The self-appointed arbiters of the Global Anglican Future, meeting in (but not of) Jerusalem, have been learning a good deal this week. First off, it appears that the Primates of Nigeria and Uganda were not aware of church support for laws criminalizing same-sexuality, or if aware, that this was a good idea in keeping with native custom and taboos; and to be surprised to hear that gay and lesbian persons are physically abused within their borders. The Archbishop of Sydney almost literally leaped to their defense and spoke for them when they seemed unable to articulate a response recognizably in keeping with either the gospel or the mandates of Lambeth concerning civil rights for sexual minorities. All in all, a fascinating exercise in reverse sock-puppetry and the power of cultural taboo over gospel.
The leaders also appear to be grasping that the revolution and reformation of Anglicanism is going to take longer than they thought. Rather than a turning point, GAFCON will be the continuation of more of the same, as the leaders continue to work from within at the glorious reform of the Anglican Communion. Perhaps they are realizing at long last that there is not the impetus for a split they may have thought there was. As the whole independence effort by CANA in Virginia was to prove there was a “division” in the Anglican Communion (and The Episcopal Church) — after all, the judge said so, so it must be true! — the language of “working from within” will be of little solace to those who were, quite literally, banking on a split.
In the German film Goodbye, Lenin, an ardent communist east-Berliner goes into a coma just before the reunification; when she emerges some months later, her doctors warn that she mustn’t have any shocks. So her son works overtime to maintain the pretense that reunification hasn't happened, scrounging for old Soviet era groceries — saving the containers and replacing the contents when the old products are no longer available.
Something of a parable, I think.
Tobias Haller BSG