Bishop Alan Wilson – on the Covenant – ‘Boot and Reboot’

Boot and Reboot?

The boot goes into the Anglican Covenant. Time to reboot?We could try to defibrillate the whole thing hoping that somehow this process that has just split the Church of England down the middle will somehow transmute into a great Focus of Unity. That way madness lies — stupidity that repeats the same mistake over again, hoping for a different result. Another very English option is to pretend nothing really happened, sit on our hands going “ho-hum” whilst, as Covenant supporters sometimes prognosticated, the sky falls in, or not.

ouldn’t it be healthier to acknowledge reality? Take this as an invitation to look at the painful image in the mirror. Bishops were largely out of touch. In spite of, nay, because of our infantilised “Daddy knows best” culture, Daddy got it wrong. The troops did not buy a well-intentioned attempt to lick us into denominational shape. Much heavy covenant sell failed to persuade. It did not explain why or how bureaucratic accountability would improve on a free relationship of equals. Always start with “why?”

There were flaws way back down the line in signing up for the whole culture war that started this. Perhaps the real mistake was colluding in the first place with the foolish erection of homosexuality, hitherto a subsidiary ethical question, into a massive make or break worldwide custard pie fight. The dogs of war this unleashed did not want to be refereed by anyone.

Once upon a time, a bishop so loved chocolate he convinced himself that if he fed his chickens coco pops they would lay Easter eggs. People queried his pet scheme, only to be told “it’s the only show in town.” Questioned further, His Lordship said “but I thought you liked chocolate.” Backed into a corner, he accused his questioners of cruelty to animals.

n the cold light of day, much argumentation for the Covenant really was similarly barmy. I still don’t know whether I’m a bunch of grapes or a billiard ball. Neither do I care. Nothing in it would have made the slightest bit of difference to potential refuseniks on either side of any question that really mattered to them. The tone and content of Archbishop Okoh’s reaction to Rowan’s retirement makes this abundantly plain, as well as conveying the sheer crappiness of all he’s gone through these past ten years. The letter explains why people thought something had to be done, but also why this could never have worked.

All we are left with, as a diverse family of churches, is to talk with people directly rather than about them. This could be a great opportunity to think through the implications. The Anglican communion works wonderfully well as a network of people, but makes a lousy vatican-on-sea. If top-down doesn’t work, what does? It may be time to take stock, some would say grow up. But how?

Watch this space…

Blogger Alan Wilson, Anglican Bishop of Buckingham, can be relied upon for sparkling commentary on Anglican Affairs – especially in the Church of England –  in which he is a very active servant of the Gospel of Inclusion.  Bishop Alan may well not become the next Archbishop of Canterbury, but he does have a certain eye out for what ought to be at the core of the Church’s mission – as against those matters of gender and sexuality that seem to be consuming most of the energy and missionary fervour of conservative clerics.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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