April 26, 2009

Legerdemain

My view, laid out somewhat tongue in cheek in the previous post, is that a diocese's signing the covenant is essentially irrelevant to whether they are part of the Anglican Communion or not. Didn't Dr. Radner say Southern Baptists could sign if they wanted to? The whole enterprise in the long Bishops' Statement appears to have little to do with the supposed goal -- remaining part of the Anglican Communion.

It is hardly necessary to argue (in the face of the obvious) that TEC is not hierarchical in order for a diocese to sign a statement such as the proposed Covenant. That is, dioceses not being autonomous -- in that they must follow the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention, and are governed by those laws -- what, in the Covenant, is contrary to the Constitution and Canons of our church? I don't see what all the fuss and bother is, on either side.

I do see a good deal of lawyerly piling up of irrelevance to "make a case" for diocesan autonomy on counselor McCall's part, but that's another matter. The case he made, bad as it is, might have a pernicious effect sooner down the road than the Covenant coming to fruition. All the talk about the Covenant may be nothing more than a smoke-screen anyway -- read the earlier ACI statement of March 12 (St Gregory must have taken a turn in his tomb) where the idea of diocesan autonomy is more clearly linked to the litigation taking place (or due to take place) in a number of dioceses — a topic bruited upon in the email thread gone public.

This is the real issue, not the Covenant. Pay attention, folks. Remember how sleight of hand works.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

8 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, this post is excellent, and the point you make is quite obvious (but alas! - only obvious to me now that you've said it).

From the beginning, the fact that senior bishops, who claim loyalty to the Episcopal Church, placed their names on such a document causes me to shake my head in bewilderment.

WSJM said...

Tobias -- what Grandmere Mimi said.

I hadn't seen the ACI statement you referenced before. +MacPherson's signature disappoints me. +Howe's doesn't surprise me. Radner+, of course, is very bright but pretty obviously still a secret agent of the IRD.

I'm wondering if maybe we should encourage them to file their amicus brief. Any competent judge would clearly say, "What??!!?"

Personally, I think the bishops who signed the ACI statement are guilty of violation of their ordination vows and of the Constitution and Canons. But it would not be productive to file presentments. At least not yet.

If a diocese, or a parish, or a parish sewing guild, wants to sign the Anglican Covenant (in whatever transmogrification), sure, why not? They can sign the Manhattan Telephone Directory, too, if they like. It doesn't alter the fact that they are still subject to the Canons and Constitution of The Episcopal Church.

David |Dah • veed| said...

the idea of diocesan autonomy is more clearly linked to the litigation taking place (or due to take place) in a number of dioceses

I am pretty sure that was what I said in the other post, in a comment that was ignored.

It was funny to be reminded again in the 12 MAR document that ACI objected to the PB's Chancellor's statement that dioceses are subordinate units to the triumvirate of Presiding Bishop, General Convention and Executive Council and as proof stated that TEC is called the Episcopal Church and not the Convention Church, when in fact that is exactly what Orthodites at STIF have called it for some while as a put down; the General Convention Church.

Their jokes often come back to bite them in the posterior aspect.

Fred Schwartz said...

Tobias,
Could it also be that if parishes and diocese are allowed to join and the ACNA joins (because it can and it makes it seem more legitimate) and slowly but surely TEC is circled and outflanked and left hanging essentially outside the Anglican Communion.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks WSJ. I'm not sure this rises to a violation yet -- it is at the "expressing an opinion" stage. If having a faulty grasp of TEC polity were cause for presentment I think we'd have a much more compact House of Bishops -- and Deputies, for that matter. ;-)

Dahveed -- you are correct sir, and were on the ball quicker than some of us. Commendations to your sharp observation. Some of us have short memories, and even March 12 2009 seems like ancient history. And I did also think of that "General Convention Church" language so popular at the Maintain Erect Posture franchise.

Fred, my concern, which I've raised before, is how can ACNA or Nigeria sign on to a Covenant that says, "(3.2.7) to have in mind that our bonds of affection and the love of Christ compel us always to uphold the highest degree of communion possible." They have already severed communion with TEC -- and it is demonstrable that such severance is not "necessary" (that is, it is possible to remain in communion even while disagreeing, as other Provinces have done.) Of course, that obviates the raison d'être for ACNA to start with (apart from the original intent as a kind of language ministry to Nigerians in the US, the need for which is questionable to start with, as most Nigerians on these shores speak English in addition to Igbo, Yoruba, or whatever other language of their homeland.

I think they are hoist on their own petard with citations of the Preamble -- "constituent member" doesn't mean "TEC ceases to be Anglican if it leaves or is expelled from the Anglican Communion." Rather it means that the Anglican Communion will cease to be what it was if one of its primary constituents is forcibly removed. That's a thought that bears repeating, and I think I'll post it as a thought for today...

Barry Fernelius said...

I have been a sleight-of-hand artist for over thirty years. Comparing the techniques employed by the ACI to legerdemain is an insult to all practitioners of the art of conjuring!

Why are the ACI tactics different? In my work as a magician, I do employ deception, but my lies are harmless theatrical lies, just like the ones used by actors. My audiences know that I intend to deceive them, and I do so--in an entertaining manner.

In other words, sleight-of-hand artists are HONEST DECEIVERS. I'm not sure the same can be said about the ACI and their ilk.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Barry. You brought a smile to me today! I've been reading the article in this month's Wired about Teller (of Penn and...) about the psychological bases of sleight-of-hand. Thanks again.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

It seems clear to me that all the talk about the autonomy of dioceses in relation to signing on to the Covenant is really about property. It seems clear to me that diocesan conventions can endorse the Covenant - although I hope no action will be taken without at least a year's study and discussion - as part of the discernment process leading up to the 2012 General Convention - and that requires no assertion of autonomy beyond what we have already recognized as diocesan conventions pass resolutions of all sorts.