The Good fight – or is it?

Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, had a big shin-dig in his honor the other day. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year by Time magazine, it seems.
Here is a report from an African online news source coving the event with highlights of Akinola’s speech to those assembled.
One quoted part of Akinola’s speech is worth noting, I think:

“The real reason is that the leaders of the Christian faith in the western world have come to realize that Africans can no longer be put under spiritual slavery.
“The Europeans who knew nothing about African origin and background had been trying to impose things on us.
“We have been through physical slavery, we have been through economic slavery, political slavery and now spiritual slavery”, he said.”

Spiritual slavery? The West is now attempting to spiritually enslave Africans?
There is no question that the West has exploited Africa and Africans. Chattel slavery was (and is) a tragedy. Akinola needs to also acknowledge the role of tribal Africans in the enslavement of their own people and the exploitation that occurs within all societies, cultures, and nations through time – Nigeria included.
To cast the consecration of a gay American Bishop, the ordinations of gay priests, or the advocacy in some corners of same-sex unions (the cause of current controversies within world-wide Anglicanism) in the West in a similar light as forced physical slavery is ridiculous and disingenuous. He may honestly perceive things in this way, but it is just plain wrong and profoundly misplaced. Is he being honest, or is he simply making hyperbolic statements for effect?
To posit that what the Western Church has done is an attempt to enslave the African Churches is absurd. They simply do not have to accept Western bishops, priests, deacons, or policies. That is their right as autonomous provinces within Anglicanism. The Western Churches do not have the authority to impose anything on the African Churches. We are not attempting to withhold money to force them to accept our viewpoint. As a matter of fact, Uganda and other diocese have rejected funds freely given by the American Church with no strings attached for medical and poverty relief.
Peter Akinola should be ashamed of himself. He can disagree and passionately advocate for his position, even to the point of breaking fellowship. That is his prerogative, but to claim we are attempting to “spiritually enslave” Africans is beyond the pale.
The website also reports:

Akinola… said the latest attempt to bring in immoral practices into the Anglican Church by some western countries is bound to crumble.
He said our western brothers appeared about to reason with us in this struggle. “They are beginning to say, let’s look at their points of argument, may be these people are right”.

I don’t think Akinola’s opinion is correct. I don’t think he will find the West, at least most of it, agreeing with him. He will see it as further evidence of the West’s apostasy, but he truly does approach these subjects from a very “fundamentalist” position – it is his position and none other.

Spiritual Autobiography

In our proto-Home Group (I am helping St. Paul’s develop a Home Group/Cell Group structure) two weeks ago, we were reading through the final sections of Peter’s first epistle. We are to be prepared always to give a defense for why we believe. So, the assignment for this week’s home group is to write a “spiritual autobiography” with the thought in the back of our minds to write in a way that will help us be prepared to give a reason for why we believe.
Here in New York, there is a kind of fascination of those who have faith, but generally for those who can simply live a life of faith without the rancor or antagonism or condemnation that is so prevalent in many Christians of a certain sort who are doing battle in their Culture War. I can’t help but run into people who want to discuss spiritual issues, God, Christianity, and what it all means in and for life. To be able to give a good explanation of or reason for the faith is important.

Fr. Jake Stops the World
has made available space for essays, what in Evangelicalism would be called a testimony – of sorts, of faith and of why Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church is now so important to the writers. The first story reminds me in many ways of my own story – my own defense of the faith.
For this week’s home group, I hope to better hone my understanding of my own spiritual journey, why I came into Anglicanism, and why I am now a priest in this Church. This is a different endeavor than the spiritual autobiographies I’ve had to write leading up to ordination. It is important to remind ourselves, those of us who find in easier to talk about the significance of God in our lives, to remind ourselves why we continue on this very challenging and difficult journey of relationship with God.