January 27, 2012

Doll on the Covenant

Jonathan Clatworthy has penned a rebuttal to Peter Doll's essay in support of the Anglican Covenant. Doll's paper relies a great deal on a supposed American ethos that is clearly recognizable as an eccleiastical cousin of the “Ugly American.” Doll draws heavily on the early days of the foundation of the Episcopal Church and its revised Prayerbook, as if the rationalism of the Enlightenment was an American invention that passed the English by! He also engages in the sort of circular reasoning in favor of the Covenant to which we all have become accustomed: we should do this because we must do this because it is best we do this. He entirely begs the question that a "closer union" is in fact a good thing, and seems not to know that the root of the word federation is foedus, foederis — the Latin for Covenant — while calling for more submission to the group-mind of the Communion.

For me the greatest irony in Doll’s essay is the amount of projection it reveals: the urge for empire and control and subordination that he says America wants for the Communion is actually what the Covenant proposers want for themselves: in short they do not want a fellowship of autonomous churches, but a Federation in the legal sense, bound by a Covenant pledging submission by each to all.

Doll even quotes the misused maxim, "What touches all" — missing the point (as has been missed since Windsor) that it was designed to protect the rights of the minority, not insist upon their submission to the majority. As with so much else, Doll has it precisely backwards.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

UPDATE: See also, More on Doll's Paper


June Butler said...

Just the first paragraph of Peter Doll's essay made me want to tear my hair out. I didn't recognize my own Episcopal Church in Doll's descriptions. Why wouldn't Rowan endorse his paper? The two seem to take the same dim view of our church.

But I think I understand
American religious culture from the inside...

Sorry, Peter, I don't think you do. You missed the mark. In fact, you didn't even hit the target board, much less come close to hitting the bullseye.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Mimi. Gullible Englishmen (and Welshmen) will think Peter must know whereof he speaks since he is an American. But it's only because his deeply flawed version of reality matches their own preconceptions.

And that continued perversion of "What touches all" really has me pulling hairs out, too!

Erika Baker said...

I have never been inside an American Episcopalian church but I have many Episcopalian Internet friends and I was really upset about the caricature Doll described.
I have come to know TEC as the one church that has followed the rules of not being individualistic and domineering to an admirable extent, with a consultation and discernment process that included lgbt people and didn't just rule over their heads, and that is far wider and fairer than anything the CoE has come up with.

To turn this virtually into its opposite and accuse Americans of caring only about themselves simply because you will not be dictated to by those who have a much more authoritarian approach sound almost wilful.

I'm glad for Jonathan Clatworthy's excellent response.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, Erika. Doll's piece is so deeply wrong on so many levels; and it is scandalous (literally) that the Archbishop of Canterbury is commending it.