March 1, 2012

Covenant Adrift

The Church of England Diocese of Sodor & Man today joined 10 other C of E dioceses who have already said “No” to the Anglican Covenant. This means that a full quarter of the dioceses (11 out of 44) have voted against the proposal, and a bare 16 percent (7 out of 44) in favor. There are still 26 dioceses to go — three more voting this Saturday — and a considerable change in proportion will be required if the Covenant is not to perish in its homeland. I can hardly imagine a better burial place. Whatever the rest of the voting shows, no one will be able to argue that this is a consensus document. There isn't even consensus about the thing — how can it be a means to an end it cannot find even for itself?

Meanwhile the folks at Fulcrum continue to produce articles I can only describe as deeply disingenuous. The most recent continues the gob-smackingly wrong analogy with marriage. How many marriage liturgies do you know that contain explicit language on the procedure to dissolve the marriage? It is exactly the "prenuptial" quality of the Covenant that makes it essentially unworthy of consideration. Far from being idealistic, the Anglican Covenant is steeped in a world of real-ecclesiastik and the coercive suasion of a majority over the actions of those who refuse to accept as law what is barely even a consensus. And from a purely pastoral perspective, it is hardly wise to urge an engaged couple having difficulties to marry in haste as a solution to their problems. In any case, the Communion is much less like a married couple than like a fractious family of siblings — who belong to each other whether we get along or not.

One thing the article says is true: the Anglican Communion is going through difficult times. The proposed Covenant, however, does not demonstrably present a solution to the difficulties, beyond a mechanism to do officially what up to now has been ad hoc: instituting impairments to communion by committee instead of by the actions of those offended themselves. People can be disagreeable enough without programming disagreement.

Whatever else this may be, it is not marriage — or at least not a marriage I would like to be party to.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Lapinbizarre said...

Great result, though note that although Sodor & Man is a diocese of the C of E, the Manx are largely self-governing, with a parliamentary legislature dating at least to the 13th century, and many - probably most - would deeply resent being called "English".

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Indeed cher Lapin, English in church only!

Deacon Charlie Perrin said...

If the Covenant is a marriage, it would be of the "shotgun" variety. And as to "pre-nups" one of my instructors at the Mercer School in Garden City (more years ago than I care to admit) said that he would not preside at the marriage any couple who had a "pre-nup" becuase he saw that as a defect in intent.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Precisely right, Deacon C. The Covenant is defective in intent (in addition to its other problems!)