Every now and then I catch up on what is going on with the controversies within the Anglican Communion among the bloggers who are most prolific. Mark Harris (Preludium), a priest in Delaware and member of the Episcopal Church (TEC) Executive Council and Kendall Harmon (Titusonenine), the Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, are two of these. Over the past couple of years, and despite my respect for much of what he has written in the past, Harris has become more typically Baby Boomer-ish (those who believe they are given an unique charge to remake the world in their own image and bring in the age of Aquarius by the dismantling all that came before them) and particularly stereotypically American (those who expect their will to be done around the world simply because we are Americans, so smart, so progressive, and so right). After all, we just want what is best for the world and its people, and we know exactly how everyone needs to act and what they need to believe.
All these machinations we are hearing from the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. concerning steps being taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) and the governing structures of the Anglican Communion because we snub our nose and refuse to abide by a couple requests made of us by those bodies, increasingly smacks of people who are used to getting their way, but no longer can.
Now, honestly, I have to admit that abiding by these two requests will impact my life, but only minimally. What I have to acknowledge is that I don’t always get my way, I don’t have a “right” to anything within the Church or the Body of Christ, and that I consider myself to be part of a Church that is Catholic – all of these things cause me to recognize, acknowledge, and abide by things I don’t like, think is fair, or consider to be right. It isn’t all about me or my group. By saying that, I do not even consider that I stop advocating for myself, my group, what I think to be God’s will, what I believe to be right for the good order, safety, and benefit of all, and an advocate for those who are terribly abused by other Anglicans around the world and demand that they stop their abuse.
Soon, “imperialist” America will have to deal with the rest of the world standing up to us. How will we as a people and as a nation act when this really starts to happen in earnest? Will we join the rest of the world as equal partners or… will we continue to act like imperialists and attempt to force our will on the world or… will we retreat into isolationism?
The Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church are a foreshadowing of all this and how Americans will probably act.
So many of our reactions in TEC (at least among many of its leadership) smacks of an “imperialist” Episcopal Church that generally got its way within Anglicanism (because we were Americans and we had the money), but now has to deal with foreign people standing up to us and saying, “our views count and we aren’t going to let you get away with this anymore.”
Now, we may absolutely disagree with them and actually may be absolutely right – but we are still being stood up to. We don’t like it, so we laughingly do things like accuse the ABC of acting like a colonial authority when he, completely within his right, “interferes” in TEC, which claims to be an Anglican province by definition in communion with him. We just can’t stand being stood up to.
How are we going to act, now?
Are we going to join the rest of the Communion as equal partners and recognize that all (but a few) have requested that we don’t do a couple things and that as equal partners sometimes we have to give a little (while still being ardent advocates of our position) or… are we going to attempt to force our will one very one else (something like Spong’s attack on African bishops) or… will we simply retreat into isolationism and claim we don’t need the rest of the Communion and gloriously declare that we are our own sect?
I keep hearing all the above from our leadership, except, really, that we see ourselves as equal members of the Communion and that sometimes we don’t get our way. Send no more money to them… we can do just as well on our own and who needs them – these are the attitudes I hear and read the most.