Friday, July 9, 2010

Cof E: cognitive dissonance

Jim Naughton, chief editor of Episcopal Café, writes in The Guardian:
While following the dazzlingly uninformed debate that the Church of England's General Synod conducted about the Episcopal Church and the schismatic Anglican Church in North America in February, I promised myself that I would never be so arrogant as to pretend to expertise on the internal life of a church in which I was not a member. But as the General Synod convenes once again, to discuss issues about which its members can actually be presumed to know something, I find myself walking right up to the precipice of that promise to say a few words about what it will mean if the synod embraces Rowan Williams' poorly conceived ecclesiastical innovations.

If the synod allows the Archbishop of Canterbury to further compromise the authority of a bishop over his or her diocese in order to appease opponents of opening the episcopacy to women, I suspect the Church of England will muddle along as it always has. A church that can ignore the fact that it has gay bishops ordaining gay priests who live with gay partners, while its leaders enforce various sanctions on churches for having gay bishops who ordain gay priests with gay partners, can allow sexists to dictate the terms on which it moves toward gender equity without being undone by cognitive dissonance.
In the struggle over female bishops and same-sex relationships, Williams and the bishops who are loyal to him have cast their lot not simply with high profile African church leaders, but with the reactionary American culture warriors who finance their activities. This latter group is composed of men whose politics Williams purports to abhor. Yet within the Anglican Communion, the former self-described "hairy lefty" makes common cause with the Institute for Religion and Democracy, an organization founded to oppose the spread of liberation theology and give religious cover to Ronald Reagan's proxy wars in Central America. The scholar who tours the world lecturing on interfaith understanding is an ally in Communion politics with virulent anti-Islamic firebrands affiliated with the North American branch of the Church of Nigeria. The prophet of the sustainable economy cooperates with men who deny that human activity contributes to climate change to deny gays, lesbians and women their full Christian dignity.

1 comment:

IT said...

I also liked this from the Guardian's editorial:

The Church of England now expects both the benefits of establishment and the cultural freedom of private religion. At the very least, a national church should not become disconnected from the best values of the country it serves. But as the general synod, which begins tonight, will again confirm, the Church of England is strangely unwilling to do this. It devotes a shocking amount of energy to debating the supposed inferiority of women, gay men and lesbians. These issues matter intensely to some believers inside the church, but they make it look intolerant to the much larger number of people outside it.

Of course the Guardian wants to promote disestablishment, but regardless of that solution, I think this sums it up.