The Big Push?

Is this the beginning, or the high-water mark, of the pressure being put on Williams and the Anglican Communion to change course and do something severe to the Episcopal Church?

We have Bishop Nazir Ali applying pressure by threatening not to attend Lambeth, Archbishop Jensen calling for a new Anglican communion, Archbishop Orombi chiming in, and the CAPA provinces issuing their own condemnation--all this admidst similarly placed conservative voices and other lesser lights like David Anderson raising their voices too. That's alot of noise.

But note a few things that might be significant:

(1) These big guns are employing big hyperbole unhelpful to any effort to calm the situation, get parties back to the table, and work anything out. The hyperbole--in many cases obviously false but inflammatory stuff like the claims TEC is abandoning the AC or is ignoring the Primates--signals (a) that what is actually the case needs to be inflated and exaggerated if the Separatist cause is to maintain momentum--the truth is not enough, and (b) these big guns are set in their path, and are interested in moving full-steam ahead somewhere special. They aren't interested any longer in the Windsor Process. Having lost control of its vector, they are ready to try something new.

(2) The new thing that the Spirit is working (I say this with conscious irony) among the Separatists is going forward regardless of whether a split can be engineered in the Church of England. Things are in the works that will not be unwrought; they could be unwrought, efforts could be recalled of course. But they will not be. For instance, Fort Worth is signalling now, apart from any credible threat of fracture in the CoE, that it is abandoning the communion of the Episcopal Church as soon as it can--at least it will give it a sincere try. And we may well see "Global South" provinces trying to poach Episcopal provinces. Duncan is going ahead with his CCCP scheme. It is all very risky, in that they may find themselves out in the cold, having merely enlarged the unhappy Anglican continuum. Part of the Global South gospel, however, is that it is worth the risk. That's news.

(3) I would have thought the news that whole provinces were wagering their full being as church on a risky scheme was big news, and that there was no way they would even have put such a process in motion considering the stakes unless the fix was in and in their favor. But I am willing to bet while the fix is indeed in, it runs against them. Reform's call for a split in the CoE was a dud. If it had not been a dud, things would look very good for the Separatist project. But so far, a split in the CoE looks remote. Sure, there are very unhappy Extremists in the CoE in rather high places who would have happily gone with a split, but for the moment more reasonable voices have held the line. As a result, the note of unity has prevailed--for the moment--and there is no credible threat of a split in the CoE.

As long as there is no credible threat of a split in the CoE, a split in the AC is tolerable. One could say a split in the AC was inevitable anyway, with TEC or else some of the GS being removed in time. Given that fact, the question was which party? The parting of some of the GS has the profound advantage that it can be engineered by the GS itself--they seem all too happy to follow Jensen's advice.

They may waffle; we may see them fail to leave, and there may be more wrangling over whether their American novelties count as Anglican in the normal sense or in some diminished sense. That would be an even better outcome for TEC I think, though the wrangling might be unpleasant. Given how the GS has gummed up the Windsor Process, they are unlikely to be credible partners in how it goes forward even if they stay. For there will always remain a question, given what they have said already about leaving: should we give them what they want in this process, given that they are not serious about the process and they very well may leave instead of seeing it through? That is, there is a good case to be made now that ANY compromise with the GS is stupidly self-defeating, given that they have let all know near and far that they are Quitters at heart relative to the Windsor Process.

Thus, whether they leave soon for a new communion of their own devising, or waffle and wrangle some more--and it seems to me this type of pressure will continue as long as it can be ginned up by the usual suspects--this is the high-water mark. The big bombs yet to fall--Fort Worth and others trying to leave--will not yield the hoped for results, separation and replacement, because there isn't sufficient support in the CoE, as that would require being willing to split the CoE: the quitters becoming disestablished. The big bombs will fall in all likelihood, and there will be a big crash, but that will not qualitatively shift the situation.

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