September 10, 2006

Conversation and Appeal

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." — Luke 12:13

On the eve of the meeting in New York between various sides in the present internal dispute in which our church is mired, the dissidents have issued an Appeal to Canterbury.

It appears to me that the Seven Bishops who issued this Appeal have not been listening very carefully to the Archbishop, who has said time and again that he will do nothing — and feels he cannot do anything — outside the existing legal structures of the church; hence this call for a meeting among those who can actually try to make some make-do effort under the solicitous Sir Humphrey-like watchful eye of a representative from England.

Speaking of which, this all does seem to resemble a lost episode of Yes, Minister in its own perverse way; particularly the tortures suffered by the English language in the efforts to twist ++KJS's language into the vilest heresy (worthy of schism or at least replacement with a Commissary), and to nuance the already highly nuanced prose of ++Rowan into a stark declaration of support for novel independence.

I still pray for a good outcome; and do not think the Dissatisfied Seven have done themselves any service with this Appeal to an authority who has already said, "Who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?"

—Tobias Haller BSG

8 comments:

Simon said...

Spot On comment about Sir Humphrey and Yes Minister!

obadiahslope said...

Yes Minister indeed.
Here's some quotes from "The Bishop's Gambit" the episode about the CofE. Warning: they are not politically correct....for some reason most of the barbs are aimed at Liberals.

THE BISHOP'S GAMBIT

"Getting the PM to choose the right bishop is like a conjuror getting a member of the audience to choose a card. With the Church of England the choice is usually between a knave and a queen."

"The bench of bishops should have a proper balance between those who believe in God and those who don't."

"Bishops tend to live a long time, perhaps because the Almighty is not all that keen for them to join him."

"In Arab countries women get stoned when they commit adultery. In Britain, they commit adultery when they get stoned."

"We cannot leave the appointment of Bishops to the Holy Ghost, because no one is confident that the Holy Ghost would understand what makes a good Church of England bishop."

"An atheist clergyman could not continue to draw his stipend, so when they stop believing in God they call themselves 'modernists'."

"The Church of England is primarily a social organization not a religious one."

"Nowadays bishops only wear gaiters at significant religious events like the royal garden party."

"The plans for a new church in South London had places for dispensing orange juice, family planning, and organizing demos, but nowhere to celebrate Holy Communion."

"Theology is a device for helping agnostics to stay within the Church of England."

"The Queen is inseparable from the Church of England. God is an optional extra."

http://www.jonathanlynn.com/tv/yes_minister_series/yes_minister_episode_quotes.htm

Anonymous said...

September 11th

It is time for these self proclaimed "righteous" and extreme thinking puritanical bishops to start acting like responsible leaders instead of meanspirited and spoiled teenagers. They insist on defying the mature, democratic and "informed" majority consensus of their fellow Episcopalians and plot like thieves.

They continue to refuse to "listen" to the sound of anything other than their own demanding voices regardless of what "Windsor" virtues they brag about having.

Perhaps these rebellious "boys" will now go and play their noisy version of "destruction derby" elsewhere and/or find another "Windsor" ignoring Primate to babysit them.

Leonardo Ricardo
Province of Central America

Tobias said...

In my imagination, Rowan's response to the request for APO is something like

"I can't and won't do that; besides, it's anti-Windsor! You will need to work this out through the legitimate processes of your own province, to see if there is a way by which you can in good conscience remain within the structures of the Episcopal Church while receiving pastoral care from an acceptable someone with the permission of the Ecclesiastical Authority of your church. I believe you have a rule about bishops not performing episcopal functions in dioceses not their own without such permission. Yes, I think that's correct. And while you are at it, you will need to provide for the congregations within your own dioceses that don't feel as you do and are perfectly happy with your new Primate-elect. Can you dears all work this out in a mutually agreeable way? I said a few weeks back that I didn't look forward to an Anglican church of a different flavor on each street-corner, but maybe that's just the American answer to things. We've gotten awfully used to the Establishment, I'm afraid, and it's hard to engage with the radical freedom you Americans bring to everything, including religion! Frankly, I don't quite grasp the intricacies of your American system of church government, which seems more complicated than Ante-Nicene Christology."

That, I think, sums up the situation, at least in my own imaginary peek into Rowan's brain, based on some of the things he has actually said. We shall probably know for sure later in the week.

And thanks Obadiahslope for the quotes from one of my favorite episodes of Yes, Prime Minister. Of course the gentle fun-poking at liberal Anglican bishops has a venerable ancestry going back to Chaucer! This example reminds me a bit of the bishop in C S Lewis' The Great Divorce.

brightereyed said...

Fr. Haller, hope you don't mind my poking in. I fear you might be right about the Archbishop. And I don't mind the jabs against dissidents (too much!). Do you suppose, though, that if the Archbishop, or other instruments of unity are unable to prevent a member of the Anglican communion from wandering headlong into heresy (as Rt. Rev. Jefferts-Schori's comments cited in the Appeal seemed to indicate), we ought really continue to call ourselves a Christian communion, taken in toto, as opposed to some other sort of league? I suppose this is an extremely loaded question. I'm just pretty worried about the future of the via media as a live option among orthodox Christian fellowships.

Haven't seen the (TV?) program you refer to - sounds pretty entertaining! The bishop in The Great Divorce, though, strikes me as a fairly terrifying allegory, worth taking seriously.

Tobias said...

Dear Brightereyed,

Comments are always welcome here, and I very rarely filter out anything unless it is wildly off-topic or simply offensive and unproductive.

I've read the statements collected from the PB-elect, and while some of them are clearly at the liberal end of the spectrum I am at a loss to see which one (or ones) you think are worthy of the very strong word "heresy." If by chance you are referring to her comments about Jesus, I think you would find similar sentiments in just about every theologian from Augustine on, and overall the theology represented in the citations in the Appeal is not very far from the theology of Vatican II (as in Lumen gentium, for example -- especially the notion that God is bigger than our conceptions.) Perhaps, though, I am misunderstanding your concerns as to what constitutes "wandering" from the Christian faith.

The BBC TV productions are indeed finely crafted; I commend them for their sharp satire and brilliant performances. And yes, there is a certain terror in that episcopal character, and the others, in Lewis' allegorical work. I've often thought it would make a fine stage play, and even once started to adapt it. It holds up an effective mirror, I think, to all of our weaknesses.

brightereyed said...

Fr. Haller,
Thank you for your response. Upon reflection, I think you're probably right - I'd have a hard time extracting "heresy" from any of the KJS sound bites adduced in the Appeal. I suppose I was reading into them. And that's certainly shaky ground on which to throw around accusations. A stage adaptation of The Great Divorce sounds fabulous - Lewis' visual imagery would be hard to capture, but the dialogue is very rich and witty.

Tim said...

` I'd have a hard time extracting "heresy" from any of the KJS sound bites adduced in the Appeal. I suppose I was reading into them.'

I fear others have also read into them. `From a woman - must be heresy! I know, if we bury our heads in the sand and don't seek out an explanation of what she means, we'll be able to sustain the point!'

You only have to look at virtueonline to see a crowd of sheep with a `shoot first, shoot second, shoot some more, then when everyone's dead try to ask some questions' mentality, seeking to fit others' comments into small compartments in their tiny world-view.