February 5, 2009

Unsteady As She Goes

It seems appropriate for the 501st post on this blog to comment on the recently ended meeting of the Primates. Jim Naughton has some very astute observations to make about the meeting itself, its communiqué, and more importantly (as he recognizes) the Windsor Continuation Group report.

I will confine myself to observing that the latter seems set on continuing to press a course towards what it regards as a safe harbor, which to my eye resembles a world-Church rather than a communion of churches-in-fellowship. There is also a continued drift towards more authority for the Primates themselves, which I can't help but see as redundant and troublesome. I make no bones about my traditional Anglican preference for a group of churches in communion, as opposed to a single world-Church. If I wanted the latter, I could have joined one; and I see no need to create another one, since the Roman Catholic Church does a very effective job of being one.

Still, there is enough leeway in the proposed direction of this chart to allow for adjustment, should the proposed harbor not prove to have the depth to accommodate the Anglican vessel. Or should it become apparent that it isn't a harbor, but a shoal upon which our efforts might well run aground.

In the meantime, there is certainly no joy in Mudville, as the angriest dissidents will see little promise in the present document at all. Those who have jumped ship in hopes of swift rescue by another commodious steamer are, I think, going to be treading water for a while.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Marshall Scott said...

Indeed, there is no joy in Mudville. I can't imagine who, other than the WCG and the Archbishop of Canterbury, might be pleased at this report.

It becomes harder to think about "a group of churches in communion" when WCG has to defined communion as to limit in- or even interdependence. Some of us have spoken happily of "a fellowship of churches in communion;" but this report essentially categorizes a fellowship as a failure.

John B. Chilton said...

Listen to the ABC press conference and you will hear more along those lines.


Jim Strader said...

Isn't it interesting that the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) seeks less autonomy and more authority (modernity) in an ever increasing autonomous yet "organizationally flat" (post modern) world. The Emergent Church movement, with all of its virtues and vices points to a couple things - less government and hierarchy. I have difficulty fathoming how the WCG members expect churches such as The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, or even the Church of England itself to institute more levels of ecclesiastical power at the Anglican Communion level when the members of these "autonomous" churches are increasingly more diverse and less concerned with adopting more rules and regulations they had little if any say in creating.

The world and the church are not progressing towards (or backwards) towards "communion with autonomy and accountability." Such organizational systems began passing away in the 1970s in much of the world. "Autonomy with communion" is much more of a realistic paradigm. Interesting enough, I would submit that autonomy with communion is one of historical Anglicanism's greatest gifts - thus the basis for my comments.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Marshall, John and Jim. From my perspective the "mess" we are in derives from movements towards the very centralization on which some seem to set their hearts, beginning with the now well-established factoid that Lambeth "speaks for the Communion." All of our problems stem from Lambeth 1.10 and the weight given to it. Other Lambeth resolutions (such as the ones about including the laity in all discussions of communion concern, or respecting the decisions of autonomous provinces) are swept aside because of "teh gay" -- and a singularly ill-informed and lopsidedly adhered to resolution.

It is forcing greater centralization that is exacerbating the problems.

However, I perceive in some of the non-butter-melting in-the-mouth comments from the Global South that we may have reached a kind of pragmatic sanction. Statements such as this communiqué can be issued, but "everyone knows" that TEC (and others) will continue to have the odd SSM-blessing bishop, and the boundary crossings will continue or remain, but when the Primates actually gather, they will preserve the illusion of harmony. There will be de facto autonomy whatever flavor of soup de jure is on the menu.

And that may not be a bad thing in the long run, though a rather inefficient solution to a problem that is, after all, avoidable simply by holding to the original notion of autonomy-in-communion, with no synod superior to that of each province, and a tolerant willingness to remain united in Christ in spite of differences on matters of rites and ceremonies (and the last time I looked, marriage and ordination were in that category). Which is what I thought made Anglicanism special, desirable, and commendable.

Christopher said...

Fr. Haller,

Again, thank you for reminding us of traditional Anglican ecclessiology. As I note in my latest post, the problem, however, is deeper than Lambeth 1.10 and determination of Lambeth as a sort of magisterium. It stems from our given up our traditional Christocentricity for ecclessiocentricity. The Group's report shows classic signs of this problem.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Christopher, you are, of course correct. The regard given Lambeth 1.10 is merely a symptom of an underlying dis-ease, that same old desire for Babel -- a centralized sign of unity of our own making -- rather than an acceptance of the true unity found in Christ alone.

Thanks for your wisdom, and keen insight.

John B. Chilton said...

Good stuff, Christopher. Christopher's post is here,