Kendall Harmon has written a post in which he tries to clearly explain what is being asked of the Episcopal Church by the Primate’s meeting. At the end of his post – most of which covers material that I’ve already posted or noted here – he speaks for himself and addresses a couple of points directly to Jim Naughton:
“IF Lambeth 1998 resolution 1.10 is the standard for Anglicans, it leaves a whole lot of questions unresolved. I realize that. But as I have said again and again the key call to the Episcopal Church is to stop doing what we have been doing so as to create the space necessary for real reconciliation. Questions about other implications are for the future, and without the cessation the Primates call for there can be no joint future between TEC and the Anglican Communion.
I want further to make a plea specifically to Jim Naughton, since I feel I can talk to Jim and try to be heard (alas an increasing rarity in the deteriorating climate in the Episcopal Church at present).
First, I want to ask whether you realize how ethnocentric your reading of the communique is. It sounds like it comes from the country where apostolic leaders act like lawyers. Are we not called as Anglicans to ask what others would think? Do you really believe that your reading of the Communique is the way an African or Southeast Asian Primate would intend it? Is there even a way to write the communique as you think it should be read that would make sense in the language of most of the other parts of the world?
Second, I want to plead with you to consider that the Anglican Communion is not something to be trifled with as if it were some kind of a game, as if it all came down to what the meaing of the word is is. Should not the thing to do in this instance be to bend over backwards to give the most globally Anglican interpretation of the document? It is not a small thing that the third largest Christian family in the world may break up. I pray it does not. And I especially pray if it does break up it will not be because we tried to find loopholes but instead that we tried as hard as we could to be honest with one another and heard what others were saying to us in their terms.”
I find myself sympathizing with Canon Harmon’s request. Perhaps it’s time for us to be clear with each other about what we can do and what we do not believe we can do. It’s been our fear of dealing directly with conflict and confrontation that has encouraged people to say things so loaded with nuance that we end up wondering just what is meant by them.
On the other hand it’s my understanding that personal nuance has always been allowed when we approach the liturgical words in Book of Common Prayer – and is explicitly what the Elizabethan settlement is all about. I’ve often explained to parishioners that the reason we don’t edit the words of the liturgy so that they suit us better is that these are words carefully chosen by a balanced committee. We are allowed to understand them in our own mind how we want to, but we need to respect the delicate balance between positions that they represent.
The words in the liturgy are a balance between positions that it is believed that Christians can responsibly hold.
So then, by extension, is the crucial difference here that we in the Episcopal Church are being told a belief which holds Same Sex Blessings (SSB’s) are allowable in the Church is not a reasonable Christian position?