I’ve been mulling over the most recent Primates Communique and the Windsor Continuation Group report, and am thoughtful about both documents. We’ll see if I have the time to come to some conclusions and, if worthwhile, write them up for some discussion.
But in the meantime, I want to point to a comment I made over at T19 in January regarding some comments in response to a Communion Partners communication . . . as sort of a reminder, a little pre-Primates-meeting flashback, and a jumping-off place for further discussion in light of the documents released last week.
RE: “The money quote is the following:
...not ‘recruit’ from each others’ daily purpose, honoring the jurisdictional integrities of respective bishops.”
RobRoy—in all the muddle of the original statement, that’s the one I picked as well. The rest is sort of window dressing to get to the real issue which is “we know that certain laypeople and clergy and parishes are very very unhappy in our dioceses—and we want you to commit to not allowing the unhappy people to form any ACNA churches in those dioceses, even though everyone who was going to leave has already left anyway.”
Then you couple that hope with “and you’re not cooperating or ‘honoring our commitments’ if you do allow it.”
The reverse has also been asserted by the “other side” which is: “everybody knows that we all need a new province constructed by us—that is the Grand Solution for which everyone is secretly longing—and if the Communion Partners doesn’t support the recognition of us in the Anglican Communion—that is, the thing we have brilliantly constructed—as the ‘new province’ then they’re not being charitable or ‘supporting us’”.
I hear it from both sides all the time.
Truth is—on the one side, people and clergy and parishes leave TEC in large part because they hate and detest being in an organization that is led by such corrupt heretical leaders at the national level. So you’ve got orthodox bishops shocked and surprised when, despite a great diocese, people want to leave—those bishops and many clergy have never grasped the marketing challenge, which is that the brand has been so badly badly tainted for knowledgeable traditional laypeople and clergy that it’s incredibly difficult to get them to “look over here at the bright shiny red ball” when they can hardly keep their eyes off of the frankly Amazing Tawdry Spectacle of Gene Robinson and his turgid, florid prose at the non-open microphone.
I’ve compared it in the past to the Tylenol/cyanide issue of so many years ago. Had the company not done what it did—which was to take all the Tylenol off the shelves, take a huge hit financially, and institute cutting edge—at the time—safety efforts to prevent such a thing ever happening again—then the brand would have been absolutely demolished in the public eye, rather than merely taking a hard blow. Had Tylenol said “hey—we think the problem is just a localized one in these few states, carry on everyone” and not dealt with the issue then each state of the union, indeed each pharmacy, would have had to institute the same draconian measures as the corporation ought to have done, verifying that their particular Tylenol in their particular store was “safe and not poisoned.” And each pharmacy would have had to explain loudly to its customers just how different its Tylenol was from the national brand corporation’s Tylenol.
A diocese and parish have got to work especially and vigorously hard to construct a huge differentiation from that national church such that those in it will look out of the walls and say “wow—what a sick church we are in—thank God we are in this diocese led by this bishop and in my parish.”
The only diocese I can see out there that has done such a thing—and in a masterful way—is the Diocese of South Carolina. And it’s just frightfully hard to do all around.
So—the fact is that most dioceses, even Communion/Former Network dioceses—just aren’t going to be able to construct the edifice necessary to make traditional people who are not congregationalists say “who cares about The Episcopal Church’s buffoonish and heretical leaders in the HOB, the HOD, the Executive Council, 815, and at other areas on the national level!”
And, that being the case, the only alternative is to try to convince other realities that are forming with alternate brands to commit to not allowing any unhappy laypeople, clergy, or parishes to form ACNA parishes.
I don’t think that commitment is going to happen, personally. So the fallback position will be “you’re not cooperating, honoring our commitments, or offering charitable acceptance.”
To again note the opposing side’s challenge—it wants to be a recognized Anglican Communion province, although certainly it will go on forming and organizing without that. But its leaders recognize full well that becoming recognized by the Anglican Communion as a whole as a province is a huge step towards establishing itself as a real viable long-term option.
On the other hand, it has finally dimly dawned on its leaders that many conservatives in TEC are not at all taken with the ACNA—its theology, its practices, its leaders, and numerous other issues—and that no matter what, the ACNA is not an option for those many conservatives, nor do those conservatives hope for acceptance of the ACNA as a new province since that would gum up the situation in the US even more than it already is, from an Anglican Communion perspective, leaving three different groupings.
Again, the cry goes up: “you’re not offering charitable acceptance and acknowledgement of our differing path if you don’t wish us to gain AC recognition!”
Both sides are defining “charitable acceptance” and “support of our differing path” as “you must help us accomplish what we want to accomplish in all respects and you must not do anything at all in your own path that might hinder ours.”
Both sides have for so long seemed to deny the oft-stated, nay even shouted, reality—on the one side that people are leaving because they are repelled by the national TEC leaders and the brand that they have created, and on the other that many conservatives will reject the CCP/ACNA wholeheartedly and completely as a non-option and do not wish under any circumstances to move into the “solution” that those who left have created—that it is frankly impossible for me to imagine at this point that either side will suddenly “see the light” and recognize reality.
Just two days ago I literally read a Fort Worth priest’s comments saying “we are going to create the thing that all of you secretly really want but don’t have the guts to lead or create—stand back everyone and watch the courageous ones work”—and just a month ago I heard about yet another priest—this time in TEC—claiming that the departure of a parish “had nothing to do with theology or TEC but was solely about the personal issues.”
On both occasions, I smile.