Blunt voices on the Anglican left

Drop DeadNow this is really interesting and, for a voice on the doctrinal left, very blunt.

Blunt is on the rise, at the moment, in the Anglican world.

So check out the Guardian headline on the latest column from Stephen Bates:

Bishops to primate: drop dead

When Rowan Williams meets his flock these days, he seems happy just to get out of the room in one piece.

The primate involved, of course, is the Archbishop of Canterbury — a man who was considered a solid leader on the Anglican left for years. However, at the moment he is trying to hold his Communion together in a fight over a host of issues in doctrine, sacraments and moral theology. It’s hard to read this Bates column as anything other than a declaration of war on Williams for betraying his doctrinal class.

Thus, we read the following about the U.S. Episcopal Church’s “drop dead” response to Williams’ attempts to maintain peace with Third World conservatives:

… (The) whole statement is a kick in the balls for Dr Williams, who has steadfastly declined to visit the US church while happily receiving regular delegations of conservatives at Lambeth Palace. The American bishops invited him to go and visit them, to hear their views, adding, deliciously, that they would pay for his ticket.

But Williams is in the thrall to the conservatives. He has even appointed the American conservative theologian Ephraim Radner to the body advising on the pastoral scheme, just when Radner has joined a Washington-based organisation, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, dedicated to overthrowing the US church and largely funded by the Ahmansons. These bizarre, multimillionaire Californian Christian reconstructionists believe in publicly stoning gays (and other reprobates) to death.

Will the archbishop go and speak to the Americans, or has he heard enough? He knows that without the US and its the Anglican communion, will struggle to survive financially.

By the way, there appears to be a crucial missing word and a strange comma in that last sentence in the online version of this column: “He knows that without the US and its (??) the Anglican communion (,) will struggle to survive financially.” I would assume that the missing word is “money,” “endowments” or something to that effect. Has anyone else seen a full text? Can a GetReligion reader on the other side of the Atlantic help us?

Meanwhile, over at the Telegraph, Damian Thompson is singing the same angry aria. Here is the key statement, for those who are trying to anticipate the Archbishop of Canterbury’s next move in this global soap opera:

For almost his entire period in office, the treacle-voiced Welsh Primate with the Fu Manchu eyebrows has been bending over backwards to appease people whose views he privately abhors. I thought Rowan Williams was going to be the finest Archbishop of Canterbury for decades. Instead, he has been a disappointment on every level — even in his own area of expertise, theology.

This is a perfectly valid question. How long will Williams, an articulate man of the left, carry on his attempts at global compromise? Thompson and Bates are voices on the religious left in England, a state-church environment in which church politics is a life-and-death affair. You know that, sooner or later, the action in the Anglican civil war has to move over to Great Britain.

Can the old allies of Williams call him back into the fold? Will he betray the left? Stay tuned.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Sarah Asquith

    If Rowan Catuar had any sense, he would abdicate and let a competent bishop be appointed. The Anglican Communion has been without a leader since Carey (who was not great skakes) left.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com Mattk

    I was surprised that no imams, prosecutors, or ICE officers were quoted in the story.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com Mattk

    Woops! That was supposed to be on the polygamy in NYC story.

  • http://thinkinganglicans.org.uk Simon Sarmiento

    I can confirm that the word “money” is missing from the published version of Stephen Bates’ article on Comment is free. This item, you need to understand, exists only online, and was never intended for the Guardian newspaper. That is true of very many items on the Cif site.

  • http://thinkinganglicans.org.uk Simon Sarmiento

    It seems odd that you have referenced only Damian Thompson’s blog item (which, again, does not appear in the paper edition of the Telegraph) and have omitted reference to the blistering leader column that did appear in that, normally conservative, newspaper. That can be found at Communion no more. I suggest this is much more significant.

  • Larry Rasczak

    Sounds to me like the Left feels they are loosing.

    As long as they were winning it was all about gobbeltygook, but very very polite gobbletygook. “Furthering the calls towards prayefurl understanding of the patient and prayerful reconsideration of the reconsidered resolution that was passed at the 1998 special meeting to discuss the reconsideration of the 1994 resolution implementing the prayerfully reconsiderd resolves of the call towards unified unity that was issued after the discussion of the prayerfuly reconsidered resolves, etc. etc. etc…” Heck read bloody TAX CODE and it was clearer and more direct than what the ECUSA and the Anglican Communion were putting out!

    Now we have “But Williams is in the thrall to the conservatives” (yes we used the secret power rings they give you when you join the Great Right Wing Conspiracy…) and “the Institute on Religion and Democracy, dedicated to overthrowing the US church”… (yes they meet in a townhouse at 18 West 11th St. in Greenwich Village to plot nefarious schemes with Lex Luthor, D.B. Cooper, and the Penguin!).

    I think there is some frustration on the left of the Communion… things aren’t working out as planned.

  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    There have been liberal grumblings about Williams from fairly early on in his tenure as Cantuar. Nobody really expected that he would choose to act as agent of the communion rather than as advocate of his personal views, and it took some time for this to become apparent. What is new here is how this is now appearing in the MSM, because the grumblings have been in the blogs and in the advocacy groups for quite a while.

  • Martha

    Wow, I had no idea the IRD were such dangerous fanatics. Secretly bankrolled by sinister multimillionaires plotting to overthrow the church and bring in public stoning! Can we sleep safe in our beds, knowing that at this very moment in California, nefarious plots are afoot?

    Actually, yes, I can, even over the squealing of disgruntled lefties who feel betrayed that their pet Primate has – shock, horror! – chosen to abide by the church of which he is a member and not to be the rubber-stamp for every new fad that agitates them.

    You may take it that I don’t believe there are megalomaniac multimillionaires planning to stone us all to death.

  • BluesDaddy

    When is someone in the media going to do a story on the declining financial health of TEC? Every story regarding the coming rift in the Anglican Communion mentions TEC money, but doesn’t deal with the continuing loss of the truly big payers as congregation after congregation leaves. It seems to me that any financial hardship incurred by kicking TEC out of the communion is offset by a gain in theological and doctrinal integrity as well as eventually by financial assistance from American Anglicans who will support a TEC-less world Anglican communion.

  • Larry Rasczak

    Two points…

    First, The talk about MONEY in the TEC worries me, and it is, I think revealing. My sister is a Poor Clare Abbess (I am the reprobate Protestant Black Sheep of the family) and her Abbey survives on the idea that “The Lord Will Provide”.

    I mean I understand the whole Martha/Mary dilema here, and the fact that building loans have to be paid off and sallaries have to be paid on time, etc. I am not advocating financial irresponsibility here. Still one would expect that someone in a religious organization MIGHT take the idea of “Trust in the Lord and He will provide” a bit more seriously and scream “You can’t make it without OUR $$$” a little less.

    Of course, if one were to say ” I put my faith in God. I am sure that with respects to money, we will survive.” to a reporter… what would you wind up looking like in the final published story? (shudder!)

    Second… I have been thinking about the “Patient and prayerful reflection that is called for in the reconsidering of the the call for a unified response to the reflected resolution of the call for unity that was prayerfully resolved in the spirit of universal and unified love by the united resolution of prayerful resolve…” gobbletygook that one sees when dealing with the Anglican/Episcopal church.

    So, I suggest a GetReligion Writing Contest! Something along the lines of the “Bad Hemmingway” (not you M.Z.!) and “Bad Faulkener” contests.

    We could perhaps do one of these for each denomination, but I suggest we start with my own denomination of the Anglicans. In the spirit of the Bangles song “Walk like an Egyptian” we should do a “Write like an Anglican” contest.

    To wit, one must take a simple, NON CONTROVERSIAL sentence, (both right and left can play) such as

    “During their meeting, the Bishops saw a cat walk past the window.”

    Or

    “The Archbishop had a cheese sandwich and tea for lunch.”

    (When we get to the Catholics we can say “The Pope prefers donuts for breakfast.” to add the proper air of Authority.)

    Then take this sentence and write it in the style of an Anglican document.

    Whoever uses the most words, and most correctly nails the style, while conveying the least amount of actual information, wins!

  • Dale

    As an outsider, it seems that both sides of the Anglican split have taken contradictory positions. TEC says that it can not tolerate a primatial vicar for the dissident conservative congregations and dioceses in the U.S. because it would violate local church autonomy; yet, at the same time, TEC is interfering with the Diocese of South Carolina’s election of Mark Lawrence as bishop by the highly unusual step of withholding consent. If the House of Bishops’ stated objection to the appointment of a primatial vicar is valid and it holds local autonomy as the primary principle at stake, how do they explain what happened to bishop-elect Lawrence? Or, obviously, TEC’s use of property rights to coerce compliance by dissident congregations? It seems that the common principle is not a respect for local church autonomy, but affirmation of same-sex blessings and the ordination of V. Gene Robinson. TEC complains about the primates’ interference in its polity, but actively interferes in the polity of dioceses and congregations that don’t agree with TEC on the controversial subjects.
    The Anglican primates are involved in the same kind of contradiction. They have called for the appointment of a primatial vicar because the dissident congregations no longer have confidence in TEC leadership. In doing so, they have called for setting aside TEC’s canons of church governance in order to preserve unity within the American church. Yet, when TEC dissents from the Anglican Communion’s declarations regarding homosexuality, there is no provision for an alternate authority for TEC, even though they, too, seem to have lost confidence in the primates’ leadership. The primates say that ordinary church governance must be sacrificed within TEC for the sake of unity, but the same overriding concern for unity does not apply within the Anglican Communion with regard to doctrines of sexuality.

    None of the MSM coverage I’ve read has explored these contradictions in an even-handed way.

  • Irenaeus

    The above articles illustrate a phenomenon often overlooked: that liberals can get downright p*ssy and mean when they don’t get their way.

  • Sarah Webber

    Somehow, it doesn’t look like this is going to end well for anyone.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    I think it has already been done, in a piece on how factions in the Church of England would treat a Biblical statement that “The cat sat on the mat”.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Those here who seem surprised at liberals beginning to show a little nastiness apparently haven’t noticed the news stories of what happens to a speaker on many college campuses if he (or she) isn’t sufficiently “liberal.”

  • Pen Brynisa

    Dale,

    re:

    As an outsider, it seems that both sides of the Anglican split have taken contradictory positions. TEC says that it can not tolerate a primatial vicar for the dissident conservative congregations and dioceses in the U.S. because it would violate local church autonomy; yet, at the same time, TEC is interfering with the Diocese of South Carolina’s election of Mark Lawrence as bishop by the highly unusual step of withholding consent.

    Neither of the examples you cite are accurate. The TEC House of Bishops did not reject the primatial vicar–they rejected the scheme proposed by Dr. Williams and the Primates wherein a primatial vicar would be appointed by and report to a council chaired by Dr. Williams. That is what the bishops believe would violate the autonomy of TEC; having foreign bishops exercising oversight outside of their own jurisdiction without any accountability to TEC.

    The idea for a primatial vicar, one selected by and accountable to the very primate whose authority would be vicariously exercised, was first proposed last year by none other than the Presiding Bishop herself, and that concept is still on the table.

    Likewise, TEC is not interfering in the election of the bishop of South Carolina by witholding consent. Rather, the election was nullified due to the failure of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina to submit the proper paperwork. The current bishop of South Carolina, Bishop Salmon, says that the Presiding Bishop “bent over backwards” to get the consent for Father Lawrence, but the fault lies with the Standing Committee. Lawrence will probably be elected again, at any rate, and you can bet that the SC of SC will handle it correctly this time.

    Where do you get your information, Dale? Oh. Right. The press. And the press doesn’t get religion.

  • Dale

    The idea for a primatial vicar, one selected by and accountable to the very primate whose authority would be vicariously exercised, was first proposed last year by none other than the Presiding Bishop herself, and that concept is still on the table.

    I was inexact when I used the term “primatial vicar” to refer to the structure recommended by the Anglican primates. Schori’s primatial vicar solution you refer to seems to be all form and no substance; ultimately, the dissident congregations and dioceses would still be subject to a church hierarchy that they view as hostile and heterodox, which is why they have sought alternate oversight in the first place.

    In contrast, the primatial vicar solution suggested by the primates in Tanzania provided a temporary buffer between the dissidents and TEC hierarchy.

    Likewise, TEC is not interfering in the election of the bishop of South Carolina by witholding consent. Rather, the election was nullified due to the failure of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina to submit the proper paperwork

    Nonsense. The only reason that the paperwork was an issue was because many in TEC actively campaigned against consent for the bishop-elect, who was elected overwhelmingly by the Diocese of South Carolina. Ironically, it is those same people who now fashion themselves as the champions of TEC autonomy, which they were loath to grant to the Diocese of South Carolina.

    If it was just a matter of botched paperwork, as you suggest, why does Bishop Salmon say the following on the diocesan website?

    We offer our deepest condolences to Fr. Mark and his wife Allison who have navigated this time of process with class, dignity and courage. I know that it is toughest on Allison who has had to watch her beloved spouse suffer so many indignities. We hope that they will agree to continue to be a part of the Diocese of South Carolina’s pursuit of securing our next Diocesan. Fr. Lawrence has modeled exemplary patience and calmness by enduring a level of scrutiny and persecution that is without precedent in The Episcopal Church (TEC).

    Pen Brynisa says:

    Lawrence will probably be elected again, at any rate, and you can bet that the SC of SC will handle it correctly this time.

    And I bet that those who were so concerned about TEC autonomy will again campaign against consent, effectively seeking to deny the Diocese of South Carolina’s choice of bishop. That leads me to conclude that their statements about autonomy are tactical, not principled.


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