend and even of many RCC churches. But if Durham Cathedral were to have a public blessing of a gay union the other side of Lambeth 2008 would raise its ugly head. Negotiation of official change in… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
12 years ago

If I were a member of TEC, or the Canadian Anglican Church, I would feel exactly the same as Katie Sherrod and Jim Naughton. The American and Canadian Churches have opened up the way for Anglicans to finally come out of the closet about the incidence of homosexual relationships, not only among the rank and file of our committed membership, but also in the ministerial echelons of our Church. (Honesty or Hypocrisy?) The Church has to grow up into Christ and deal with the world as it is today – and not the world of the Bible. If we could… Read more »

Simon Dawson
12 years ago

Spirit of Vatican wrote “Negotiation of official change in church teaching and practice, which I too, unlike Pope Ratzinger, believe to be long overdue, has to be negotiated in a theologically and canonically responsible manner. Patient persuasion and gradualism is what Rowan Williams has explicitly recommended.” Tell that to Ghandi, or to Martin Luther King, (or in fact to Martin Luther). Tell that to Jesus, who obviously should not have procesed into Jerusalem on a donkey and preached in the Temple, inciting the crowds, but should have sat down to years of patient negotiation with the scribes and pharisees in… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Furthering Simon Dawson’s comments to Spirit of Vatican II:

Thirty years isn’t enough time for persuasion and gradualism? Is fifty? One hundred? At what point is one permitted to say “enough” and act?

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: Thirty years ago AIDS was still the “gay disease”. Thirty years ago the notion that gays could be married in any state of the Union would have been completely absurd. Thirty years ago the idea that gays could openly serve in the military would have been shouted down and the supporters treated as pariahs. Thirty years ago it was perfectly socially acceptable, even commonplace, across America to blatantly discriminate against gays in the workplace. Thirty years ago a politician being openly gay would likely end their career for good. (Barney Frank being the notable exception.) Yes, there is… Read more »

john
john
12 years ago

Interesting batting-to-and-fro as we try to decide whether the positive or the negative prevailed. Great strides have undoubtedly been made. Great evils still occur. Individuals only have the one life. The whole debate is utterly stupid, both relative to other things, and in itself. The arguments of ‘the orthodox’ are absurd. And, at least in the West, they are so out of touch. These things we need to hold on to, even if it is not always wise to shout them out, and even as we try – and must try – to remain in full communion with them. As… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Walsingham:

So we should wait another 30 years for the church to catch up? Oh, and it didn’t take 30 years for those things to happen anyway…most of them happened two decades ago or more.

John:

No, Schori can’t impose anything. Only the General Convention can do that…and it is unlikely to do so.

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

Walsingham wrote: “Thirty years ago AIDS was still the “gay disease”.”

It wasn’t invented yet (but fighting over women was on…).

The first headlines from San Francisco came in late summer 1981.

Simon Dawson
12 years ago

Walsingham, wrote “Thirty years ago the idea that gays could openly serve in the military would have been shouted down and the supporters treated as pariahs. (snip) Yes, there is gradual progress. (snip) But if you insist on forcing things to go faster in our Anglican Communion, (snip) all you do is destroy the Church you are trying to save, and in the end achieve nothing else.” I can’t speak for all of your examples, but I do know about the military example, being part of the campaign to change the UK military gay ban. Your argument that change can… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
12 years ago

Simon Dawson, you underestimate the force of (a) prophetic speech (b) rational argument (c) sharing of experience. These should make unnecessary illegal actions, such as for example ordaining women in the RCC. These are not gestures of civil disobedience but are seen as tampering with essentials of church order.

JCF
JCF
12 years ago

“you underestimate the force of (a) prophetic speech (b) rational argument (c) sharing of experience. These should make unnecessary illegal actions”

But SpiritVat2, ab&c are OFTEN “illegal” (under the dominating laws or canons)! Are laws/canons, like the Sabbath, “made for man” or vice-versa?

The “gradual evolution vs. direct-action revolution” debate is an on-going one, no doubt about it…

…but “Go Slow” arguments ought ONLY come from WITHIN an oppressed community—not AT them! >:-/

Lord have mercy…

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Simon Dawson: The rest of my post was clearly about American politics and how change happened in America. Given that the discussion is about American politics, the American church, and the historic treatment of gays in America, your sole exceptional example of gays in the British military is frankly irrelevant. Besides, if anything your own example demonstrates a case where the legal system was used to protect rights and hardly involved the sort of out-and-out willful ignorance of due process that others are agitating for. In the case you cited, the legal system did just what it was supposed to… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: And, pray tell, what super-duper secret plan do you have to achieve all this in less than 30 years without destroying the Anglican Communion? The only plan on the table right now that has better than a snowball’s chance in Hades is the one from Lambeth. You seem to have a problem with your history. The first gay pride rallies were in 1970 (38 years ago) and even then the changes they pushed for didn’t really happen for at least a decade. “Two decades earlier” than thirty years is thus impossible, and many of those changes are still… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Walsingham:

I propose the same “super-duper” plan we have had all along for women’s ordination and consecration, as an example:

What happens in the USA has no bearing on what happens in Nigeria and vice versa. Two churches, two different attitudes and beliefs on all but core issues–such as the role of Christ as God and savior. If the Communion can survive lay presidency in Sydney, surely it can survive an open gay bishop in New Hampshire!

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: Under any catholic understanding of the Church, the churches in the Anglican Communion don’t enjoy that degree of autonomy. It is not an “I’m OK, you’re OK” kind of thing. And no, I don’t think the Communion can survive lay presidency in Sydney, which *does* affect the core of Anglican beliefs as stated in the Quadrilateral. If anything Sydney is a another perfect example of why we need to pay more attention to what is happening in other member churches and react accordingly, and strengthen the common institutions we have. In any catholic understanding of the Church, it… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Walsingham: My understanding of the creedal belief in “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church” is that it is 1) something to be prayed for, not something that can rationally be said to exist today, and 2) that said church is made up of all the believers in Christ as God and savior, no matter what individual little fillips of liturgy, doctrine and tradition may otherwise divide them. And if the churches in the Anglican Communion do not have the level of autonomy I describe, then how do you account for the differences in women’s ordination among them? If they can… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: ‘And if the churches in the Anglican Communion do not have the level of autonomy I describe, then how do you account for the differences in women’s ordination among them? If they can make up their own minds in regard to that, why not in regard to the ordination and consecration of active homosexuals? Is the former really of lesser import than the latter?’ The churches in the Anglican Communion are notionally autonomous in the sense that there is no legally binding mechanism to *make* them do anything. The shared communion is entirely voluntary. That does not mean… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Dialogue only works when both sides are listening. I have seen little evidence that the “no gays allowed” side of this issue has listened to the other side at all.

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

Walsingham wrote: “What matters is that many of our sister churches DO hold that position, and if we want to maintain unity, we have to at least take their understanding of it seriously…”

But if it is not serious? Do we take it seriously then – or do we speak the Truth in love?

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Göran Koch-Swahne: ‘But if it is not serious? Do we take it seriously then – or do we speak the Truth in love?’ One, how do you judge if it is serious? Clearly most of our sister churches (and members within our own churches) opposing us are quite sincere, and from that sincerity follows their seriousness. Two, “take seriously” does not mean “to agree with” or “to take on their view”. It simply means that we talk to them with the utmost respect and try to understand why they believe what they do. As an example, opponents of women’s ordination… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: The evidence is Lambeth. The most extreme bishops didn’t show up, but many conservatives did, and they talked. The “talking” that was done before was mainly of the preaching-to-the-choir sort that I alluded to above. There *was* no dialogue to speak of. It was only when people were forced to sit down and listen to one another that things changed, which is why Lambeth turned out as well as it did. Furthermore, you will never convince an opponent until you understand why he or she thinks that way, and you must *always* be ready to question your own… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

“The evidence is Lambeth. The most extreme bishops didn’t show up, but many conservatives did, and they talked.”

…and talked and talked and talked. Talk is cheap, as the saying goes.

In the end, the only action was to ask the North American churches to stop listening to the Spirit as they hear it, to make this “sacrifice” for the unity of the Communion. No similar “sacrifice” was asked of the other side. (Don’t point me to the “moratorium” on border crossings…it’s hardly the same thing and no one believes it will be abided by anyway.)

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: Well, considering that the actual participants in Lambeth have come away saying how productive they thought it all was, I’d call it presumptuous of you to ridicule their own assessment. It is also presumptuous to assume that the Spirit only speaks through us and not them. The moratoria would return us to the status quo of 2002 and give everyone a chance for a breather, and stop the asinine shouting at each other. Talking — and by that I mean the real dialog as seen at Lambeth, not the screaming at each other in blogs — is quite… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Walsingham: I expect Anglicans to do what they have always done in the past–realize that there is more than one way to the Kingdom (though all of them eventually go through Christ) and no one of us (or even any group of us) has the knowledge of the best path. Indeed, the best path for YOU may not be the best path for ME. That has always served us well…leading to many different autonomous churches, each adapted to the particular needs of its nation and culture, but sharing in a recognition of Christ as God and savior. Everything else was… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: ‘I expect Anglicans to do what they have always done in the past–realize that there is more than one way to the Kingdom…’ You’ve turned the history of Anglicanism on its head. The Anglican Communion is relatively young — it can only be said to have existed at the earliest since the 1860s — and was by necessity looser in order to get the national churches *that already existed* to join together. Naturally they were jealous of their autonomy and were unwilling to surrender more than they did. Again, the parallels to the Articles of Confederation in America… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Walsingham The price that was asked of us at Lambeth goes beyond not blessing same sex relationships and not consecrating gay bishops. You must be aware that openly gay partnered priests are also not acceptable, that many parishes don’t tolerate gay church wardens, children’s workers, PCC members, prayer group leaders…. although there are no rules against them. It’s a question of what anti gay parishes can get away with in the reality of the church climate, not of the letters of Lambeth resolutions. But let’s accept your premise. The price that was asked of us at Lambeth is not high:… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Walsingham:

So the solution is to give in to those who would force their way upon everyone else? Because these moratoria will not be temporary. The next time someone even suggests an openly gay person for bishop, the cry will go up, “What about the moratorium?”…even if the next time is 30 years from now.

How long is long enough to wait for the rest of the world to catch up? Should Lincoln have waited ANOTHER 87 years to free the slaves?

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Erika Baker: ‘You must be aware that openly gay partnered priests are also not acceptable…’ I doubt that that will have much effect, frankly. The same way I doubt that gay blessings will come to a screeching halt because no official rites are available. And I don’t think anyone is under any illusions about that, either. ‘… that many parishes don’t tolerate gay church wardens, children’s workers, PCC members, prayer group leaders…’ That would remain so with or without the moratoria. Red herring. ‘It’s a question of what anti gay parishes can get away with in the reality of the… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: ‘How long is long enough to wait for the rest of the world to catch up?’ Do you seriously expect TEC doing its own thing and getting kicked out of the Anglican Communion will do a jot to change that? Meanwhile, staying in the Communion and working within it promises to help all the others who are also within it. It’s a much more constructive strategy than just storming off in a huff and refusing to play with the other children anymore. ‘Should Lincoln have waited ANOTHER 87 years to free the slaves?’ Lincoln was, in fact, a… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Walsingham “Suppose TEC goes along with it and the border crossings continue, some Africans continue to openly persecute gays, and so on. Then at least TEC can rightly say it tried to play ball and go the extra mile, and call the bluff of those attacking it.” I’m surprised by this comment. I had understood you to value unity above everything else and therefore to support a moratorium. Now it looks like you’re playing the same game everyone else is playing. If TEC accepts the moratorium and if Africans and GAFCON continue as they are doing now, and if TEC… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Lincoln changed his mind. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. I suggest you read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals” to discover how Lincoln came to the realization that “gradualism” in the face of a grievous moral wrong was not the answer.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Walsingham The answer to the question depends on a number of individual answers: 1. Is the inclusion of lgbt people an important aim for me? 2. Is unity a more important goal than the full inclusion of lgbt people? Depending on how you answer these questions you then have to say: 1. The full inclusion of lgbt people is not an important aim for me, a moratorium is therefore needed to ensure unity. 2. Unity is important but not at the expense of the long term exclusion of lgbt people. That being the case there are three considerations: a. does… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Pat O’Neill: I suggest you read the text of the Emancipation Proclamation and get back to me on that. I don’t need to read Doris Kearns Goodwin — I can read what Lincoln himself had to say on it, and judge him by his actions. Money quote from the Proclamation: “All persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be IN REBELLION against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…” Thus he did not “free the slaves” by issuing a proclamation. He freed *some* of them —… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Erika Baker: ‘I’m surprised by this comment. I had understood you to value unity above everything else and therefore to support a moratorium.’ And I have said nothing to contradict that. If TEC does what is asked of it by the Communion at large (*not* by individual churches) and the Global South churches continue to break the agreement, then they are clearly the ones to blame for the continued strife and whatever agreed-upon mechanisms arise through the Covenant for punishing transgressors would be brought to bear against them, not TEC. This is precisely why I would like to see a… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Erika Baker: Regarding your second post — you phrase it thus: “The full inclusion of lgbt people is not an important aim for me, a moratorium is therefore needed to ensure unity.” You are establishing a false dichotomy by making it sound like something is either important, or it isn’t. That is wrong. The full inclusion of GLBT people is very important to me, as I have stated repeatedly. But for all that importance, it is still not important as unity, which is of the *utmost* importance. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through consensus and unity, not in fragmented… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Walsingham I suppose what separates us is that I do not believe that unity is of the utmost importance. It is desireable, but no more. Christianity has survived many splits, and I’m sure God does not mind with diversity, as long as each one of us is genuinely seeking Him. After all, genuine unity means allowing diversity within the church and respecting each other, something that is now impossible to achieve. Forced unity is completely meaningless and not what God requires of us. I would consider unity to be important enough to consent to a moratorium if I believed the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Walsingham

Apologies for the terrible spelling and grammar in my last post. I wrote it quickly last night before logging off and didn’t check it before posting. Apologies!!

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Erika Baker: No worries, I’m not a grammar Nazi or anything. Much. 😀 The ultimate question is, how do you discern when the Holy Spirit really is talking to us, and what is the purpose of the Church Catholic? Are Anglicans catholic, or not? Those questions are intimately bound up together with one another. They are inseparable. Naturally I agree with you that local churches should have a high degree of autonomy. I also agree that homosexuality ought to be an issue of local authority, not one that touches central issues of orthodoxy. *However*, the difficulty is that when we… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Walsingham The Holy Spirit does speak to all of us, but a. not everyone hears him right or at the same time, and b. he may well speak differently to people depending on the cultural and actual situation they find themselves in. Ad a. there has never been a time where the whole church suddenly agreed on a new direction from the Spirit. It’s always a case that some hear it first, try to persuade the others, move on in incremental steps. The ultimate test is whether, in the long term, the rest of the church follows or not. If… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
12 years ago

@Erika Baker: ‘The Holy Spirit does speak to all of us, but a. not everyone hears him right or at the same time, and b. he may well speak differently to people depending on the cultural and actual situation they find themselves in.’ There’s the rub: How can you be so sure you’re hearing the Spirit, and the Global South isn’t? ‘It’s always a case that some hear it first, try to persuade the others, move on in incremental steps.’ I’ve advocated doing exactly that, take *incremental* steps and wait and see — and not do anything to intentionally break… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Walsingham

OK, then tell me again, precisely, what this compromise consists of.

TEC (and others) don’t consecrate gay bishops and all priests who wish to continue to do so bless same sex relationships but not officially.
While the others do what please?

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