November 7, 2010

Where the Wild Things Aren't

I am more and more seeing the doings in Anglicanism as an episode in the continuing battle between those who want a tightly controlled world, and those who favor freedom. I was put in mind of this today by a comment on the previous post about those swimming or hydroplaning the Tiber. There is a definite attraction to the order and rule in the magisterial realm of the Italian Church, quite different from the sometimes messy open pasture of the "Episcopal Commons" -- as Paul Wattson denigrated it. Some people just want more structure in their lives, while others are content with a bit of disorder. The proposed Anglican Covenant, it seems to me, is an unhappy mix: order poorly defined.

But I was also put in mind of one of my favorite artistic creations. Consider Sarastro's Temple (from Magic Flute) particularly as described by Gary McGath:

The virtues which Sarastro's temple cites are courage, willingness to accept any assigned task, silence when commanded, and intense distrust of women. The Temple of Wisdom is a frightening sort of organization: its members revere their leader, require newcomers to undergo dangerous initiation rituals, subject people to humiliating psychological manipulation, kidnap people for their own good, and instill strong distrust of those outside (particularly women).
Sound familiar? Ironically, Mozart's light opera is redolent of Freemasonry — at odds with Rome — but after all it's hard to tell the difference when it comes to the appeal of Order and Rule. Some might envision a modern production in our current brouhaha: Cue ++KJS as Queen of the Night (in the eyes of her detractors) vs Benedetto 16 as Sarastro. As a baritone, I'll take Papageno; like him I rarely hold my tongue; and my lovely Wounded Bird will I'm sure be happy to do a turn as Papagena! I'll leave the rest of the casting up to your imagination.

In the meantime, I'll stay where the wild things, mostly of the Anglican sort, thrive — in an English Garden rather than one of the more symmetrical Continental sort. May Anglicanism continue to be just that sort of cultivated wildness, and not trim its boxwood hedges too fine.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Paul said...

I remember a course on Meyers Briggs Personality Type Indicator and spirituality. I never took it, but I did take the MBPTI test at one point, and it was an eye opener.

I think that different types of people need different types of churches. Authoritarian types probably aren't going to get what they need from the Episcopal Church, and should probably look elsewhere. And the typical Episcopalian would probably not function very well in an authoritarian communion.

Ecgbert said...

But I'm a libertarian and a Catholic. God and his church have the final say in my life but I'm not trying to control your world.

No, ISTM at this remove that the Anglican war is over which side's bishops get to go on a special trip to England every 10 years.

Is that really worth all the white upper-middle-class boomer angst?

But like I said, I'm not trying to control your world.

Peace out.

Brother David said...

There is some great insight at looking at scripture in a paper posted at Trinity Institute;

Two things stood out for me. The first, the idea that there are two approaches occurring now in the AC. One approach is concerned, as was Leviticus, with purity. The other is concerned, as was Deuteronomy, with justice. Both legitimate approaches in tension with one another. The issue is whether these two approaches are willing to view the other as legitimate and co-exist with one another.

I repeat over and over on blog after blog, that we are merely seeking justice, we are not looking to throw anyone out, not to break table fellowship. We are willing to co-exist. But we are also not willing to wait any longer, we are moving forward with justice.

The other had to do with Jesus, related forever now in my mind to that tired phrase, WWJD - What would Jesus do? Teresa Okure, an African biblical scholar, states that not everything in the canon is equal, so as stated by Ignatius of Antioch, Jesus is the measure of the legitimacy of something. Can you hear Jesus saying it? Can you see Jesus implementing it?

In regard to the lives and ministry of all of the baptized, yes, I believe that Jesus would be implementing it!

R said...

So long as I can conduct the Overture (or at least play in the orchestra)!

rick allen said...


Ihr hoher Zweck zeigt deutlich an,
Nichts edlers sei als Weib und Mann,
Mann und Weib und Weib und Mann,
Reichen an die Gottheit an.

Paul said...

Yes, Sarastro's crowd gives me the creeps and you have articulated why. I had not given it enough thought. The production I saw at the Santa Fe Opera had them all dressed like hyper-calvinists, dark, drab, depressed Northern Europeans. Yuck.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the thoughts. Paul, that's just what I'm getting at -- perhaps it is just a part of personality what sort of order one is attracted to.

YF, if you think Lambeth is definitive of Anglicanism, I think you do not understand it. The first Lambeth was in 1867, and Anglicanism was formed about 250 to 300 years earlier. Also don't know what you mean about boomer angst.

Dahveed, Leviticus and Deuteronomy do provide an insight. Part of the problem is that those on the right who are so convinced of the truth of their position imagine that the left will be just as imperious as they are. That can sometimes be true; but YF's claims aside, my experience of conservative idealogues is that they do want to control others as much as they want to control themselves.

R, you are welcome to the baton.

Rick, it is no surprise to find the pagan notion of hieros gamos tucked inside the Freemasonry of Zauberflöte. What's odd is to find how much this unscriptural heresy has invaded Roman Catholic and Evangelical thinking in the 20th century, passed from Barth to John Paul II as an insidious virus.

Paul (B.B.) a Calvinist Wissenschaftskolleg! Sounds just about right, at their own estimation...

June Butler said...

...and my lovely Wounded Bird will I'm sure be happy to do a turn as Papagena!

Of course! I can't wait for my transformation. Whoever designs the costumes, please keep in mind that "dark" and "drab" don't do it for me.

WSJM said...

"It is no surprise to find the pagan notion of hieros gamos tucked inside the Freemasonry of Zauberflöte. What's odd is to find how much this unscriptural heresy has invaded Roman Catholic and Evangelical thinking in the 20th century, passed from Barth to John Paul II as an insidious virus."

Tobias, now you're making me actually think hard!

However, I'm inclined to think that "Ihr hoher Zweck..." is finally related more to Eph. 5:31-32 than to hieros gamos. Papageno ends up with his sweetie Papagena, and that's where Mozart's heart is, rather than with Tamino and Pamina. Secretly, or perhaps not-so-secretly, Mozart thinks Sarastro and all that Freemasonry stuff is a crashing bore. (Not that he doesn't enjoy having fun with it!)

Ecgbert said...

An Anglican has always been whoever the Church of England says is one, which now usually takes the form of being recognised by the Lambeth Conference.

I mean the angst about the Anglican denomination breaking up.

Brother David said...

Sorry Young Phoney, but you appear to know very little of Anglicanism.

Lambeth Conference is a big retreat for bishops held once a decade. It has no authority. What little authority there is in the Anglican Communion is held by the Anglican Consultative Council, a triennial synod of representatives of the 38 provincial churches which make up the AC.

It is usually thought best to not speak to issues of which one is ignorant.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Dahveed, my vision problems (a cornea hiccup) make it difficult to read sometimes, and I missed your flippancy about YF's sobriquet. While I relish pointed language I'm not sure one gains any points in a debate with this particular manner. Suffice it to say, as I mentioned above, that YF is mistaken concerning the role of Lambeth in the life of the Communion. That many leaders in the AC also seem to fall into that error puts him in good company, even if they are all mistaken.

Ecgbert said...

Who gets into the Anglican Consultative Council? It's tied into bishops who are invited to Lambeth.

Of course you're right that there's no worldwide Anglican definer and enforcer of doctrine (nor does Orthodoxy have one but the result's very different!), which is why you don't want the Covenant, right? (It's against your tradition.) Doctrinal and disciplinary changes are up for national churches' (general synod/convention) votes. (Orthodox can't vote to change doctrine.) If, after the changes, the bishops keep getting invited to Lambeth, they're still Anglican. Doctrine is nothing to do with it.

Again why all the nastiness over a denomination breaking up? It wouldn't affect you.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

YF, now you are merely contradicting, and as Dahveed pointed out, you really don't know what you are talking about, either on Anglicanism or Orthodoxy. (Read the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils -- where the Orthodox gathered to vote on doctrines, and indeed made many changes over the years, in part to address heresies, in part to clarify. There was a protest from some of the Orthodox who were not in attendance at one of the Councils, and this lead to a major split in Orthodoxy that survives to this day, because the Armenians did not accept the doctrinal changes introduced at Chalcedon.) The only reason they don't vote today is there is no one authorized to call a Council -- and the various Orthodox churches are even now seeking a solution to that dilemma.) It is amazing how parochial the so-called "Catholics" (eastern or western) can be -- and how ignorant of their own traditions (to say nothing of others).

If you have anything actually to add to the conversation, you are welcome to do so, but as I note in the proviso, mere contradiction (assertion of a contrary without evidence) is tiresome and unhelpful.

Ecgbert said...

Our posts crossed. I was going to add that of course Orthodoxy in theory has the ecumenical council but hasn't had one for a long time (they would say because the Holy Spirit is saying they don't need to) and there are the murky matters of who has the authority to call one and of reception by the church.

Ecgbert said...

P.S. Ecumenical councils received by the faithful (Rome: those and the Pope ex cathedra) define doctrine but can't change it. It's like a constitution without repeal.

ISTM the rapprochement between the Orthodox and Oriental communions is good and the split really was just a big misunderstanding and not doctrinal as thought. If so, then union is entirely possible and even likely as the ecclesiologies and polities are the same. (Not so the East and Rome.)

June Butler said...

Returning to the important subject, the virtual production of the Magic Flute, if all will demonstrate their courage, accept their assigned tasks in silence, and carry on with their intense distrust of women, we will stage the best ever virtual performance of the opera.

Brother David said...

YF asks; Who gets into the Anglican Consultative Council?

Representatives elected by the 38 member province's governing synods. The number of reps each province is allowed is based on the size of its membership. Those reps may or may not include a bishop, so there is no connection with the powerless Lambeth retreat for bishops there.

And as we saw at the last ACC held in May '09, only real members of the Anglican Communion get in. When a schismatic border crosser was sent to represent a member church, his credentials as a qualified representative were questioned and he was not allowed entry. And not any of that was connected in any way to the Lambeth bishop's retreat of the year before either.

Lo siento mucho, Padre T. Perdoname mis pecados.

My antics on your blog are not usually meant as real disrespect, but to get a laugh, so please forgive me. I was unaware of any vision issues that you had. I wrote Young Foney the first time, because Spanish has no PH. But I said to myself that may escape Father T, so I spelled it correctly believing that if you disapproved you would edit or not publish.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

GM, a silent opera might be interesting... I was always amused to see that there were silent film versions of a few operas made in the early years of this century, meant for organ accompaniment.

Dahveed, thanks for spelling out the disconnect between Lambeth (a conference -- but not at all like the, say, US Conference of Catholic Bishops) and the ACC, a legislative assembly constituted by the Communion itself, in service of its mission.

As to vision, I've been dealing for a few years with what is called Map-Dot-Fingerprint Dystrophy: the odd name having to do with the way the cornea looks on examination under different forms of illumination. It causes odd distortions (like the "ghosts" on analog TV) and is highly variable from day to day or even hour to hour. It also makes it hard to get a good refraction for eyeglasses, because the distortion can't be addressed with a lense -- so "is this better... or this" becomes meaningliess! It is an annoyance, but not the worst that could happen...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

oops... obviously those silent films are from the LAST century. Here I am, living in the past!

Ecgbert said...

But if the provinces' bishops aren't in the Anglican denomination - meaning their bishops aren't invited to Lambeth - then they don't get to elect and send people to the council.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

YF, you are simply becoming annoying at this point.

1) Lambeth has nothing to do with it, for reasons outlined above.

2) Reps to the ACC from TEC are elected by our Executive Council, not the bishops. See Canon I.4.2.g.

You simply don't know what you are talking about, and rather than continue to display that ignorance, I'd advise you think twice before so publicly revealing it.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

For the record, I have declined to post two comments from YF in which he continues his misguided obsession with Lambeth.

I very rarely decline posts, but in this case it has completely sidetracked the conversation, which is about structures of governance, with application far beyond Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism -- or Eastern Orthodoxy.

Closed said...

I was thinking of a piece by the late Michael Ramsey on Maurice's disagreement with Pusey over Baptism. The latter understood Church as an ark redeemed out of our everyday social worlds, the former more close to the concept of a commons redeemed to serve our everyday social worlds.

A different understanding of Christ's presence underlies each notion. Fascinatingly, Maurice objects to Pusey's understanding precisely because it wants to locate Christ's presence singularly in the sacraments in such a way that implies Christ's absence otherwise. Maurice, drawing on Luther's concept of ubiquity as well as the John 1 and the Pauline canticles, rejects such a notion as being as problematic as the memorialism of Zwingli. The sacraments are not about location, but explicit availability of Christ always present in the life of our social worlds and all of creation even when hidden. The most obvious influence on our praying of this is the newer Collect for the Ascension in the 1979 BCP. Stringfellow too bequeaths to us this more robust understanding of the Word at work in all things.

I do think that our understanding of Christ's Person and work as well as that of the Holy Spirit has a great deal to do with the vision we then arrive at for Church. What images guide our ecclesiological ponderings and the resulting polity and governance of this show something of how we understand Christ.

Commons and Conversation are very fine images of our comprehensiveness, which is an Anglican notion of catholicity that cannot be easily reconciled with Roman or Reformed notions. Though we share similarities in structure to the Orthodox, our want to keep the conversations going and an ethos of non-expulsion, put us at odds with such organizing as well.

We have been too quick to borrow from others' conceptions rather than observe our own.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, Christopher; excellent thoughts. It strikes me that God created the Flood and Noah built the Ark! As the old Baltimore Catechism affirmed, God is everywhere -- and as I try to suggest in a subsequent post, the church is "in" the world -- the world God loved so much that he chose embodiment within it! And as Temple observed, the church exists for the benefit of those outside it. These ideas are part of our Anglican heritage, and precisely as you say we want to keep the conversation going with an "ethos of non-expulsion." Good word that.