13 May 2007

The myth of exclusion. Sigh.

As I was perusing T19, I noticed Gerry O'Brien's take (in CEN) on the Martyn Minns installation. It concludes with this bit:
The Washington Post came out with a report on Sunday headed 'Rebel Anglicans appoint a bishop.' It might have been nearer the mark to say that estranged Episcopalians were reasserting their true Anglican identity.
Well, not really. While there are a few spectacularly bad examples, the fact is that there is no broadly rooted liberal persecution of conservatives in ECUSA. This is a fiction designed to justify the taking of property. When pressed, conservatives often start talking about draconian legal measures. And when pressed again, it often turns out that these legal measures were taken after some number of parishioners attempted to claim a church building as they were departing ECUSA.

Many conservatives from ECUSA depart for Rome. As many observers have noted, Pope Benedict would not even for one nanosecond contemplate allowing some dissident Roman Catholics to leave the church and take a building with them. Why do so many Episcopalians seem to have trouble with the notion that the church is larger than their parish?

Oh, there was one other bit of fiction in the O'Brien piece, but it comes from +Peter Akinola. He is quoted as saying:
The Church of Nigeria itself stands to gain nothing from this. We are doing this on behalf of the Communion. If we had not done this many of you would be lost to other churches, maybe to nothing at all.
This seems manifestly wrong on several levels. First, the Church of Nigeria is gaining a presence on the world stage (and its primate gets to be in Time magazine). This would not happen if Akinola were spending his time in Abuja rather than Virginia. Second, one imagines that former ECUSA parishes are sending lots of money to Nigeria, much more than they were sending there via 815. I have no trouble whatsoever with American money supporting mission in Nigeria, but let us acknowledge that the money is flowing. Finally, it is hubris in the extreme that to imagine of Akinola had stayed home, people who do not like ECUSA would "be lost...maybe to nothing at all." Let us be clear. They would have Jesus Christ, they would know God, and they would experience the Holy Spirit. These things do not depend on visitations from Peter Akinola.

As we deal with these crises, it is important to be honest. We need to be honest about ourselves, and we need to be honest about those with whom we disagree. We need to be honest about how the church has treated people, and we need to be honest about how we want the church to treat people in the future.

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