October 21, 2009

Teachers to Ones Liking

Perhaps the strangest response to the recent Roman Catholic offer of transition and incorporation for disaffected Anglicans is this from the group Reform. They alert us at the head of their site that they very rarely issue press releases, so this is a rarity. Perhaps a second draft might have been advised, to avoid the apparent disconnect between the two final paragraphs (emphasis mine):

“If priests really are out of sympathy with the C of E’s doctrine (as opposed to the battles we are having over women’s ministry and sexuality), then perhaps it is better they make a clean break and go to Rome. However, when they do, they will have to accommodate themselves to Rome’s top-down approach to church life, whereas the C of E has always stressed the importance of decision making at the level of the local church.
“It is illusory to pretend that this development is an outcome of ecumenical dialogue. It illustrates the difficulties the C of E faces and the need for stronger leadership, rather than the ‘softly softly’ approach so far taken to those holding liberal views who are splitting the church.

So, let me get this straight, or at least decently and in order: Top-down is that unpleasant Romish thing, and local discernment the English, but the problem with the C of E is that very lack of a top-down imposition of control from the leadership. Which leads me to suspect that if Rome actually enforced all that the Reform folk agreed with, they too would fly to her bosom.

Which is just another example of "I like strong leaders and tough enforcement when I agree with it" — the tautology of tyranny and the unassailable rule of private conscience writ large.

No thanks. I'll stick with subsidiarity, even when it's upside-down.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

11 comments:

R said...

Amen to this. This is the worst kind of authoritarianism: I like authority so long as it does what I want it to do (which is just a variation on "I like authority so long as I'm in charge.")

I'm noticing a tendency to tongue-in-cheekiness in some Anglican responses to Romes "offer." Given our history, our shared ecclesiastical DNA, I can't help but wonder if this is subconscious in some instances -- present blog company excluded, of course!

Phil said...

"[T]he tautology of tyranny and the unassailable rule of private conscience writ large" - this is an ironic criticism coming from an Episcopalian, as it is precisely modern ECUSA's ethos.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

R, in my case it is absolutely conscious. To some extent I think tongue-in-cheekiness is a hallmark (though not the sole or peculiar property) of Anglicanism.

Phil, although I acknowledge that there are some "my way or the highway" Episcopalians, the "ethos" of TEC as a whole (and the C of E before it) is more characteristically subsidiary.

TEC has never insisted that other Provinces need follow our lead if they don't want to. If you're referring to people within TEC who disagree with the actions of GC being "put upon," that's another thing altogether, of course; but there is nothing "tyrannical" about it in that no one is compelled to remain a part of TEC, even if they are under vows to abide by its doctrine, discipline and worship. Those who depart, however, must also abdicate any pretense to a continued interest in the assets held in trust for TEC and its work. Of course I'm only guessing at what you might mean, but I certainly don't see TEC as an example either of tyranny or "private conscience."

KJ said...

I think I hurt my thinking muscle.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

OT

Marriage was made Gender Neutral in Sweden by General Synod today slightly past 10.30 AM. 176 Ayes, 62 Noes, 11 Abstentions. Though you might like to know ;=)

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

KJ, it used to be said that the Red Queen (not as some confuse, the Queen of Hearts) in Through the Looking Glass may have been a satirical poke at the Vatican I Roman Catholics, particularly on account of the pedantic display of authority and this statement in response to Alice's appeal that it is impossible to believe impossible things,

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Göran, now that's teaching to my liking!

Mary Sue said...

I have on my feed reader a blog of one house of RC nuns, who very kindly posted an invitation for all us Anglicans to come join thanks to the "Holy Father's gesture".

I declined politely, stating that as they are happy with where God has called them to work in the RC church, I am quite happy where God has called me to work in The Episcopal Church.

Locust-Eater said...

"Which is just another example of "I like strong leaders and tough enforcement when I agree with it" — the tautology of tyranny and the unassailable rule of private conscience writ large."

You made me smile.
Thanks. :)

Grandmère Mimi said...

To some extent I think tongue-in-cheekiness is a hallmark (though not the sole or peculiar property) of Anglicanism.

Now I know why I felt at home when I attended the first service at my church. All these years I've wondered....

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I am reminded of a comment by a Roman Catholic priest about the concept of subsidiarity - that it was used in the past to justify the Vatican's silence about developments in Nazi Germany. I'll stick with subsidiarity, but I will be cautious about its use to justify the silence of those at the top when those lower down are complicit in evil.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Fr. Daniel, for the reminder. That is, if I might say, a peculiar employment of the concept of subsidiarity. "Local option" has its limits; and I would also argue that the expression of opinions is always permitted: I have no objection, for example, to the Episcopal Church of the Sudan's leadership saying they don't like what TEC is doing in regard to sexuality. The problem with the Covenant-Disciplinarians is that they want to use disagreement as a tool for division.

I am for a lively discussion with clear disagreement, with much mutual listening, bound in a covenant based on the irrevocable unity founded in baptism.