Thursday, June 29, 2006


(With apologies to Aretha)

Jim Naughton, who seems to have signed up to be the Episcopal Diocese of Washington's Canon Spinmeister, tries his hand at Rowan Williams's "Reflection" on the Anglican communion:
As I read the archbishop, he, like many others, is suggesting that the struggle in the Anglican Communion is not about homosexuality but about how we make decisions in concert. To me that is similar to saying that the American Civil War was not about slavery but about states' rights. Both arguments allow you to ignore sins against humanity while you debate the nature of polity.
Well, perhaps Naughton ought to reflect a minute as to who the despot is in "Maryland, My Maryland". Casting John Chane as Abraham Lincoln might work within the diocese-- after all, look at how things went under Jane Dixon-- but in the communion as a whole, it isn't going to fly.

But perhaps Cantuar is supposed to stand in for the Tyrant Lincoln. Well, then perhaps the War of Northern Agression, the War Between the States, the War to Free the Slaves might then be a better analogue-- but for one fact. Cantuar is actually capable of no tyranny over PECUSA. He can expel us from the club, but he cannot do more than that.

And it is more than a little disingenious to suggest that homosexuality is the only issue presented by PECUSA. After thirty years, ordination of women is not universally accepted in the communion. What with the "Mother Jesus" sermon (which, coupled with Jefferts Schori's address to the deputies, gave us the repugnant image of Jesus giving birth to a montrous PECUSA), we have the next crisis: first sacraments, then morality, and next the language of theology itself. Williams's reflection fairly hammers on this point: that the succession of American adventures is in its essence a repudiation of conciliarity, and that therefore it's not at all unreasonable to deny the Americans a place at council.

There are in fact two struggles going on. At the moment, statements from Canterbury are but rumors of war. The bigger problem for the bishop of Washington is that his erstwhile liberal allies have (perhaps) reneged, and are choosing conciliarity over conscience. That's the real purpose of Naughton's statement: to pressure (say) the Bishop of Maryland to give consent if and when the Diocese of Newark or some other diocese elects the next homosexual bishop. If we are casting roles in the Late Unpleasantness, it's as easy to cast Chane as Leonidas Polk, especially considering the language of rebellion I hear from his corner. Over on Fr. Jake the war of choice is that of 1776, with Williams as, well, the British; I guess they prefer to cast GC as the Continental Congress. So-- has anyone seen Richard Henry Lee recently? Or would the troops of Chane's diocese rather fire on Ft. Pitt-- er, Ft. Sumner?

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