February 22, 2011
If you have followed any of the politics of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy attempting to establish a European Union within the European Union, you could be forgiven for thinking that they were taking their advice from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The political and economic process in Europe is as cumbersome as any federation of interrelated yet distinctive interests and agenda. Germany and France would like to find ways to ‘consult’ with those 17 countries of the Euro Zone, inviting the other 10 to sign up for a ‘competitiveness pact’ if they want to be part of the decision making conversations. We can be pretty certain that the euro-skeptic British will stay on the outside, preferring not to be governed by Germany and France together, who will be trying to force discipline on their economically less disciplined neighbors to the South as the price of a Euro ‘bailout’.
The sense that ‘we will never get anything done as long as we have to put up with this lot’ is understandable, but is a power play to form a ‘new center’, concentrating power in the historically challenged axis of Germany and France really a good thing for what I supported all those years ago when Edward Heath was touting the European Economic Community?
I can’t help but notice a parallel in Rowan Williams attempt to build a ‘center’ who can ‘govern’ the Anglican Communion as something other than a messy federation for ‘competitive’ reasons. Jim Naughton, a really fine Anglican Journalist and the mind behind the website Episcopal Café has suggested that we are heading toward a situation in which a number of churches sign on to the proposed Covenant, largely out of loyalty to the Archbishop, leaving some Africans and us out of the decision making and on the sidelines, doubtless a more comfortable ‘fellowship’ for those who see themselves as the center.
I think about the period when the reign of the judges gave way to monarchy, with n argument for strength in relation to neighbors (competitiveness or the possibility of ecumenical conversations with Orthodoxy and Rome) over against fidelity (working out difficult stuff in real community in which relationship is not substituted by ‘process’.) I find myself remembering the advice ‘be careful what you pray for’.