Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Covenant or Bust? Really??

Heavy sigh.

Apparently, Saturday's votes in England are just simply unacceptable to those for whom the Anglican Covenant was "the only way forward."   Bishop Graham Kings, who seems very fond of his metaphor of the Communion being either a "bunch of grapes" or a "bag of marbles", is encouraging the other provinces to continue looking at the Covenant and adopting it, even though England won't be able to bring it up at their next General Synod.

You can read his article HERE.

To set the stage for his pro-Covenant argument, Bishop Kings uses the famous quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's letter from the Birmingham jail:

Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects us all indirectly'

In reading this, I have several reactions.

First, as a lesbian living in the southern United States, I admit to being put off by +Graham Kings using Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s words to set up an argument in favor of something that was drafted to cast out those Churches that have said people like me are accepted and should be fully-included in the life and breath of the Body of Christ.   Dr. King's ethic of inclusion would not have required some man-made Covenant.  Dr. King's letter from the jail in Birmingham was sent to the local clergy of that area (one of whom I know and have talked to him about that letter and how it changed him) to appeal to them as brothers in Christ that it was time for them to take up their crosses and "do the right thing" in a society that was hell bent on oppression.  The clergy in Birmingham were being skittish and begging him not to push too hard, don't come here, etc. etc.  They were operating out of fear; Dr. King was telling them it was time to go forward in faith. +Graham Kings might want to rethink what King's words might mean to those of us in the Communion who have grown weary of the bending in the direction of oppression rather than justice.

+Kings also notes that "nearly 80 percent" of the bishops in the English dioceses voted in favor of the Covenant.  Well, of course more of the bishops voted in favor of the Anglican Covenant.  The document helped to solidify them as THE most important players in the Church!

+Kings lays out the three possible directions the Anglican Communion can go in from here.  One would be to continue moving forward with the Covenant, which he says stresses 'interdependence'.  Another would be to sign on with the Jerusalem Declaration as drafted by the GAFCONites.   And the third would be to adopt the "independent and autonomous" approach of the "radically liberal" stance of the Episcopal Church.  This is the "bunch of grapes vs. bag of marbles" he keeps talking about.   Well, as a so-called marble, I see in his appeal to keep pressing forward with the Anglican Covenant an unwillingness to admit when you're wrong.   In my opinion, we can maintain a Communion without a Covenant if we all remain engaged and willing to keep in conversation with each other.  Is that messy?  Yes.  Is that Anglican?  I believe so.  The problem, as I see it, is that there has been this desire for something cleaned-up, lock-step and tidy which has never existed, and in the age of the internet, can not exist.

Besides, in the game of marbles, we keep knocking into each other.  The trick of this particular game will be to stay within the circle as our opinions and callings of the Spirit collide.  I'm afraid +Kings wants the objective of the game to be knocking the others out of the circle, so only his marble remains.   If we take his grape metaphor, I believe we can all be on the branches together in our own bunches and I think we have been doing that.  But some have felt the need to pluck off many of us and trample us under foot.  And this whole Covenant business has been an attempt to graft a foreign substance onto the vine which will cause it to wither and rot.

Finally, +Kings ends with the quote from Ephesians about growing into the head of Christ.  I am anxiously awaiting the time that we can all agree that the head of the body is Christ, and not a freakin' Covenant!

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