I have been staying up late several nights this week finishing the proofs of my new book about the Anglican Communion. It is a book that argues that not only is unity in a world communion possible, it is a vital part of that communion’s witness to the world.
Then I woke up this morning to read that Andrew Brown (“England’s most sanctimonious atheist,” in the words of one Church Times letter to the editor) thinks the Anglican Communion is dead.
Wow. Poor timing on my behalf.
But then I started reading the article and wondered just what grounds Brown had for making his case.
We might notice that his article commits more or less all the errors I outlined in a previous post about writing about the Anglican Communion—he doesn’t travel anywhere, he relies mostly on bishops and men as sources, etc., etc.
He writes, for instance of the Church of Nigeria, that it doesn’t matter how “many Anglicans there are there and however sincerely they seem to hate gay people.” I read that and I think, “Has he ever actually been to Nigeria? Are we talking about the same church?” Were people who write about the Anglican Communion to start moving from behind their computers and instead spend their time and money visiting with Anglicans, I think the story they would find is different. Instead, everyone sits comfortably in their prejudices and certainties and shows little desire to change that situation.
On the other hand, perhaps the Anglican Communion is dead. Perhaps the days when our understanding of the Communion was constituted almost solely by what bishops and other men had to say are coming to an end. Perhaps we can now start listening to the voices of the young, the female, the non-ordained and see that they are hardly in lockstep agreement with what their bishops have to say.
The core of my faith is the belief that death is not the end. Maybe we can pray that the death of our current forms of relationship will lead to a resurrection in newness and fullness of life.
But it’s going to take a willingness to move beyond the same old ways of doing business.