Catching up

As noted previously, my new wireless router has put me back in touch with cyber-Anglicanism. It arrived last Friday, just as I was heading for the Mere Anglicanism conference in Charleston. Upon my return, I immediately installed the thing, although this took another lengthy call to Linksys, but the deed is done. I hope to pick up soon with what I was working on previously, namely the nature of authority in Anglican formularies.

Now, though, I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle (or maybe Austin Powers). Through all of my technical difficulties of the last few weeks, I had been able to read bits and pieces of internet traffic. I’d put up brief posts occasionally, commented on a few other blogs, et cetera. However, for all of my efforts at following developments, I have been out of touch for awhile, a state to which the intense nature of Christmastide only further contributed. So before turning back to Big Questions, I thought I should try to catch up with online Anglicanism.

Reading through six weeks’ worth of entries on about two dozen blogs and websites all at once is, of course, impossible (I’m not that crazy), but little by little I’ve been piecing together how both the events in the real world, and the ongoing discussion in cyberspace, have been developing. What have I found?

Parishes leaving . . . dioceses preparing for potential departure . . . primates meeting in February . . . conferences gathering . . .

No, I won’t comment all at once on all of this stuff. In fact, on much of it I probably won’t comment at all, ever. But for now, I thought I would make a few observations.

Mere Anglicanism

As I wrote in my previous post, I found the Mere Anglicanism conference in Charleston last week a mostly positive experience. I say mostly because of misgivings I had respecting some theological comments made there; but on consideration, I have decided not to air those misgivings here, since a) I did not have the will or courage to do it there and it would be churlish of me to do it now, and b) such an airing might leave a false impression, i.e. that my main reaction was one of disagreement rather than agreement, and that would not be true.

I did, however, get the impression that the “ordination” of women was still an 800 pound gorilla in the room, lurking in the corner and only occasionally acknowledged, but there nevertheless. One interesting moment came when Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, during the q-and-a that followed his second lecture, told of an ecumenical dinner in Rome he attended. Cardinal Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity explained to him that the Church of England, in its deliberations over the issue of women bishops, could not claim to belong to a universal college of bishops that included the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox episcopate and at the same time unilaterally alter the historic character of episcopacy, something with which the Orthodox bishops present, such as Metropolitan Zizioulas, completely agreed.

Still, what seemed to be in the forefront of most folks concerns was the upcoming meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion in Tanzania in two weeks time. Will the Global South primates sit down with Katherine Schori? What is the meaning of the invitation of not only + Duncan, but other TEC bishops as well? Will there be some sort of recognition of a new province in North America, or will the Anglican Communion dissolve into schism? While in Charleston, I had the pleasure of meeting some fellow bloggers, namely the folks at Stand Firm—Gregg Griffiths, Matt Kennedy+, and Sarah Hey—who graciously allowed me to share their table at a “bloggers roundtable” dinner on Friday night. As the sole representative of anyone connected with CaNN, I feel I may have let the side down since, in the discussion with the non-bloggers who came to dine and ask us questions, I was obviously the least informed, for reasons given above. When asked for predictions of what will happen in the Primates’ meeting in Tanzania, I mumbled something about “fudge” while Sarah and Matt both gave articulate reponses (which they have since elaborated on their website here and here).

Then again, perhaps “fudge” was not such a bad answer, given the analysis of überblogger Kendall Harmon (who could not join us that night). Besides, predictions, while fun, are not really to the point at this stage, are they? They tend to reduce discussion to the level of politics or inside baseball. So I’ll stick to “fudge” while hoping for better, along with all those who attended that evening and wondered why that bearded mumbler was allowed to share the stage with the luminaries of Stand Firm.

Praying for Primates

Speaking of meetings in Tanzania . . . I should (belatedly) point those who are interested to the collection of prayer resources for those concerned with the primates’ meeting developed by the assiduous Karen B. of Lent & Beyond. It was originally dubbed the “adopt-a-primate” prayer campaign, but is now mercifully the “2007 Primates Meeting Prayer Campaign.” I say mercifully because, although we’ve probably all heard enough “primate” jokes, “adopt-a-primate” did put me in mind of something from the World Wildlife Fund. Anyway, please pay L & B a visit, and pass it on to a friend.

William Witt has a blog

I recently heard of a frightening statistic: on average, as of last July, 175,000 blogs are created daily, which comes to 7,200 per hour, or two per second! A lot of these, it turns out, are something called “splogs,” a new term for spam blogs. These exist, I suppose, to promote some particular product or fetish when someone searches on Google. Nevertheless, the blogosphere continues to grow and Gresham’s law may begin to take effect eventually.

One blog that should not be lost in all of this noise, however, is the recent creation of William G. Witt, Anglican theologian, star of Anglican Report and occasional commenter here and elsewhere. Bill has put up several thoughtful posts beginning last December, which I am only just beginning to digest. I’ve already commented on one. I trust he will take it in the spirit of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” if I choose to disagree with him on another.

In a post of December 21 entitled “Why not leave?”, Dr. Witt writes

If I were ever to leave Anglicanism, it could only be with a sense of loss, that a noble vision of what it meant to be Christian had been tried for a few centuries, had produced some remarkable successes, and had brought much good to the world. Sadly, it had come to an end, and its loss would be much like that of those parts of the Byzantine Empire that were obliterated by Islam, or the Celtic Christians who faded after Augustine of Canterbury. For me, this would mean that the Church of Cranmer’s liturgy, and Hooker’s theology, and Donne’s preaching, and Herbert’s poetry, and Traherne’s meditations, and Shakespeare’s plays, and Butler’s keen intellect, and Jane Austin’s novels, and Wilberforce’s and Gore’s social vision, and Westcott’s and Hort’s and Hoskyn’s biblical scholarship, and Arthur Michael Ramsey . . . . and Evelyn Underhilll . . . and . . .C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Austin Farrer . . . This Church would be gone forever.

I understand the sentiment, and I completely agree. I have myself written similar things. But . . . it cannot really stand as a reason for remaining Anglican, since it presumes the orthodoxy of historic Anglicanism in the first place, which I thought was the matter in dispute. After all, we mourn the loss of many cultures, even the products of many religions. One does not need to be a follower of Siddartha Gautama to bemoan the deliberate destruction of Buddhist sculpture in Afghanistan by the Taliban, for example.

This is more than a quibble, but to be fair to Dr. Witt, not much more. His arguments as a whole are far more weighty than my quote suggests, though I do not entirely agree with him. So by all means, check them out.


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