14 February 2007

Conspiracy theories abound -- news from this afternoon's briefing

I just came back from a press briefing with Jim Rosenthal of the Anglican Communion Office. There were perhaps 30 (or maybe a few more) reporters there. In addition to major news outlets -- AP, Reuters, BBC, London papers, -- there are people here from the American Anglican Council, Integrity, and sundry other groups. Of course, there were lots of local press people here. This story seems to be gathering steam.

Speaking of steam, there was some concern over Bishop Duncan having "no room at the inn" as the interlocutor said. Really? Apparently his reservation was misplaced or something and he's had to stay at another hotel. Based on earlier reports his hotel is "THE headquarters" anyway, so life should be good for him. For what's worth, the White Sands lost my reservation too. And the hotel where I'm staying neglected to send someone to the airport to pick me up. Do I ascribe it to a vast right-wing conspiracy? No, I just understand this as inefficient bureaucracy. Sometimes a cigar is a cigar, and sometimes a lost reservation is a lost reservation.

Here was the main news of the press briefing: there will be more press briefings. Each night at about 7 p.m. local time, Archbishop Aspinall and others will brief the media on the events of the day. So I'll have some fodder for future posts starting this evening. Also, the media will be allowed to ride over to Zanzibar for the Sunday service on the same (chartered) boat with the Primates. It gladdens my heart to see the church ensuring that its story is told. Of course, there will be a security cordon on the boat to prevent the bishops from interacting with their people.

Speaking of security, the head of security stood at the door during the press briefing. This is, as Stephen Bates of the Guardian pointed out, very unusual. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I wonder if I was meant to be intimated. Or perhaps he wanted to see who the trouble-makers are? My sense of malfeasance was heightened at the security man's Orwellian response to the question about his presence in the press room: "I'm here for your safety." Please. We're in an enclave surrounded by armed guards. The reason he was there, whatever it is, had nothing to do with our safety.

Bishop Katharine, says Jim Rosenthal, is fully assured of her place in the Primates' Meeting. This was said by Archbishop Rowan Williams this morning. This afternoon Katharine will join 10 other new primates in an orientation meeting with +Rowan. Tomorrow is the official start of the Primates' Meeting, and the real fireworks will begin then, I suspect.

Finally, there was a Eucharist this afternoon. When asked if the primates attended, a partial attendance list was provided. Only a few primates were there, and of a particular theological stripe. There was no official list of those present, so I cannot say anything with certainty. Still, it seems to be that there is some irony. The conservative forces are wailing about "last chance for unity" and so forth, but they don't seem to show up for a Eucharist. +Rowan was there with a few primates, mostly from northern provinces. What does this say about our communion? I'll be very interested to see what happens at the Eucharist on Sunday. We're to be allowed in, so there will be no masking who does and does not share in communion -- at this Eucharist of the Anglican Communion primates.

(Note: when I get some more Internet time later today, I'll be posting photos. Come back later.)

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