Friday, July 18, 2008

Lambeth - 1

The decennial Lambeth Conference is upon us, and we at the Egg are moved to pity poor old Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.  He is a fine theologian, an apparently decent human being, and the man whom history will remember chiefly for presiding over the death of the Anglican Communion.

Currently, and somewhat comically, Williams is under assault from both the left and the right wings. A gay website has named him "Creep of the Week"for barring Bishop Gene Robinson from Lambeth. Meanwhile, the curiously-named Virtue Online rips into him for not going further, and barring the bishops who ordained.  And when Robinson claims that Anglicanism has not yet -- quite -- experienced a schism, Virtue calls his remarks "unadulterated garbage." (Failing, we may note, to exercise the virtue of charity.)

Meanwhile, Robinson may be locked out of the conference, but his passport has not been revoked, and he is in Britain, with a busy speaking schedule (heckling and threats included).  He is picking up support from public figures like the actor Ian McKellen, and generally going what he can to make his point in the public forum, since he has no opportunity to make it in the ecclesiastical one.

Also banned from Lambeth is Bishop Martyn Minns.  For those who forget, Minns is the pastor of Truro Parish, on whose vestry George Washington once served.   He is also one of the US priests who has been ordained as a missionary bishop by Peter Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria.  In sharp contrast to, say, Washington, Akinola's hatred of fundamental human rights is such that he has supported legislation to deprive gay Nigerians of free speech and assembly. He has also helped to organize the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a group of congregations which have broken away from the Episcopal Church.

It seems to us that barring both Robinson and Minns, while surely meant to permit a less highly-charged atmosphere at the conference, will have the opposite effect.  We think that it would be better to invite both men, lock them in a conference room with plenty of good food (and, being Anglicans, sherry) but no toilet, and tell them they can't come out until they are friends.

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