You know the old form of teasing. The one where the bigger kid grabs your right arm and uses it to punch your left shoulder. “Stop hitting yourself!” he exclaims and then laughs. Then he does it again.
I can’t help but feel that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams is that teasing bully and The Episcopal Church is the one getting abused.
At General Convention, going on right now, a resolution D025 passed in the House of Deputies and in the House of Bishops. It now faces a review process before being confirmed, but the heavy lifting is done. The resolution states the heart and mind of The Episcopal Church like nothing that has come before. It is gorgeous, beautiful, stunning, and honest. It declares who we are as Episcopalians and I am glad to be one. To read it for yourself, go here.
The overly simplistic description of this is to say that the Convention affirms our process of discernment and that process is open to anyone of any stripe. For some, this is twisted (through bizarro-logic) to imply “bring on the gays!”. Overly simplistic and an utter distortion, but in a 24-hour news cycle, we come to expect distortion.
Here is where my image of the bully forcing the victim to hit himself while pinning the blame squarely on the victim’s shoulders (or hand as the case may be) comes into play. In this pretty fair article by Laurie Goodstein from the New York Times, the author attempts to place this resolution in a context. If you scroll all the way down to the end, notice who gets the last word: Abp Williams. Here is what he said to the Convention:
“Along with many in the communion, I hope and pray that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart.”
Putting this into a (il)logical argument:
People that are mad at you are quitting the team. Regardless of your authority, your arguments, or your good faith, you will be held solely responsible for their actions.
Even though you are the international whipping boy, if you keep proclaiming your innocence, we will have to continue scourging you. If only you’d confess, this would all go away.
You shouldn’t have worn that dress. You invited the sexual assault upon yourself.
And you secretly like it.
The illogic of these examples is proved by the very foundation of the Western judicial system. In this case, the burden of proof begins and remains on the part of the victim (to prove that s/he is the victim of a transgression). In this case, the victim switches, doesn’t it, because according to Abp. Williams and GAFCON and Akinola, etc., conservative Anglicans are the victims of a deep transgression. If they were to take the case to court, they would become the prosecution and TEC would become the defendent. In this arrangement, it would be up to the prosecution to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendent (TEC) was directly and solely responsible for a criminal transgression against the prosecution (conservative Anglicans). Since we have come to no clear conscensus and little agreement, the burden of proof still rests with them, even light of heavy-handed political documents like the Windsor Report.
So here is where the second half of the statement from Abp. Williams comes in:
“If we — if I — had felt that we could do perfectly well without you, there wouldn’t be a problem.”
Gee, thanks! That’s like saying “you know, you aren’t half as ugly as your sister!” What a compliment, Rowan!
The optimist in me says that this is the Archbishop’s acknowledgement that he needs TEC and that the Anglican Communion really can’t work without us. The pessimist in me points out that he’s thought about it, and he isn’t above cutting us off. This reveals a sinister and political side to Abp. Williams that he is ordinarly careful to conceal. That his theology of reconciliation can allow for separation. That preservation of the international church is more important than the very theology and scriptural authority he uses to defend his positions.
But mostly, it reveals a bully that figures that:
(hand+opposite shoulder) x hitting = culprit
What a strange way to see the world.