Archbishop of Canterbury predicts "new alignments"—but do orthodox believers want an alternative, or something wholly new?
Much play is being given to a new article by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the Anglican Communion worldwide. In what's being called his "bleakest assessment yet," Williams wrote in an article for the conservative publication New Directions that he doesn't expect "the next few years to be anything other than messy." Especially notable is this paragraph:
I suspect that those who speak of new alignments and new patterns, of the weakening of territorial jurisdiction and the like, are seeing the situation pretty accurately. But what then becomes the danger to avoid is an entirely modern or post-modern map of church identity in which non-communicating and competing entities simply eradicate the very idea of a 'communion' of churches.
Various British newspapers try to discern his meaning. Says The Telegraph, "He hints that he is prepared to see the creation of a Church-within-a-Church to allow liberals and traditionalists to co-exist. Previously this has been ruled out as too radical."
The Guardian sees the situation as much more dire, titling its article "Archbishop dares to speak its name: the breakup of the Anglican church." The paper complains of Williams' "customary opacity," and says its interpretation is varied:
The journal, published by a group which a decade ago opposed the ordination of women but ultimately did not leave the church, may have been chosen as a means of preaching to would-be splitters. Or, as some at Lambeth believe, it may have just been an opportunity that presented itself to the unworldly archbishop. He is understood not to have consulted staff before writing the article shortly before last month's U.S. decision.
A source close to Williams tries to help The Guardian out. "There has been a lot of loose language on both sides about excommunication, but the article represents a recognition by the archbishop that this is not a bluff and people ought to consider that," the unnamed source said.
But it's The Times of London that provides some important insight (the article isn't available at the Times site for nonpaying American readers. Fortunately, Classical Anglican Net News has posted it):
Dr. Williams' article and his reference to 'new alignments' indicate that the solution for which he might argue when the primates meet in London is a new province that crosses national boundaries that would act as a haven for traditionalists and evangelicals who oppose Western liberal developments such as the election of non-celibate gay bishops. However, most evangelicals are unlikely to support this solution as they do not want to be officially sidelined into a sectarian wing within the wider Church, and would prefer to work on transforming structures from within.
That's right. All this talk of "alternative oversight" and "flying bishops" and whatnot is probably beside the point now. Yes, the liberals had the votes to approve the openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop. But orthodox Christians make up the majority of the Anglican Primates (leaders of the international Anglican provinces, such as the Church of Nigeria, the Episcopal Church USA, etc.). And they'd rather see the Episcopal Church USA declared non-Anglican and start afresh with an orthodox church than to let the Episcopal Church USA's Robinson decision stand and merely set up an alternative church for those opposed to gay bishops and marriages.
"A senior Anglican source in London confirmed [Southern Cone Archbishop Gregory] Venables's assessment that at least 22 of the  primates would demand the breach with America," says The Times. (Archbishop Drexel Gomez, the Primate of the West Indies, only counted 14-20 in an interview with The Telegraph.)
The Times story ends with a harrowing side-note: "The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement is asking David Blunkett, the home secretary, to bar [Archbishop of Nigeria Peter] Akinola from entering Britain in October on the grounds that he might incite hatred of gay people." Um, isn't it Akinola who has more to fear from the visit?
NYT: Many homosexuals don't believe in marriage
Canadian homosexuals haven't rushed to the altar largely because many of them don't believe in marriage, The New York Times reported Sunday. "I'd be for marriage if I thought gay people would challenge and change the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of 'till death do us part' and monogamy forever," said Mitchel Raphael, editor of the Toronto gay magazine Fab. "We should be Oscar Wildes and not like everyone else watching the play."
David Andrew agrees. "Personally, I saw marriage as a dumbing down of gay relationships," he said. "My dread is that soon you will have a complacent bloc of gay and lesbian soccer moms."
At issue, isn't really marriage, it's monogamy. "I can already hear folks saying things like: 'Why are bathhouses needed? Straights don't have them,'" University of Toronto sociologist Rinaldo Walcott wrote in Fab. "Will queers now have to live with the heterosexual forms of guilt associated with something called cheating?"
"First of all, it's not 'something called cheating,' it's cheating, pure and simple." responds National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg. "What such cutely ironic post-modern quips reveal is that many in the gay community don't really mean it when they say they want access to the institution of marriage. … If the activists think marriage can still be something called marriage, after the folks at Fab magazine rewrite all the rules, then they are the ones who just don't get it."
More on the Anglican Church breakup:
- Episcopal vote spurs priests to take stand | 14 area clerics worry about church's mission (The Tennessean, Nashville)
- Church of Uganda cuts relations with U.S. diocese | Gay bishop at center of move (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)
- Diocese money kept in escrow | Some Episcopalians in area were going to cut pledges to church that there likely are people in the diocese who support it (Peoria Journal Star, Ill.)
- Eternally out of date? | The Episcopal Church flirts with schism (Mackubin Thomas Owens and Jonathan Ostman, National Review Online)
- How Wales is leading the Church of England towards a brave new world | Supporters of new alliances of conservative churches within Britain point to the Church in Wales as proof that an independent Anglican church can enjoy distinct but close relations with the Church of England (The Western Mail, Wales)
- Bishops to meet on gay issue | Anglican bishops from southern Africa are to meet in Johannesburg in two weeks to debate the tensions in the worldwide church over gay clergy (SAPA, South Africa)
- Archbishop warns Anglican church faces 'messy' future (Ananova)
- Episcopal priest resigning over gay bishop's election | Congregation leader in Catonsville expects many members to follow (The Baltimore Sun)
- Traditional Anglican parish explored in Hanover | A group of current or former Episcopalians, seeking to distance themselves from their troubled denomination's recent history and action, is planting seeds for a traditionalist Anglican congregation (Herald-Progress, Ashland, Va.)
- Conservatives may expel U.S. Anglicans | Conservative primates believe they have the numbers to compel the Archbishop of Canterbury to declare that churches that condone active homosexuality are no longer Anglican (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
Other churches and sexual ethics:
- African discusses issue of gay clergy | The issue of homosexual clergy must be handled carefully so it does not divide Christian churches in Africa already facing enormous challenges, the new head of the All Africa Conference of Churches said (Associated Press)
- Hellfire rains down as gay clergy debate turns into slanging match | Two church leaders have gone toe to toe—accusing each other of violence, bullying and intimidation—in their dispute over the rights of gay clergy (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Gay move set to split church | Uniting Church members opposed to gay ordination will meet in Sydney to consider forming a new denomination (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
- Former minister vows to return | Stephen Van Kuiken says he followed his conscience on performing same-sex marriages (The Cincinnati Enquirer)
- Church divided, still stands | Contingent breaks away in wake of Presbytery's ruling on gay wedlock (The Cincinnati Enquirer)
More on gay marriage:
- It was a surprisingly quick engagement | Acceptance of gays is now widespread—but same-sex marriage could be the biggest battle (Los Angeles Times)
- Netherlands answer Vatican with gay marriage manual | The guide offers advice on campaigning for same sex-marriages and explains how the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize such unions (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
- Republicans to force issue of gay 'marriage' | Senate Republicans plan to use a hearing this week to force Democrats to take firm positions on same-sex "marriages," a prospect that could prove particularly dicey for some presidential candidates (The Washington Times)
- Anti same-sex coalition plans to target MPs | The coalition has launched a campaign to defend the current definition of marriage and it's urging people to attend prayer vigils outside the offices of all 301 MPs this Sunday (CBC, Canada)
- Chastity begins at home | Despite a sexualized society, some Scots choose to put off sex until marriage (Sunday Herald, Glasgow, Scotland)
- Christian protester issued summons for battery at gay festival | Police said Grant Storms scuffled with a security worker at a French Quarter bar (Associated Press)
- Also: Eye of the storm | The Rev. Grant Storms has grabbed national publicity by denouncing this weekend's Southern Decadence gay-pride festival in the French Quarter. But his career as a preacher has had its own controversy: virulent attacks on Catholicism and a "moral failing" that cost him the pulpit at one of his churches (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
- Domestic partners to get county benefits | The County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to make Durham the first county in the state to provide health insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners of county employees (The Herald Sun, Durham, N.C.)
- Man says he was sexually assaulted by preacher | A man charged in a lawsuit today that he was sexually assaulted by prominent Houston preacher Joe S. Ratliff in a Brentwood Baptist Church office after a service honoring the clergyman last year (Houston Chronicle)
- Man files sexual assault lawsuit against pastor (KPRC, Houston)
- Diocese settles abuse allegations against retired priest for $275K | The allegations by a 15-year-old boy resulted in criminal charges last year against the Rev. Edward R. Graff, who served the Allentown Diocese for 30 years before retiring to Texas in 1992 (The Express-Times, Easton, Pa.)
Politics and law:
- House wrapping up billon faith-based charities | One of the first items on the House agenda this month is a scaled-down version of President Bush's faith-based plan, consisting largely of tax incentives to encourage donations to religious charities (The Washington Times)
- Tolerance questions surround top hire for Department of Children & Families | James H.K. Bruner, former executive director of the Christian-oriented New York Family Policy Council, is the son of an Episcopalian minister, the late Laman H. Bruner (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Religion and mayoralty in a city of diverse faiths | The relationship between mayors of New York City and religion is complicated (The New York Times)
- Bonnke ends crusade, urges Nigerians to back government | Revivalist enjoined Nigerians, especially Christians, to support the present administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo to enable him succeed in his task of governing the country (Daily Times, Nigeria)
- Church leaders to reassess involvement in party talks | Zimbabwe's church leaders yesterday showed signs of fatigue and disillusionment in their efforts to coax the ruling ZANU PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) parties into dialogue, saying they were going to reassess their involvement in the search for a negotiated solution to the country's crisis (The Daily News, Harare, Zimbabwe)
- Art vs. religion: Whose rights will come first? | An art exhibit has led to a debate on freedom of expression and the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church (The New York Times)
- Grand Canyon a praiseworthy natural setting in God debate | The fight for the right to post biblical passages in public places has spread to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, where three plaques quoting verses from the book of Psalms were removed from scenic overlooks (The Washington Times)
- Staying true to God and country | How does your faith view patriotism and following the law of the land? (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Calif.)
- Ventura cross is a legal hot potato | Some say the city's decision to auction the hilltop icon is the best way to handle what has become a fiery conflict over church and state (Los Angeles Times)
- Defying the dependent deity | I do not mean to be either cavalier or sacrilegious, but it occurs to me that the God so often discussed nowadays seems as dependent on the government as a welfare mother (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)
- Churches to clarify—not glorify the EU | The World Council of Churches has called for the European constitution to note the role Christianity and other religions have played in shaping Europe (EU Observer)
- Schröder backs Turkey's EU bid | The EU is not a "Christian club," but rather a "political community of values," says Turkey's PM (Deutsche Welle, Gemany)
Religion and politics in Australia:
- Sorry, Mr Downer, we do need our meddlesome priests | Clerics have had a political voice for more than 3000 years—and long may it continue (Barney Zwartz, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
- Downer comments were a wake-up call | The Church has every right to be heard, but it also has a duty to keep its principles prominent (Jim Wallace, The Sydney Morning Herald)
- The sermon and the soapbox | It's no surprise Alexander Downer copped clerical flak for a speech he gave in Adelaide accusing church leaders of "overtly partisan politicking" (Miranda Devine, The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Pennsylvania school agrees to retain cross-wearing teacher's aide | School district officials already had agreed to drop disputed policy banning wearing of religious emblems (Associated Press)
- Also: Teacher's aide back on the job, permanently (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Catholic dental school built with public funds ends weekly Mass | Attorneys tell Marquette University officials that continuing religious services could lead to church-state entanglement (Associated Press)
- New U.S. Roman Catholic University opens | Ave Maria University will hold classes in a development in North Naples until the school's $220-million permanent campus is completed in the fall of 2006 (Associated Press)
- Sex ed or porn 101? | Indecent lesson plans (Robert Rector, National Review Online)
- Scandal just tip of Baylor iceberg | Beneath the turmoil from the still-unfolding basketball murder saga—which has led to the resignations of the school's basketball coach and athletic director—is internal strife over where the 158-year-old institution is headed (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
- Universities should honestly promote tolerance of views | What if conservative Christians tried to rush a gay-rights group and elect new leaders? (Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service)
- Soundproof chapels are means of avoiding public disturbance | The Head Pastor of the Glory Assembly of God Church at Sakumono, near Accra, Rev. David Madjitey, put this suggestion forward, at the dedication of a new church building over the weekend (The Ghanaian Chronicle, Accra)
- To borrow a phrase, there but for the grace of God … | I would suppose that more than a few sermon writers' palms turned sweaty when these revelations and the word "plagiarism" hit the front page of this newspaper a few weeks ago (Tom Starnes, The Washington Post)
- Hymns on screen? Amen! | Churches sing the praises of hymnals, but some are closing the book on that tradition (USA Today)
- Church plans stir historic Chicago district | Pullman neighborhood upset over complex for 17,000-member congregation (The Washington Post)
- Church turns to web shopping | Church-goers in south Wales have turned to the power of the internet to raise money for vital repairs to their place of worship (BBC)
- Church takes message to streets | Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship moved its Sunday night service outdoors in an effort to reach the community (The Shreveport Times, La.)
- Son follows dad into the church | When people call Grace Bible Baptist Church nowadays and ask to speak with Pastor Mulford, the secretary has to ask which one (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Padlocking of a church brings protest, and prayers | Unbeknownst to almost all of its parishioners, the elaborate sanctuary of St. Thomas the Apostle—an ornate neo-Gothic church built by Irish immigrants at the turn of the last century and completed in 1907—had celebrated its last Mass on Aug. 3 (The New York Times)
- Sunday service goes broadband | About 500 people from around the world logged on to join the 170 churchgoers at St Philip and St James' in Bath (BBC, video)
- Also: 500-strong congregation for virtual church service (Ananova)
- One killed in Wash. church van crash | Another preventable deadly rollover (Associated Press)
Aging and ministry:
- A simple, heartfelt radio ministry | In a culture that often preaches the younger the better, two Charlotte pastors prove you can get better with age (The Charlotte Observer)
- Ross is fired up with the spirit—and not about to slow down | Bobby Ross, 73, has been a fixture, not just at one church but across Charlotte's evangelical Christian community (Ken Garfield, The Charlotte Observer)
- Where the sinners of Broadway spent a little time with the saints | Before he starred in "Nine" and she made her debut in "Chicago," Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith continued a storied tradition by lighting candles at the sanctuary where the Rev. Joseph Kelly, the vicar, celebrates "the longest-running show on Broadway" (The New York Times)
- Christian-rock opera, !Hero, hopes to be this generation's Superstar | Tour plays fall dates (Playbill)
- The church of Johnny Cash | It might say something about me that I am fascinated by Johnny Cash's dedication to his religion, but care very little about my own religious standing (Elizabeth Miller, McSweeney's)
- Luther renaissance on its way? | Luther seems to be popping up everywhere in the United States (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)
- Local producers' 'Hangman's Curse' shoots for family appeal | Namesake Entertainment is walking the fine line between the Christian and the secular with its movie offerings (Thomas Nord, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
- Thunder is still rolling | Former Indians slugger Thornton making impact on people's lives as Christian leader, businessman (The Beacon Journal, Akron, Oh.)
- Discovering God really does work in funny ways | Mark Lowry can get away with telling jokes about Christians because, he said, "I'm not making fun of them, I'm making fun of us." (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)
- Christian comedian challenges believers | Brad Stine, a veteran of the mainstream comedy club circuit, has taken to preaching to the choir (Associated Press)
- Earlier: A time to laugh | Religious comedy spreads messages of faith (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, July 5)
Gibson's The Passion:
- Caution greets Gibson's Jesus film | Mel Gibson is expected to show some major studios a version of his controversial movie about the crucifixion of Jesus by mid-September in the hope of finding a distributor, Hollywood executives said (The New York Times)
- What would Jesus speak? | Many of the critics and scholars who have seen it screened in advance have accused it of both antisemitism and historical ignorance—an ignorance all the more appalling in light of its pretensions to be cinema verité (Forward)
- What to say about Mel Gibson's The Passion | A media coverage roundup (The Guardian, London)
- Area clergy: 'Passion' wrong if it blames Jews for crucifixion | If Mel Gibson's "The Passion" blames Jews for Jesus' death, then it suffers from a lazy, thoughtless reading of the Gospels, Treasure Coast religious leaders say (TCPalm.com)
- New look at Pius XII's views of Nazis | Diplomatic documents recently brought to light by a Jesuit historian indicate that while serving as a Vatican diplomat, the future pope expressed strong antipathy to the Nazi regime in private communication with American officials (The New York Times)
- Heavenly pilgrimage | Catholics and non-Catholics alike find the Vatican art collection in Fort Lauderdale divine (TCPalm.com, Fla.)
- Bishops should be front-line warriors against the loss of belief | Catholic social teaching is invaluable to the West. It must be the church's priority (Angela Shanahan, The Age, Australia)
- A fortified church, at too high a price | Two overseas contacts with connections deep inside the Vatican have confirmed that the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, is almost certain to be made a cardinal soon. But both poured cold water on a rumour that Pell will also replace Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as head of the church's doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Chris McGillion, The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Medicine's new faith connection | Doctors and hospitals are increasingly turning to the power of religion to promote healing and wellness. But the partnership has some observers feeling a little queasy (The Buffalo News, N.Y.)
- Q & A with David Wilkinson: 'Science is exploring what God has done' | The ordained Methodist minister holds a doctorate in theoretical astrophysics and has received a number of scientific honors including the Chalmers Prize for Theoretical Physics and the Reidel Research Prize (The Dallas Morning News)
Other articles of interest:
- The weather is divine | Long Island's beaches and state parks stir the spirits of followers and, sometimes, passers-by (The New York Times)
- Shaker sampler | In New England, discovering the religious sect's simple gifts to American culture (Los Angeles Times)
- Sacred mysteries: The Lindisfarne Gospels | For the monks who made the Lindisfarne Gospels, followers of the spirituality of St Cuthbert, the book of the Gospel was like the Ark of the Covenant in which God was present to the people of Israel (Christopher Howse, The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Africa missionary Donal Lamont dies at 92 | Roman Catholic missionary fought efforts to create an apartheid state in the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia—now Zimbabwe—after it declared its independence from Britain in 1965 (The New York Times)
- The advent of Christian feminism | Zealots who patrol the ideological walls of established feminism will not welcome the new arrivals at their gate (Wendy McElroy, Fox News)
- Minister, family flee war-torn Liberia | The Rev. Danny Buegar hopes peace paves way for return home (The Times, northwest Indiana)
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