March 3, 2012

The Sign of the Diner Parking Lot

Three more Church of England dioceses voted today on the proposed Anglican Covenant, and only one of the three accepted it, while the other two said No. This brings the total out of 44 to 8 in favor and 13 against. More votes next week; and you can follow the tally at Modern Church. In theory this could all be over by St Patrick's Day.

I have begun to wonder to what extent the merits or demerits of the Covenant itself are really the basis for voting up or down at this point. The voting has long been cast, in the wider Communion, in other extraneous ways — as a show of loyalty either to the Archbishop or the Communion itself, for example. Many who support the Covenant, as my friend Mimi points out, rarely cite the actual text, but point to the "idea" of the Covenant. (I've noted this somewhat gnostic trend myself.)

For something so important (i.e., "the only way forward") to do as poorly as it has so far -- even if it were to rally and finally be adopted by a majority of synods (and provinces) in the end, surely indicates that there is no fundamental consensus of support. It should be clear to all by now that the proposed Covenant is not "the future shape of Anglicanism" and is a flawed document put forward for final action too soon, and with too little attention paid to the feedback in the review process.

Its supporters have thus already lost a key "selling point" just on the basis of reception so far; and that may be having a kind of reverse band-wagon effect. Who goes to the diner with only a few cars parked outside? Let's keep driving, dear; there's bound to be something better down the road.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
h/t Thinking Anglicans


Erika Baker said...

I would have agreed with you 100% had I not noticed that the Bishop of Bradford voted in favour.
He is someone I don't always agree with but who is very well informed about what's going on and a truly intelligent man with huge integrity. And, at least as far as I can tell, not someone who is blindly loyal to anyone or anything.

I confess to being puzzled.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Erika. Far be it from me to make windows into men's souls. I do think many people who support the Covenant actually do believe in it -- and as I've noted before, if everyone did vote for it it could then be to some extent filed and forgotten. (Some of my South African friends urged voting for it for just that reason.)

My real point here is that there is now a dynamic that will make recovery and implementation difficult from the standpoint of claiming any kind of consensus — which is what the Covenant is supposed to be about. The whole situation is beginning to remind me of the state of the Republican Party, with a similar dynamic.

Erika Baker said...

Tobias, yes, and precisely because of that I am surprised when an intelligent man still votes for it - whatever one might have thought of the benefits of the Covenant earlier in the process, it is by now abundantly clear that it is not a unifying

Daniel Weir said...

Following on with the marriage metaphor, as inappropriate as it is, there seem to be a fair number of people who are having doubts about this covenant. One of my earliest reactions was that if we were to move in this new direction, we needed to do so, not hastily or unadvisedly, but only after serious consideration. Whatever good there is in the document, and there is some good, it promised, I thought then and still do, to a culture of complaint within the Commnion, a culture which I see as antithetical to all that is best in Anglican tradition.

I have recently thought about reconciliation within the Communion. To be reconciled with one another doesn't have to mean to be entirely happy about all that the other person does. It may mean simply that we are willing to remain in relationship with someone with whom we have profound disagreements, to remain because we understand that in the relationship there are possibilities for transformation and growth. I am reconciled to being in relationship with Anglicans with whom I have serious disagreements because I believe that it will only be in relationships that my conversion of life is possible.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, Erika. Daniel, that has long been my chief reservation about the proposed Covenant -- even the current attenuated version. It is geared towards complaint rather than towards toleration. It seems very un-Anglican in that regard, and more like one of the several cults who practice shunning the minority as a means towards group unity. That inevitably leads to splintering, and the Covenant locks that divisiveness into its process. Better, it seems to me, to let that divisiveness proceed, as it will, ad hoc and informally. It will be easier to reconcile such informal breaches than the formal ones the Covenant would put in place.