October 1, 2008
I was particularly struck by the sense that both our bishops reported following Lambeth that of all the world’s bishops it is the English (not the Scots, Irish and Welsh) who really don’t understand something important. It is hard to nail down exactly what that is, but it accords with what I experience when I am in England. It is captured by a question that someone asked a few years ago: “When is the Church of England gong to join the Anglican Communion?” They shared stories of bishops who seemed to think that double standards were a necessary part of gong along to get along and for whom observing the proper form keeps everyone happy and then letting the clergy do what they need to with the understanding that their bishop won’t support them if they are ‘discovered’ misbehaving or whatever.
I have had the impression that England is happy to focus on America (fanning the flames of anti-Americanism along the way) hoping against hope that they won’t have to deal with rifts in their own church that are as deep, if not deeper, that in the US, Canada and elsewhere. The Episcopal Church seems to be happier since our bishops (even those who are no fans of the consecration of Gene Robinson) have started to define themselves and have, with sadness but with clarity, allowed those who need to leave to leave and those who want to stay and be destructive to get deposed. The legal and punitive responses probably don’t amount to much in the great scheme of things as such, but they serve to reveal a continuing sense of identity among our bishops which I appreciate.