Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Anglican Political Commentary

Ordinary Time

My many Anglican readers (you know I like both you guys) have been demanding that I provide my own insightful commentary on recent events in the Communion. So get ready. Mind you, this will be insightful - not necessarily responsible or substantiated.

The American version of Anglicanism, this American province of the world-wide Anglican Communion (now availible in Alaska thanks to WiFi!) used to be called, once upon a time, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Type "www.dfms.org" and just see what happens if you don't believe me. Well, I think "Missionary" got embarrassing, so they cut off that bit, and sometime in the 70's, they took the "Protestant" bit out. I imagine that the Anglo-Catholics rejoiced, the evangelicals felt kinda nervious, and the larger liberal population felt a little more legitmate while the charismatically-renewed probably didn't notice. So now it's "ECUSA." The problem being that the province encompasses several provinces in US territories as well as Central America, so the "USA" bit is kind of a misnomer. The General Convention decided to call themselves "The Episcopal Church" (or TEC) instead. Of course, we move to an even more generalizing name, which seems to be a very American arrogance to manifest. Many clergy I've known just refer to it as "The Church" anyway, so I think they should just make it official.

Every province/national church in the Anglican Communion has a regional Metropolitan/Primate/Archbishop, but since here in the colonies they like to avoid any notion that your co-religionists might tell you what to do, the American approximation is the "Presiding Bishop," who guards some kind of "forcefield of love," as Frank Griswold likes to call it. Don't ask me to explain this.

The recent Big Development is that the new Archbishop Presiding Heresiarch of TEC (!) is a girl. Like, blatantly a girl. There are two problems with this.

1. Not only is she a lefty, but she's on the left forefront of every policy in the TEC, like same-sex marriages. And maybe divine raisin cake liturgies, who knows? I think I read a commentator call her a Spongian the other day, but since she refers to "Mother Jesus," she does apparently affirm some kind of personal deity, which means she can't be Spongian. Yes, "Mother Jesus." And I'm pretty sure not in the Dame-Julian-nurses-at-the-metaphorical-breast-of-christ-our-mother way, but rather the god-is-androgenous-and-don't-even-ask-me-about-the-trinity kind of way. But I'm not real clear on it; anybody want to speak to that?

2. Some Anglicans don't think women can be priests or bishops. Most of them have Agreed to Disagree. This is an important concept to which we will return later. It's called "Adiaphora," and the left wing of TEC apparently believes it to be some kind of drain cleaner rather than the operating premise of the Windsor Report. The problem is that when a female bishop (or "bishop" if you prefer) starts consecrating other bishops, you've got a bunch of bishops running around who aren't recognized to have valid episcopal orders. Tomorrow I'll talk more about the Windsor Report, That Ridiculous Resolution, and why the whole thing is gonna blow up.

As a disclaimer, I do as a matter of fact think that bishops can be women and that women can be bishops and just maybe even Anglicans can be bishops (but alas not all bishops can be Anglicans). I'm just saying why it's a political problem.

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Ben Finger said...

Good post!

Randy said...

The Holy Spirit has Her work cut out for her!

Kyle said...

Ha! "She" sure does!

Rob Leacock said...


I think at one point the (P)ECUSA actually toyed around with just calling itself "The Church of America" (a la The Church of England). Thankfully, they didn't go that route. Also, if I'm not mistaken, the official name of Virginia Theological Seminary still retains the word "Protestant". Also, I might be wrong, but I think it was the ever-conspiratorial media who coined "ECUSA" when the fit hit the shan in 2003 and Anglicans started getting a lot more press. I also heard Archbishop Robin Eames speak this past year in New Haven. He said many interesting things, and one of them was that the Windsor Report was not meant to be an over-arching authoritative document, but simply the report that the Eames Commission made. So far that's the most interesting "take" I've heard on the Windsor Report. Oh, and I think that all bishops can be Anglican, if they want; some of them just choose not to be.


PS-On a personal note, I was ordained a deacon this past Saturday, The Nativity of John the Baptist.

Rob of the Corn variety said...

This is very informative, keep it up!

Kyle said...

Hey, thanks for the input, Rob.

I think you're right about VTS; I didn't know that about the coining of "ECUSA." What did folks go with before then? My tutor in Britain used to say, PECUSA, but I told him he was an old evangelical fogey.

Windsor was, and continues to be a funny thing, only as "authoritative" as the people reading it feel like making it. It made sense to me as a kind of "definitive conversation starter" - it sets out issues that have to be dealt with, but it's not something that's been quite ratified or anything.

What do you think of it?

Congratulations on your ordination. :0)

Rob of the Corn variety said...

By the way that "force-field of love" thing made me lol.

Richard from Chico said...

My many concern is that I am one of the two Anglicans you mentioned with affection.

Rob, we have been laughing about +Frank and the force field of love for about nine years ago. But the joke is getting old, so we are looking forward to +Katharine and what I am calling the MEGA-METAPHOR SMACK-DOWN!

So far we have had a rather interesting reference to "Jesus our Mother" that fdmsT(p)ECusa being two conjoined twins. Right away this leads to all sorts of interesting possibilities.

I foresee clergy conferences and vestry retreats mixing and matching the PB's metaphors as a new ecclesiastical parlor game.

Richard from Chico said...

Umm.. that was "my main concern"

Stephen (aka Q) said...

I'm not an Anglican, but I've been watching these developments with interest and concern for a while now. Thanks for explaining things so that a non-Anglican reader like me can get a better grasp on the issues.

btw, I belatedly realized that I misrepresented you as a Roman Catholic on my blog. (No doubt you noticed that!) I've fixed it now.

Rob Leacock said...


I think The Church has a lot of funny names all over the world. It seems curious to me that some African Provinces still call it "The Anglican Church of..." although some have changed the name to better reflect region and cultural circumstances. I'm not really sure what we ought to call it in this region. I'll suggest "Martian Gumball."

As far as the Windsor Report goes, I think that it is in many ways a remarkable document--I certainly appreciate the thoughtfulness and prayerfulness that went into it. And the parts that I can understand, I agree with. What's so curious to me is everyone else's attitudes towards it. As you said, it hasn't as far as I know been ratified or even anything that would approximate ratification. I, too, took it to be a definitive conversation starter, but then it seemed like a lot of people started referring to it as an authoritative document (even so far as to use it as an adjective in describing oneself; example, "I am a Windsor Bishop"). And a lot of the claims made about its authoritativocity seem to be all over the map. Maybe they should have called it "The Windsor Report: Pay Your Money; Take Your Pick." I could be entirely wrong in saying so, but I'm not certain that every province actually accepts everything about the Windsor Report.

Kyle said...

Hehe, you mean like the American province? :0)