The "Anglipalian" landscape is just as interesting as ever these days.
Since the Anglican Communion Office released the Archbishop of Canterbury's preliminary Lambeth Conference invitation list last month, there have been predictable rants from the liberal end of TEC's House of Bishops over the exclusion of the Bishop of New Hampshire. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori weighed in early with an exhortation to remain calm and to remember than "things could change" in the next eighteen months before the conference. Perhaps this explains why no one on the left that I have been able to spy out has yet advocated a boycott unless Bishop Robinson is invited.
Meanwhile, there have been equally predictable--though, for the most part, fairly muted--expressions of dismay from the starboard side of the ship over the exclusion of one of the bishops of the Church of Nigeria--a bishop whose "see" happens to lie on U.S. soil, and is therefore seen as a rival for the Anglican franchise in these parts. Mentioned less frequently is the exclusion of the sometime Bishop of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil diocese of Recife, Robinson Cavalcanti, who was deposed by his Primate and House of Bishops, and who, along with some 90% of his clergy and laity, now takes refuge under the umbrella of the neighboring Province of the Southern Cone and Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables. (The Diocese of Recife has since been "reconstituted" by the IEAB, though with the proverbial skeleton crew.)
The Primate of Uganda has announced that his entire bench of bishops will boycott Lambeth if the the majority of TEC's bishops do not have their invitations withdrawn. Curiously, Dr Akinola, the Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria), putative head of the "Global South" group of Primates, has been uncharacteristically reserved in his comments.
This is a great game of chicken. Everybody is jockeying for position, trying to make the other side blink.
The spin doctors on all sides are plying their craft with great fervor. Blah, blah, blah.
But other related stuff is also happening:
Yesterday the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops released a study document aimed at helping their colleagues better prepare to respond to the February communique of the Primates' Meeting in Tanzania. It's nice to know somebody is still paying attention to that document.
Earlier in the week, the Common Cause Partners of the Anglican Communion Network announced an upcoming meeting of bishops who are affiliated with that group--including those who are still heading dioceses of TEC, the bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church (a group that broke away from the evangelical wing of TEC in 1872, but which seems to have gotten over the particular issues that led to that schism), plus those of the Anglican Mission in America, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (reference above-mentioned excluded Nigerian bishop), and various purple shirts from what has been known as the "Anglican Continuum"--Anglican-like ecclesial bodies formed in more recent decades by disaffected Episcopalians. If it looks like a meeting of a "house of bishops," is it one? If it looks like the seed of a synodical structure, is it one? Can anyone say, "New Anglican province"?
Other things are going on as well, about which I unofficially know nothing and officially know even less.
I need a break. I read the headlines, but I don't have the energy at this time to follow the details, or pretend to offer erudite speculation. And maybe it's just the vibes I pick up in the air, but I have a sense I'm not the only one. I think many of us, on both sides of the Great Divide, have reached the conclusion that nobody can win this game, and any number can lose. We can all lose. It looks like we will all lose.
Morris Udall, an Arizona senator a generation ago, described his Democratic party as "a firing squad assembled in a circle." That pretty well describes the Anglican Communion. It certainly describes the Episcopal Church.
Are there any grownups in the room?