Thursday, February 22, 2007

Trying to think straight

Pondering the shenanigans at/after Dar es Salaam. (If you don't know what I'm referring to, give thanks, and move along swiftly). These are more interim thoughts. (Click Full Post to read).

1. What I have written before (here) still represents my understanding of the underlying issues at stake. However, I'm now not so sure about item 6, that the CofE will remain in communion with TEC. My impression of the conclusion to Dar es Salaam is that a plank has been placed on the edge of the ship, and TEC has been invited to step onto it.
2. On the fundamental issue, my perspective has been steadily solidifying in favour of authorising same-sex blessings. (NB I have a pretty strong view on the importance of ordination vows, one of which involves not using unauthorised services, so I don't expect to be carrying any out any time soon). I'm not persuaded that there is no merit in the traditional teachings prohibiting rectal intercourse, nor that this is simply a matter of personal preference, but I am more and more convinced that this is a) none of my business, and b) something which can be established from within the gay Christian context, and does not need to be imposed from outside. (I take for granted that a gay man can be as immersed in Scripture as a straight man). It also, of course, completely ignores female homosexuality, where I suspect the traditional prohibitions have no purchase.
3. Whilst TEC might, therefore, have underlying justice on their side, I think they have repeatedly undermined their own position through a reckless disregard for the 'bonds of affection', most especially with regard to +Robinson. More than that, I find much of the theological perspective articulated within TEC to be bafflingly bad, and barely Christian. It seems to me now that there is a very strong case for TEC to make a prophetic witness - but that witness will be compromised through dilution with extremely bad theology. There is also the distinct smack of self-indulgence in some quarters.
4. Having said that, nothing from TEC seems as monstrous as that emanating from Nigeria. With TEC I have arguments; with +Akinola there seems a heart of darkness, which is quite clearly not Anglican in any sense that I have understood it. Thank God for the South Africans, and the other sane African voices, otherwise my PC conscience would be descrying my own racism - which would play in precisely to +Akinola's own satanic manipulations. (I'm using satanic there in a Girardian sense.)
5. I had hoped that the half-dozen Akinola devotees would have walked out, leaving the remainder to continue a recognisably Anglican communion. That had always been my perspective on Rowan's strategy. However what now seems to be opening up is a great abyss of schism - not the departure of TEC from the Anglican Communion, for however messy that might be, it would still be a substantially whole church separating itself off. No, what has now opened up in a way that I had really not been expecting, is the sense that the CofE itself will split apart. Establishment will soften things, and slow things down, but I know that there are people within the CofE making contingency plans on this question. Which is really very depressing. It will make the arguments about women priests look easy. Several more substantial lacerations on the road to the death by a thousand cuts.

I hold on to Keble's idea: even if the Church of England were to fail, it would still be found in my parish.

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