Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Monday, February 14, 2011


I have been thinking about the way the so-called covenant is being advanced and opposed. I think it is telling and I wonder if you see what I see.
  • On the blogs of the members of the No Anglican Covenant Campaign, on the Facebook page and Internet site of the group (see the links to the left here) and on various other blogs you will find carefully constructed arguments against the document.
  • On various "traditional" or "Orthodox" sites you will find arguments against the thing on an "effects basis." That is, the reason to oppose the so-called "Covenant" is that it does not permit the self-defined holy people to smite the evil ones (the progressives). So it lacks a desired effect.

    While I can only welcome the opposition, the argument is weak. In fact section four does permit the archbishop of Canterbury with a few cooperative primates to impose sanctions (neatly called something else, "relational consequences") on those he chooses to persecute. Without ratification, he and Canon Kearon have already attacked two provinces. The effect may not be what the "orthodox" want but it exists none-the-less.
  • In the discussion of the document at various meetings (cf. General Synod) it is advanced not on merit (Well that is fair - it has none!) but as a matter of loyalty to Dr. Williams, or the whole communion.
Nowhere I can find is there a group analogous to this one that wants to claim the document should be endorsed on merit.

No one is advancing serious arguments for it: instead one hears about "holding the communion together." How that is to happen when as is likely a great many provinces refuse to endorse and some have effectively withdrawn now it is never explained.

I find this fascinating as we could expect its authors to form such a support group quite naturally. Unless as they should be they are somewhat ashamed of it. I would be.

There is an historic parallel. When the Treaty of Versailles was written, John Maynard Keynes, Sir Winston Churchill and a number of others attacked it as the horrible mistake it was. Almost no one defended it on an intellectual or logical basis. Rather they attacked the former German government for starting WWI. The treaty went into general effect (note that the USA did not ratify it) and we saw the rise of WWII. One thing is clear: relational consequences happen.

Where are the voices for this thing, the arguments that section four makes sense? There are not any and that is perhaps a logical consequence of what it is. Why are no defenders or proponents as engaged in the discussion as we opponents? I can think of some reasons, but beyond elitism ("we are the archbishops and we say so!") I suspect there is little enthusiasm for discussion where one can only look silly.

The proponents really do not have much of a case and so silence and fear, "let's hold things together" are in play instead. Or so it seems to me.

jim B.
Jim's Thoughts


Blogger Malcolm+ said...

I think, with respect, that you've missed one group. You've covered te Convenantskeptics and the "traditionalists" and so-called "orthodox. But you've missed the Communion fundtionaries and the Lambeth Palace hangers on.

This last group have not taken the same "effectualist" tack as the "traditionlists" and so-called "orthodox" at all. Instead, they have offered up bland reassurances, viscious ad hominems and manipulative emotional blackmail.

Essentially Rowan's assorted groupies have argued thus:

"The Covenant really doesn't force anyone to do anything. If you object to the Covenant you're a fascist. If the CVovenant is defeated it would hurt poor Rowan's feelings."

February 15, 2011 at 4:49 AM  
Blogger JimB said...

Point taken. In the past I have noted what I call the "sin of institutionalism" and I think you are describing its manifestations when you identify what the Lambeth sycophants have offered. But that is a miss in this post I suppose.


February 17, 2011 at 2:21 AM  
Blogger WSJM said...

This question is a bit off-topic, but I honestly don't know the answer and am hoping that someone else does. It occurred to me as I was reading jimB's statement: "In fact section four does permit the archbishop of Canterbury ... to impose sanctions ... on those he chooses to persecute. Without ratification, he ... [has] already attacked two provinces."

When +Rowan was at Georgetown in 2007 working on his Dostoevsky book*, did he ever attend Sunday worship at a local parish of The Episcopal Church? (Jim Naughton said on The Lead at the time that +Rowan had not done so on previous visits.) I absolutely understand that +Rowan did not want to dress up in cope-and-mitre and go solemnly stalking about (as we used to call it!) while he was in town. He wanted to keep his presence low-key, and I appreciate that. But did he never slip quietly into a rear pew at an early Eucharist at an Episcopal Church?

If you want to know about Dostoevsky or Arius, +Rowan may be your man. The Anglican Communion, perhaps not so much.

*A book on Dostoevsky is certainly a valuable contribution to the world's literary studies. But perhaps, all things considered, there was an issue of priorities.

February 17, 2011 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger JimB said...

I do not know the answer and it is hard to prove a negative but my impression at the time was "nope."

Arius and Dostoevsky are certainly interesting. Americans if you think you know it all about us because you do not care for GHW Bush, not so much. ;;sigh;;


February 17, 2011 at 10:16 PM  

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