Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Friday, July 09, 2010

From confused to disappointed

I guess I shouldn't be surprised -- according to today's news, Jeffrey John is no longer on the list ( to become Bishop of Southwark.

What disappoints me is not the fact that his name is not going forward -- that part, frankly, was not unexpected. My disappointment comes from the way the English church, and specifically the Archbishop of Canterbury, has acted.

I'm not usually vulnerable to conspiracy theories -- I find them interesting and sometimes even compelling, but I try to see the larger picture. Except now.

There is no logical reason for the news leak about John's potential candidacy except that somebody (whether the progressives or evangelicals) needed to float a trial balloon to see what would happen. And guess what...people noticed. The Church of England suddenly looked relevant (to put the best spin on it). Or the Church of England was trying to distract the media from the far more testy issue of the ordination of women bishops which will be debated this weekend.

The one who doesn't come off well through all this, though, is ++Rowan. According to the news report, he's furious, and he's making people sign oaths of secrecy and -- gee whiz -- apparently wants to take the church back into some murky dark past, where the machinations of the modern world and the contemporary media must be held at bay.

Let me offer the experience of our last General Synod: while I would have preferred some level of decision about the human sexuality matter, the one thing we didn't do was turn off the cameras and bar the press. The critics of our decision-making process can't say they didn't understand it because they didn't see it.

Let me offer the experience of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church when Kenneth Kearon was their guest last month -- he wanted to turn off the cameras and kick out the press. ++Katherine offered the group the decision about whether or not to keep their discussion public -- and they did. Kearon came off, frankly, as a deer in the headlights.

And now, ++Canterbury and ++York are plotting a compromise that would make female bishops second class in the Church of England by allowing the Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals to nominate their own male bishops before whom they can kneel or kow tow. Homophobia and Gynophobia seem to the be real authorities in the Church of England.

Today's weigh-in: 235 More authority needed.


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