Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hegel has a lot to answer for!

A bit peripatetic these days so struggling to keep an eye on things but have managed a quick look at a few things coming out of the Roman synod on the family. All very thesis and antithesis and the synthesis might surprise or it might look like the current status quo. In which latter case one would be entitled to wonder what Francis is up to.

Be that as it may, in the midst of this report is a very technical discussion about Hegel and his influence on Protestants such as Cardinal Kasper. OK, that last phrase is a small joke at either Protestants' or Kasper's expense. But the thing is Hegel was brilliant and likely very wrong. Yet somehow he has been very influential. When you last heard a sermon abut Jesus suffers when we suffer, the preacher may not have realised that whatever else he or she is bearing witness to, it is to Hegelianism!

Or have I misunderstood Hegel?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Child 44

I watched Child 44 the other day, a movie based on a Tom Rob Smith novel by the same name. There is nothing Anglican in this Russian movie but I reckon there is a bit of theology to tease out. Maybe this could rescue the film which I see has some poor reviews and a low Rotten Tomatoes score.

SPOILER ALERT: you may like to watch the film before reading further!

I liked the way the movie is a series of narratives superimposed on one another. Narrative 1 is a 'whodunnit' as security officer-cum-detective Leo Demidov sets out to solve a serial killer murder mystery.

Narrative 2 is a thriller as an enemy of WW2 hero Demidov pursues him and Raisa his wife intent on killing them.

Narrative 3 is a quest for truth and personal integrity within the Stalinist Soviet Orwellian nightmare in which people are denounced, extreme tests of loyalty to the state grotesquely imposed and the serial killing of children is explained as a series of accidents since there are no murders in paradise. Demidov personally awakens to a new consciousness in the course of the movie inspiring courage to pursue the truth and to bear witness to that truth by asking others to join him.

Narrative 4 is a love story as Leo and Raisa discover they love each other despite Leo initially being willing to denounce her to the authorities on a strictly utilitarian ethic (only she will die if denounced, four people (Leo, Raisa, two parents) will die if not), and Raisa admitting that she married Leo out of fear of consequences if she refused the proposal of one of Stalin's security officers.

Narrative 5 is a story of repentance and redemption as Leo agrees with Raisa to adopt two children left as orphans after one of Leo's security operations.

Narrative 6 is a confrontation between the powers of good and evil, The serial killer and Vasili (Leo's enemy within the security service) try to destroy Leo as 'saviour' ... of 'little children'; the former by tempting Leo to agree with him that he and the serial killer are really just two of a kind, the latter simply by trying to kill him.

Narrative 7 is a story of words and how they may be twisted to define and redefine reality, to say one thing and mean another thing, even to avoid facing real reality. At the end of the film, the Soviet authorities have to admit that the murders have taken place. But they cannot admit that the Soviet Union is therefore not a paradise. Cleverly an explanation is found, a bridge between ideology and reality is built. The serial killer had been a prisoner of the Germans in WW2. They had 'turned him', made him into an agent programmed to destroy paradise by killing its children. There was no Soviet murderer in paradise, just a German one.

Sometimes, if we are honest, certain moves in theology are little different from the '(il)logic' in Narrative 7 ...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Closet Episcopalian?

Ross Douthat makes an amazing claim as he assesses the Pope's visit to America and the general themes emerging from his papacy:

"The second tendency, though, is one that Francis has tacitly encouraged, by empowering clerics and theologians who seem to believe that Rome’s future lies in imitating the moribund Episcopal Church’s approach to sex, marriage and divorce."

TEC and its supporters won't like Douthat's "moribund".

Francis and his supporters won't like the comparison with TEC ... There are more conservative Anglican churches with which comparison could be made :)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Welsh involved in sort of draw?

Not the Rugby World Cup, where Wales play England soon and each is desperate to win and a draw will help neither side in their quest to advance to the quarter finals. But the recent General Synod of the Anglican church in Wales came to a sort of draw. Technically the Synod voted in three houses to approve the bringing of legislation in favour of same sex marriage. But the voting was close enough for the bishops to take stock of the situation and deem it not appropriate to bring forward legislation.

You can read it here.

Wales would appear not to equal Canada (see below). Each church is a reminder of varying responses to the possibility of change re marriage in Anglican churches.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Humpty-Dumpty Updated or, how I can fix the Communion!!

Humpty-Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty-Dumpty together again.

But in the case of the Anglican Communion this is not going to be true.
Humpty Communion Dumpty can be put back together again.

According to Giles Fraser.

There's no need to blame the usual suspects (say) John Spong or Peter Akinola or Gene Robinson or Peter Jensen or Rowan Williams or even Henry VIII for the Communion's 'great fall' in the last decade or so (H/T MCJ for that line).

No, Giles Fraser pins the blame on a man who may not even be an Anglican. And he is not talking about the Pope, the Patriarch or Richard Dawkins.

Tim Berners-Lee, that's the man.

Oh, and maybe all the Anglican bloggers who have taken advantage of hyperlinks!!

But Giles thinks that might be turned around, that Humpty-Dumpty might be put back together again (albeit with changes, more Dumpty-Humpty than Humpty-Dumpty).

Hyperlinks are the Anglican future :)

I shall play my part ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

This might be important

Canadian Anglicans have published this report on marriage and changing their canon.

As I understand it, if their General Synod approves their recommended change to their marriage canon, the Canadian Anglican church would both approve same sex marriage AND approve opt outs ranging from diocesan synods prohibiting solemnizations of same sex marriage in their dioceses, to bishops so prohibiting, to congregations so prohibiting, to clergy being free to decline. Cake. Eat. Is it a way forward?

If the Communion splits, will we understand why?

There is a very good comment on the Fulcrum site where I mention my previous post. The comment is by Bowman Walton. I have emboldened some words which particularly strike me as illustrating the division in the Communion these last dozen years or so, why we will divide (formally, finally) absent a miracle, and why we might not understand how this will have come about:

"Some labels may change, Peter, and the path may be unpleasant at points, but all are going to get what they want in the end. Churches that love Anglican churchways and share global koinonia among themselves will keep both and maybe deepen them. Churches like TEC that love the churchways but viscerally fear that global koinonia will keep the former and will be released from the rights and responsibilities of the latter. The two sides may not like each other, but because they agree that they disagree on how strong a church or Communion should be, the long term outcome of this is not in serious doubt.
This result might be easier for some to take if we had a common narrative explaining how it happened that, at the same time that the Lambeth Conferences were becoming the cherished Anglican Communion in some places, those in other places were instead championing an idea that Anglicanism is the fundamentally the right to be left alone. Absent that narrative, neither side recognizes the legitimacy of the other. Some of us fail to see that the tacit norms we assume for global koinonia seem strange and menacing in churches with designedly weak governance structures such as TEC. The Anglican Communion Covenant proposed closer ties throughout the world than TEC had between Mark Lawrence’s South Carolina and Michael Curry’s North Carolina. Conversely, liberals gazing at all things through the lens of sex (eg in the Episcopal Cafe and Thinking Anglicans) cannot welcome any continuation of the koinonia story (eg Anglican Communion Covenant) as the missional outcome of a century-long process. Whether that reflects a taste for autonomy that rejects mutual subjection in Christ, or a disavowed yet visceral rejection of southern Anglicans, it comes to the same aversion to global koinonia. A common narrative could not narrow this chasm or make it less deep, but it could hold up a mirror to the two sides that they need to study."

In other words, what some have valued about the Anglican Communion has been that it has never deepened as a communion, it has been a meeting place for otherwise independent churches, but that is all, and (I imagine) the meetings have been pleasant affairs in sometimes exotic places and sometimes - Lambeth and all that - in historically significant places.

But what others have valued about the AC has been that it has been a promise of a deeper, tighter communion - the promise of all Christian communion, that we will be drawn deeper into the communion of the Trinity itself - which has not and now will not be fulfilled in the current form of the AC.

This misunderstanding of what the 'communion' part of the Anglican Communion means, according to Bowman Walton, that we have gotten to where we currently are without a common narrative to explain to all participants why this is so.

He also sees this lack of common narrative about what the Communion is/should become as determining the certain end of the Communion. (In my words) it is broken and it will break up. The break up will be into those churches which wish to be in a deep koinonia, where the koinonia is undergirded by common doctrine, and into those churches which wish to be in a light koinonia, where the koinonia is undergirded by anything and everything apart from doctrine (heritage, historical ties, bonds of affection).

Exactly which churches will be in which koinonia waits to be seen. Some are almost certain to be in one and not the other, but there might be some surprises among the Global South provinces, and Australia might find a way to be in both. NZ might too!

Whether the two (or more?) koinonia agree to relate together in a federation also remains to be seen.

There lies the rub. A significant contribution to the breakdown and thus to the break up Bowman Walton sees as inevitable is the inability of various churches/networks of churches within the Communion to compromise. Compromise is a dirty word in some quarters of Christianity but in the Anglican world it has generally been a way of moving forward, a way of agreeing to disagree while agreeing on what little may be agreed and thus on a new future. That future is always less than the promise each side would like fulfilled, but it is a com-promise, a different promise of a  less than ideal future, but a future together rather than a stand off, let alone a schism.

Could the PM in January lead to as light a compromise as the communions within the current Communion transitioning to a Federation of communions? Will the meeting result in the formalising of the break up which the current breakdown foretokens?

Above I mentioned 'absent a miracle.' The miracle in January 2016 would be that the unwillingness to compromise becomes a willingness to compromise. A super miracle would be the renewal of the Communion as a communion (i.e. all Primates take the eucharist together, all commit to cajoling all their bishops to come to the next Lambeth). A minor miracle would be the retention of some federal relationship between current members of the Communion while acknowledging the existence of different communions within that f/Federation.

POSTSCRIPT: Has the divorce already happened? And are these the reasons why reconciliation is not on the cards soon?