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Don’t Shoot The Messenger


As one of many voices trying to bring the uncomfortable truth about the proposed Anglican Covenant to the people of the world, I know only too well that the bearer of bad news is unlikely to be popular.

For it has to be admitted that facing up to the truth and acting on it is likely to be awkward and uncomfortable. It would be much more pleasant for all concerned simply to go along with what the Archbishop of Canterbury is asking the Anglican Communion in general, and the Church of England in particular, to do.  After all, if you can’t trust the Archbishop of Canterbury to have the interests of his flock as his prime concern, whom can you trust?

It seems unlikely that Archbishop Rowan has ever sought the advice of an image consultant but he has nevertheless – by luck or good management – achieved a degree of cuddliness unimaginable in his predecessors. With his height, his shock of grey hair and, above all, his impressive eyebrows, he could have chosen to play the role of Elijah, thundering from the mountain-top. But instead (almost certainly quite unconsciously), he has used his attractively modulated voice and his obvious delight in the company of children to project a personality which has led to his being impersonated, not just by a knitted doll but also a woolly bear.

In these circumstances, it is difficult to persuade people that any nostrum advanced by ‘Uncle’ Rowan could be anything other than the panacea that he promises.

“Just a spoonful of medicine, come on now, just to please Uncle Rowan.”

He might as well add, ‘Coochy, coochy, coo!”

Or  “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”.

But where’s the sugar?

Well, I don’t want to shock those of you who have been gently reared, and cannot believe that the General Synod of the Church of England could possibly have anything to do with politics or politicking, but it is rumoured that there will indeed be some sugar on hand to help the medicine go down, and that is the admission of women to the episcopate. If the denizens of General Synod  swallow their Anglican Covenant medicine like good little boys and girls, then Uncle Rowan will let them have women bishops. See what a clever Uncle Rowan we have!

At this point in the story, the spoilsports who arrive to point out that the medicine may have fatal side effects are naturally likely to be hissed like pantomime villains. But their (our) role, which we hope does not turn out to be a tragic one, is to play the part of Cassandra. The daughter of Priam, the King of Troy, she was given the gift of prophecy by the god Apollo: she could see with perfect clarity into the future.  Unfortunately, because she rejected Apollo’s advances, Cassandra was then cursed that her visions, ever more tragic, would never be believed. But her visions were all to come true.





The main illustration is ‘A trumpeting of golden music’ by xtremer via Shutterstock.

The bear is by Madeley Bears; the doll is by Fiona Goble, ‘Knit your own royal wedding’

The painting of Cassandra is by Evelyn de Morgan, via wikipedia

11 comments on this post:

UKViewer said...

I would dearly love to hear the Arch Bishop saying ‘Coochy, coochy, coo’, that would trouble me less than the suggestion here of some sort of bribery being used to pass the Anglican Covenant. If as speculated, the Measure on Women Bishops is to be the sweetener to pass the covenant, that would be totally, morally corrupt and evidence that the church would rather be led by political machinations, rather than the Holy Spirit.

I have to actually trust that Arch Bishop Rowan wouldn’t allow his integrity to be abused in this way. In fact, I can’t believe that he would.

However, I can see a ganging up of those who want the Covenant at all costs, to sink the Women Bishop’s measure out of spite. I hope that I’m wrong about this as well, as I would like to believe that our Church wouldn’t behave in that way.

Lay Anglicana said...

I am sorry to shock you, UKViewer, and I sincerely hope I am wrong. I may well have misread the runes (Apollo never really fancied me, so I cannot claim Cassandra’s 100% success rate)!

21 November 2011 17:45
21 November 2011 17:42
Erika Baker said...

Well, if the women bishop measure doesn’t get passed before the Covenant is voted through it’s unlikely that the CoE will ever be able to pass it. There are a number of very conservative provinces who would, I suspect, be only too happy to wave the new Covenant against the CoE.
And it would be unthinkable that the CoE would be the first to suffer “relational consequences”.

Lay Anglicana said...

What is worrying me now is the possibility that the women bishops will be voted for in General Synod, but with the sort of ‘yes, but’ conditional clause favoured by the Archbishop of York, ie where women become in effect second-class bishops with a tier above them of men willing to be bishops to those parishioners – and clergy, I suppose – who have been out-voted by the majority. I do hope it doesn’t happen.

Meanwhile, as you rightly point out, the hierarchy of the CofE would find it humiliating to contemplate the possiblity of being hoist with their own petard, ie ‘suffering relational consequences’.

What a world we live in!

21 November 2011 20:55
21 November 2011 18:43
Susan Snook said...

Cute Teddy Bear! But in real life (as opposed to Teddy Bear Land), I’m astounded that +Rowan is still taking the Covenant seriously. The GAFCON primates have pronounced it a non-starter; it is dead in the water in New Zealand; it hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell in the U.S.; it faces constitutional issues in the Canadian church that may prevent it being considered; and so on. Why in the world is any church still wasting time on it? Those who do, like possibly the C of E, simply risk being told what to do (and what not to do) by those few provinces that have signed on. There is no “up” side, since it will be very far from a communion-wide consensus document. It is already clear that it will not enhance communion relations.

Lay Anglicana said...

In my darker moments, I think that – since you are so obviously right about the Covenant being a dead issue in the Anglican Communion by now – Archbishop Rowan’s reason for holding resolutely to it, and rallying his troops to push it through the Church of England, is a desire to run the Church of England through the use of central ‘instruments’. Far from moving to the adoption of democratic institutions in The Episcopal Church, as some of us had hoped, the application of the Covenant to the CofE might result in a church more centralist and Papal than the Roman Catholic Church itself.

21 November 2011 21:54
21 November 2011 21:19
Grandmère Mimi said...

Think of it! The standing within the Anglican Communion of entire provinces will be in the hands of the few, the members of the Standing Committee. From the text of the covenant:

(4.2.3) When questions arise relating to the meaning of the Covenant, or about the compatibility of an action by a covenanting Church with the Covenant, it is the duty of each covenanting Church to seek to live out the commitments of Section 3.2. Such questions may be raised by a Church itself, another covenanting Church or the Instruments of Communion.

(4.2.4) Where a shared mind has not been reached the matter shall be referred to the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee shall make every effort to facilitate agreement, and may take advice from such bodies as it deems appropriate to determine a view on the nature of the matter at question and those relational consequences which may result. Where appropriate, the Standing Committee shall refer the question to both the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting for advice.

The Standing Committee decides whether to refer to the ACC or the Primate’s Meeting.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you, Grandmère Mimi, for your customary wisdom.
At this rate, the Standing Committee will consist of Mexico and – I can barely bring myself to write it – the CofE. Somehow I can’t see that working!

23 November 2011 08:37
23 November 2011 00:29
Charlie said...

Hi Laura. I hope you know I have a lot of respect for you and your blog. I just think you are barking up the wrong tree here. I have written a little response on my blog. In short, I think this rumour is a bit silly because the process described is impossible, but I completely agree that the Synod is in a pickle over both women bishops and the Covenant.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you Charlie for this comment. I freely admit I may have got it all wrong – and I hope to goodness I have. I have posted a longer comment to this effect on your blogpost. Meanwhile, thank-you for responding.

23 November 2011 13:33
23 November 2011 12:33

[…] the knitted Rowan. I hadn’t spotted this trend until I read Laura’s waspish comments at Lay Anglicana a few weeks ago. (follow the link to see the pictures, if you don’t believe me) Now David […]

03 December 2011 08:57

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