Friday, September 28, 2007

Dancing Around the Center

As the initial flurry of responses and analysis of the statement from the House of Bishops has begun, I've attempted to keep up with some of the discussions that have ensued. As I remarked earlier, folks on both the conservative and liberal ends of the spectrum are unhappy with the statement. It is difficult to find a moderate take on the statement, but I happened to run across an article in the Church Times (London) that pretty much summarizes my opinion on the whole thing. Most especially, this observation:
By making this concessionary statement, allying themselves to the Windsor process, and inviting further debate, the Episcopalian Bishops have placed themselves firmly in the Anglican mainstream, however others prefer to define that word. There is nothing to stop the US conservatives’ continuing to combine with provinces in the Global South, but such moves will take them away from the centre.
I think that the author has it exactly right: the House of Bishops said what they could reasonably say, given the constraints of polity and power under which they operate. They served notice that they expect other provinces to actually engage in the "listening process" called for in Lambeth 1.10 (acknowledging how difficult that process might be in certain cultures), and staking out a middle ground that isolates the more conservative folks (who left early anyway) as they seek to cast an image of the Episcopal Church as radically liberal. I hope and pray that most provinces aren't buying it.

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