Tuesday, March 27, 2007

two pieces well worth reading

One is from Father Ephraim Radner, and constitutes Part 2 of the reflections I brought to your attention last week (which are also well worth (re)reading).

The other is from Jordan Hylden, a bright young thing (Fry on Waugh), and Junior Fellow at First Things and postulant in the Diocese of North Dakota. Jordan writes about the ECUSA House of Bishops' response to the Dar es Salaam Communique. Some of the more interesting bits from Jordan's piece:

In their statement, the American bishops accused the global Anglican primates of “unprecedented” spiritual unsoundness and solemnly spoke of the Episcopal Church’s “autonomy” and “liberation from colonialism,” which they understood to be threatened by the creeping rule of “a distant and unaccountable group of prelates.” Apparently, they were serious. With no sense of irony, the bishops of an overwhelmingly white, wealthy, and liberal American church actually saw fit to accuse their fellow Anglicans—many of whom are from poor third-world countries—of “colonialism.”

Sadly, the bishops’ rejection of the Pastoral Council means that the disorderly and painful fracturing of the Episcopal Church will likely continue apace, since the bishops do not seem willing to provide any sort of acceptable safe space for conservatives. It also means that tension with Rowan Williams and the primates will ratchet up another notch—their proposed Pastoral Council, by which the primates intended to work with the Episcopal Church, will almost certainly now be implemented against the Episcopal leadership’s will. Conservatives who wish to participate in it will have to do so in defiance of national church leadership, and they may be subject to discipline.

The absurdity of this situation—wherein Episcopalians could be disciplined for daring to conform to Anglican “doctrine, discipline, and worship,” just as printed in every single prayer book in every Anglican pew—apparently has not yet occurred to the Episcopal bishops.

And here is the crucial bit. This part has been under-noticed, I think. Though I'm pleased we noticed it at Whitehall. It concerns the House of Bishops at-first-sight bizarre and even absurd insistence that "The meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.” Of course this is where the Episcopal Church defines and constitutes itself as a "constituent member" of the Anglican Communion, and "in communion with the See of Canterbury". The fear of the bishops is of course that if the Anglican Communion suddenly decided that a majority of ECUSA is no longer a "constituent member" of the Communion, or if the See of Canterbury suddenly decided that ECUSA was no longer in communion with him, but that the Network IS, then that would potentially have very bad legal ramifications for the liberals: the conservatives (who remain "constituent members" of the Communion, and who remain "in communion with the See of Canterbury" might suddenly find themselves the sole heirs of the Episcopal Church, as the Episcopal Church has defined and constituted itself. The lunatic ECUSA bishops must not let that happen, so in a move that Jordan Hylden rightly notes to be worthy of Lewis Carroll, the bishops declare that they are the sole arbiters of who is in communion with whom. "You can't kick us out! Only we can kick us out!" What will they do next? Send Rowan Williams an invitation to the Lambeth Conference?

The depths of this episcopal delusion is reminiscent of the scene in Woody Allen's movie Bananas, where the character played by Allen is made the dictator of a small Latin American nation called San Marcos. He decrees that all children under the age of sixteen are now over the age of sixteen, that the national language will be changed to Swedish, and that all citizens are to change their underwear every thirty minutes, and wear it on the outside for easier inspection by the authorities.

In the end, this move is to insure that the ECUSA hierarchy can maintain, come hell or high water, their own legal basis for suing the pants off the orthodox if they try to leave ECUSA with any property. But it just goes to show the absurdities into which base desires can lead you.

Here's what Jordan says about it:

By stating that the meaning of this sentence is determined solely by General Convention, the Episcopal bishops are doing nothing less than claiming that what it means to be Anglican, what it means to be in communion with Canterbury, what it means to be a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and hold to the historic Christian faith—that all of this is to be decided solely by the democratic vote of clergy and laypeople once every two years in a Marriott hotel convention room, with reference to nothing and nobody. It is breathtaking in its arrogance.
Breathtakingly arrogant indeed. Go read the two pieces for yourself. They're both very good.


Father Nelson said...

What I'm shocked about is their insistence that language is meaningless outside of the meaning assigned, well, theirs truly.

Now, in addition to the Faith once delivered, they attack the Enlgish language and language in general. Along these lines, colonialism means whatever they want it to. Anglicanism means whatever that think it should. So on and so forth.

The effect of all of this will be much like the Tower of Babel. Everyone is talking, but no one understands because meaning is determined by the narcissistic self.

Anonymous said...

The way that I explained it to my church was with a reference to a Seinfeld episode in which George tries to break up with a woman. He tells her that it's over and her response is "No, we're not." She explains that a relationship is like a nuclear sub. Both parties have to turn the key in order to fire the missle.
I always wondered what such an absurd situation would look lke in real life; now I know.

Michael R