September 22, 2015

Spectrum of Norms and Customs - And Laws

Early morning thoughts led me to thinking about the range of how norms and customs -- and even laws -- might be expressed in adjectives. This is what came to mind:


Obviously many synonyms could be lined up next to, or in-between, several of these, but the nice spectral number of seven seems just right. It also seems to me that most norms and laws fall somewhere on the ends of this spectrum, but many customs lie closer to the middle. And all of these move about a bit as time passes, custom stales and norms and even laws fall into desuetude.

Anyway, such were my early morning thoughts.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

September 20, 2015

What is an Anglican?

It strikes me that there are two meanings of Anglican, as it is commonly used. It can be understood as a tradition with certain characteristics derived from a historical reality (I assayed an essay on what I think the central characteristics are a decade ago in The Anglican Triad), or more formally as the fellowship of churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, members of the Anglican Consultative Council -- there is a list of membership one can look up. By analogy, one could say that some of the "independent" catholic churches are "catholic" but not officially so from the perspective of Rome, which does recognize a number of non-Latin churches as directly relating to it, but not these "independent" bodies. In the looser sense of heritage, one could say that the Methodists are part of the Anglican tradition, and but for some accidents of history, might still be so formally, and yet may!

The problem with ACNA, as I see it, is that they violate one of the key principles that are a part of that Anglican (and indeed catholic) heritage that I laid out in the essay linked above -- the geographical and canonical notion that there should only be one Anglican jurisdiction in any one place. But neither is ACNA an official member of the Communion (in spite of their recognition by some member churches who say they are in communion with them; but the same can be said of, say the ELCA: with whom TEC is in communion, but that communion with them renders them neither Anglican nor members of the Anglican Communion. The same is true of Porvoo churches in relation to England.)

On the one-church-in-a-location issue, I think that, for a time, the "state" was a good balance point for Anglicanism, reflecting as well the settlement in Europe of cuius regio eius religio -- but that this worked best in an established church, which was the case at the time. The lack of establishment across most of the Anglican Communion today, and the increase in means of communication, have made the "national" ideal much more difficult to maintain, as people have less sense of a legal restriction (though it is still an active canonical principle) and the concept of a network is replacing that of either a pyramid or a hub-and-spoke. That doesn't mean I don't still think the nation or region to be an ideal in Anglicanism, but it may be one whose time has passed.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

September 16, 2015

Schroedinger's Communion

Archbishop Justin is poking his crozier into the body ecclesial by calling for another Primate’s Meeting. He doesn’t seem to appreciate that it is the efforts at tighter bondage that have produced the most tension in the Anglican Communion over the last decades. In a way, the Anglican Communion worked best when little or no attention was paid to its formal (though minimal) “governing” structures — such as they are. Continued attempts to shore up greater unity have only caused more division. There is an old saying that if you keep picking at a wound it will never heal. In this context, continuing to open the lid to check on its status is only killing Schrödinger’s Communion with the death of a thousand cats.

— Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG