November 23, 2010

Settling for Mediocre

One of the stranger plaints of those who argue for the adoption of the Anglican Covenant is the expressed desire to be "part of something greater." And here I thought we were part of something greater. It's called the Body of Christ.

If what they mean is that "fellowship of national or provincial churches in communion with the See of Canterbury" -- we are already part of that too, and as the Covenant Fan Club keep assuring us the Anglican Covenant isn't about membership in the Anglican Communion (in spite of its title!) but about the modus operandi of the Communion and any others who wish to sign on (and who do not thereby become part of the Communion).

It remains to be explained precisely how the development of two tiers, tracks, circles, cliques or confabulations, and a legislated double track of distinction between Covenanter and Communion Member, mark improvements in our common life, rather than an engineered settlement for something far less vibrant than the communion we have known, and very far indeed from the free fellowship of the children of God in Christ.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Fr. J said...

For something that you see as so useless, you sure are spending an inordinate amount of time talking about it these days.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

All that is required for mistakes to happen is for people to remain silent. Perhaps you are unaware that the Church of England will be voting on this matter this week, and a very intense debate is going on. You are free to regard that as "inordinate" but you have no idea how I spend my time, which today included planning for the Bishop's Visitation this Sunday, an hour of marriage counseling, dealing with the plumber about major repairs to the boiler, a hospital visit and chairing an InterParish Council meeting. And yes, a little blogging.

More importantly, I do not think the Covenant is useless. I think it is dangerous. I think it unlikely to accomplish anything good, and very possibly promoting a good deal of bad.

I think that is worth talking about. If you don't, why make a comment at all, and such a snarky one at that?

Tim said...

With respect, I do not see a development of two tiers. I see a grouping of at least four levels of ecclesiastic heirarchy which replaces the current two-tiered system.

1. The faithful Anglicans who also sign the Covenant.
2. The faithful Anglicans who refuse to sign the Covenant.
3. Those who are not part of the Communion but, for whatever reason, decide to sign the Covenant.
4. Last and least (and where I fit in), people who are neither of the Communion or the Covenant.

There is, of course, a different way of categorizing people, though it is FAR less popular.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:23-29)

Fr. J said...

I'm sorry if you found my comment snarky. I was simply making an observation, as regards the amount of blogging that you've been doing on this subject. I didn't mean to offend, or to insinuate that you do nothing else all day long except this.

As I'm sure you realize, I read your blog regularly, despite the fact that we often disagree. I usually find your commentary interesting and fair minded, even when we come to radically different conclusions. But on the subject of the Covenant, and particularly lately, I can't make heads or tails of what you're saying. One minute the covenant is relatively harmless and perhaps should be accepted by all, if only so that we can all have a good yawn and then move on. The next minute it's the spawn of Satan that will drag us into some kind of centralized cabal. And often the two coincide in the same post.

Honestly, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you. I usually don't comment on any of this, if for no other reason than I know that it's not worth fighting over it, particularly over the internet. But when every single post is centered around this one topic, I'm truly uncertain how to continue to engage with you in a meaningful way.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Tim. That is a good breakdown of the options. There may be more! The Covenant is so confused it is hard to tell.

Fr. J., the ambiguity in my statements is in reaction to the dangerous ambiguity in the Covenant itself. Like absolute monarchy, it could be very good (when you have a wise, benign monarch) or very bad when you have a tyrant. Is "absolute monarchy" a good way to run a country? It depends on the implementation and the staff! It is much the same with the Covenant.

In the hands of tyrants it will be a very negative force in the church, and even in the hands of wise and benign leaders it will not be of much help. That is the position I have maintained, and I don't see why you have trouble grasping it -- though I can accept you might disagree with it.

If you wish to engage in a meaningful way, it would help to articulate your position, whether you agree with mine or not. Do you see the Covenant as a force for good; and if so, how? Do you see any dangers in it? What do you like about it, and what not?

As to the frequent posts, I've already addressed why this has become a "hot topic" -- not only for me but for its supporters (Fulcrum has been posting almost twice a day now) -- as the General Synod votes. Many of my posts have been picked up on the other side of the pond, and I hope are having some influence in the debate. So that is why I continue to address the issue.

Does that help?

MarkBrunson said...

I've found Tobias' position to be reflective of the slippery, oily arguments for the covenant: one minute, it's supporters are saying "See, support it! Sign on! It won't do anything!" then they turn around and tell us, "Well, you have to sign on because that's the only way we can have the power to do anything!"

It's deception, a whoring after support, and that's always indicative of one author, and that's not God.

JCF said...

Part of Fr J's confusion (if I may be so bold) is that you, Tobias, gave the Covenant a chance (to persuade you).

Whereas I was of the opinion that

1) it was the fruit of a poisonous tree (the "problem" of an HONESTLY gay bishop, as ID'd, a priori, by the "Windsor Process") and

2) it supplanted (as admitted by Rowan Cantuar himself) and overthrew the perfectly WONDERFUL pre-existing Anglican Covenant: the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Ergo Tobias, for not being as hard-@ssed as I have been, you're being seen as (I guess) fickle!

WSJM said...

Well, I see that the Anglican Covenant has gone through the General Synod like a greased pig. Interestingly, we have also had the release of the statement from the GAFCON Primates, to the effect that they are not buying in to the Covenant.

Okay. So be it. As one of the regular commenters over at Thinking Anglicans notes, "The Communion has been history since Dromantine. Where Primates (or anyone else) refuses Table Fellowship, there is no more Communion." Well, not exactly, but there is a diminished Communion. It may be that the Communion will consist only of those Churches whose Primates are willing to meet with, and receive Communion with, +Katharine and +Fred. Okay. That's too bad, but so be it.

Let's just sign the damn thing. It is beginning to remind me of closings at the bank when you buy a house -- there's a whole bunch of papers full of verbiage, and although there may be potential pitfalls lurking in them, you just sign them all because you want your house. We want to be in communion with all who are willing to be in communion with us, and if this is what it takes, then just sign.

If the GAFCON Churches, or some subset of them, do not sign the Covenant, then they cannot use the Covenant against TEC or the ACC. But they've already broken communion with us, so what difference does it make? It may be that England or Scotland or Wales or Ireland or Southern Africa or Australia or New Zealand or ... may from time to time have issues with something we do (or we with them), but their (or our) response is likely to be, "We need to talk." That's good. That's as it should be.

So maybe we should just sign the damn thing and then put it back in the vault where it belongs.

Fr. J said...

I've taken your advice: