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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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There were a remarkable series of dynamics in play at the just concluded House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. For starters, there was the dynamic between the Episcopal Church (increasingly identified as TEC by the rest of the Anglican Communion)– represented by the House of Bishops; and the rest of the Anglican Communion – represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury and several leaders of the Anglican Consultative Council (the ACC). The Archbishop and the representatives of the ACC presented to us a rather united front in their disdain/concern/anger at TEC for getting out ahead of the rest of the Anglican Communion in our actions over the last three years (the more gentle presentation) – or abrogating our commitment to the Communion and the Gospel (the more harsh presentation). We later learned that the ACC position may not have been so united – in that some of the ACC members present, who represented different views, were not given the opportunity to speak to us. It was also troubling to learn that an edited version of the most ardent presentation was on the internet within an hour of it being presented to us.
Another dynamic in play was the sense I had that we are dealing with more than one house of bishops. The primary house is comprised of the vast majority of bishops who stayed through the whole meeting – and who worked hard, and well, to build bridges and create solidarity in the midst of diversity. It appears to me that an ancillary or adjunct House is made up of a small group of dissident bishops who left the meeting as soon as the Archbishop of Canterbury did. Their media champions stayed – and seemed to have versions of our work – with their own unique commentary on it, out in public before we even finished that work.
To my mind, the “primary” House of Bishops was able to sort through these various dynamics, and build on the work that we did at our meeting in March. Although it may not be reflected in our final statement, there was a growing sense during the meeting that we are willing and able to honor our differences – which are reflected in our differing theologies and liturgical practices. There was not an attempt to demand conformity – or to diminish any particular diocesan response to the invitations and challenges of the Gospel.
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Next entry (above): The Diocese of San Joaquin responds to House of Bishops’ Meeting
Previous entry (below): Chip Webb: Possibly the Most Significant Detail of the Mind of the House Statement
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