It appears my reading of the situation, outlined a few weeks back in House of Cards, was correct. According to a note from Deacon Rosenthal of the Anglican Communion Office, the Archbishop of Canterbury
has not in any way endorsed the actions of the Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables, in his welcoming of dioceses, such as San Joaquin in the Episcopal Church, to become part of his province in South America.
Now, this announcement would have been helpful last Friday, in time perhaps to hose down the restive Fresnonians with a cold draught of temperance and restraint. Why was this word of caution not issued sooner?
Might I offer another insight concerning Archbishop Rowan Williams in light of this? I don't think he wants to be a leader. (Quiet, please, in the back row; I'm serious.) I mean that he sees his role as a monitor, a guardian of unity but not its enforcer, one who wants people really to do what they think best and then to offer his assessment afterwards. Perhaps this is a form of leadership; though it reminds me of the old game of Hot and Cold we played as children, and seems a needlessly time-wasting way to lead.
What is paradoxical in all this is that Rowan, apparently (and explicitly) not wanting to impose his own views, by playing his cards so close to the chest they become subcutaneous, has engineered a situation in which people hang upon his every arched eyebrow. I mean that quite literally; at the Chicago Consultation one of the English participants mentioned how often people will say things like, "I said such-and-such to Rowan last week and he winked and nodded." This is communication by innuendo, in which Rowan has become like one of those elfin fairy-tale characters (well, he is Welsh, after all) given to winks, nods, and cryptic gnomicisms.
The irony is this: I don't honestly think Rowan wants the power; that much is true. But his efforts to repulse the "greatness thrust upon him" have produced a strange kind of power, not unlike that held by certain imperial persons of history, followed about by a suite of stenographers taking down passing comments, and passing those comments to the wider world, in which they take on lives of their own, including one instance that led to the assassination of one of Rowan's predecessors.
My advice to Rowan, if he wants it, is to set aside the Delphic mode for the Socratic, at the very least. If he wants to remain on the sideline as an umpire rather than as the quarterback, let him adopt the voice of one who issues challenging questions rather than proffering quizzical hints. Apart from that, all I can see on the horizon is the old way of augury, in which wise men sacrificed animals to various gods, then examined their entrails for portents and signs. In this case, it will be the retrospective analysis of Rowan's career, after he has retired from the scene, which may at last show the true trajectory of his intents.
Tobias Haller BSG