Canon Graham King: “The Edge”

Centrists / General Convention

Graham King in an essay on the website “Fulcrum” and “Covenant-Communion” has posted a meditation that tries to put the controversy of today into the larger historical context of Anglicanism:

“‘Edge’ has several meanings, literal and figurative. These include, ‘sharpened side of blade’, ‘brink of a precipice’, ‘critical position or moment’ and ‘boundary line’. When people are ‘on edge’ they are ‘excitable or irritable’. The verb, ‘to edge’, means ‘to furnish with a border’ and finally there is (the very Anglican verb?) ‘to edge forward’.

Many of these meanings seem to coalesce in the meeting of the Archbishop of Canterbury with the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in New Orleans, 20-22 September 2007. Afterwards, the Bishops’ meeting will continue until the 25 September. This is just before the 30 September deadline, which was given by the Primates of the Anglican Communion for a response to their communiqué from Dar es Salaam in February this year. Perhaps it is worth drawing on three theologians of the Anglican tradition to seek a wider context for these events?”

Read the rest: The Edge: The Episcopal Church, September 200 | Covenant

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. I have to say, I stopped reading this website after the repeated claims that gay and lesbian concerns with regard to our faithful relationships were about a “sexual liberation agenda”.
    O’Donovan’s work while interesting has itself been criticized for abstracting in its own right, and no more so, than with regard to gay and lesbian persons.
    The site is centrist and reveals to my mind that centrists are not fair or objective with relation to gay and lesbian faithful Christians, something I’ve long recognized was the case. Centrists have taken a side, which I’d long suspected, and this mouse, to quote Tutu, doesn’t appreciate the elephant on my tail.
    Were I a gay person in a parish served by a pastor who was a member of this site, I would be wary of remaining in such a parish, as it’s clear we’re made out to be the problem by those writing for this site.

  2. Covenant isn’t simply centrist. The contributors look like they’re mostly or all communion conservatives, and their conservatism certainly colors their thinking. You might like the other half of the centrists (the communion liberals) much better.

  3. Jon,
    I doubt it. In both cases pushing through a covenant that really is at the expense of gay faithful isn’t something I’ll go along with. I’ve pointed out before to those who would claim themselves more liberal words and phrases they use that are offensive to gay persons to no avail. We might call this communion heterosexism, the subtle, genteel, kind so deeply rooted in Anglicanism and the Church as a whole that it cannot see itself and isn’t really open to review.
    I note the article Andrew Sullivan put up about racism on September 19, 2007 pointing to a study on subtle racism. That’s how centrists tend to come across for me, the more subtle, genteel heterosexism:
    As reported in the September issue of Psychological Science, black volunteers who had witnessed unfair but ambiguous hiring decisions did much less well on the Stroop test, suggesting that they were using all their mental resources to make sense of the unfairness. Interestingly, white volunteers were more impaired by overt racism than by the more ambiguous discrimination.
    Salvatore and Shelton figure this is because whites rarely experience any racism; they do not even notice the subtle forms of racism, and are thrown off balance when they are hit over the head by overt acts. Many blacks, by contrast, have developed coping strategies for the most hateful kinds of racism; it’s the constant, vague, just-below-the-surface acts of racism that impair performance, day in and day out.
    Sullivan added: That makes sense to me. I have no problem with overt, blatant homophobia. I can laugh at it. It’s the kind you can feel but not see explicitly that gets under your skin.
    And Fr. Knisely, I was referring to anyone associated with that site. It’s positively unbalanced and even nasty in the way people like myself are talked about, all in very “objective”, theological language, of course. That doesn’t mean particular individuals may agree with everything contributed, but again, the penchant among centrists to uphold the subtle, genteel sort of heterosexism, what we might call communion heterosexism, to keep us all together at the expense of treating us and speaking of us and our relationships with any sort of dignity is something I’ve long noted and pointed out to you before. The obvious stuff like calling us pigs and dogs, is easy to spot and fortify against. It’s the subtle, genteel communion heterosexism that’s more difficult to strengthen against because the Communion is positively filled with it, and from here it looks like keeping everything in place is what this covenant business is all about. Others, like Archbishop Morgan, are beginning to notice this as well, thank God.
    I would not go to a priest listed on that site for spiritual counsel, and especially not with regard to anything having to do with my life with my committed partnership,, but given we cannot separate out the work of God in that part of my life from the rest of it all, I doubt I would go to such a priest at all. I wouldn’t want such a priest to be in charge of my funeral because he might treat my partner badly and I certainly wouldn’t go to him regarding celebration of our commitment or anniversary or adoption of a child, etc. So basically, not for any reason at all.

  4. Christopher, the only response I can give to you is to invite you to come and visit us sometime. The members of our congregation’s Integrity Circle would be happy to meet you.

  5. That may be so, but the fact that Covenant Centrism reads as if we’re expendable and that we’re the problem might lead me to worship with your Circle but not seek spiritual anything from you having associated yourself with a site that speaks of our faithful lives as a “sexual liberation agenda” and worse. The fact that we need a special circle to be a full part of itself speaks volumes. My latest post commented upon by gay persons from moderate to progressive illustrates precisely the reality of how much communion heterosexism affects us. The Postulant’s is also a good reminder to all of those liberals both Centrist and not. But of course, the kind of listening that requires means perhaps acknowledging that all of you expressing your bona fides of love and care for gay and lesbian brothers and sisters might have a way to go.

  6. The truth is, Fr. Knisely, that I have had a lot of respect for you, and had thought that your moderate ways were a unique non-anxious voice and that you truly cared about lgbt Christians and wanted to make space that others might come to care for us as you do, and that you felt find ways were needed to arbitrate disputes that were not punitive, blaming, or centralized to the exclusion of other orders and/or lgbt faithful. In that respect I had placed you more in line with Derek at haligweorc. Give it time, give it space, in the meantime we’re going to treat you as you will one day be treated by the Communion as a whole.
    That is not Centrism. It’s moderation.
    And though I might have disagreed with specifics or particulars, might have challenged, but I knew there was breathable space here. Centrism is not breathable space for lgbt Christians no matter professions of bona fides to us. The Covenant site gives the lie to all of those good faith protestations. Centrism, now Covenant Centrism, to my mind raises greater distrust for covenants and centralized authorities than do the out front words of so-called reasserters because all the more subtle in institutionalizing my second-class status in this Communion always of course with words of reassurance and expressions of concern. I wrote on Centrism here:
    So I’m disappointed that you have signed up so tightly with Centrism. Centrism is not the same thing as moderation. Moderation tends to eschew ideologies or get overly obsessed with agendas. It may have weaknesses, but moderation isn’t a party, Covenant Centrism is a party, and a side.
    But Centrism is ideological in its own right, and often draws upon a dismissal of the Modern (whatever that means) in whole fashion without examination, and has a specific agenda that is want to press and push just like those whom Centrists castigate. It is quite political despite it’s proponents’ protestations otherwise. It’s something I’ve long noticed and the more liberal among you are none to happy when I’ve pointed out your own politicking.
    Fr. Bryan wrote at Derek’s place:
    As a Creedal Christian and an Anglican Centrist, I long for a Muscular Middle that not only learns from and is challenged by both liberals and conservatives, but also pushes back and says “No!” when the comprehensive character of Anglicanism gets hijacked to partisan agendas.

  7. Christopher, I do freely and without hesitation confess that I have blind spots and that these do color my dealings with other people, be they people of different sexual orientation, people of color, woman etc.
    To your second point, could you might grant me that I’m using the word centrism in a way that is different than you are? I’m using it differently I think than Bryan is as well apparently. I’m of the opinion that what Anglican “centrism” is going to look like is not yet defined. And I’m willing to stay as connected with as many people as I can whist the process is ongoing. Because I’m interested in maintaining the broadest base of communion as possible – and if a covenant can accomplish that then I’m for one. But like the Archbishop of Wales, I’m not comfortable with the present form and would not be able to vote for it. And I think like the Church of Wales, I’d like to be involved in the process of creating one that I might be comfortable with – and if God is good, I’d like people like yourself to stay involved as well.
    I’ve been reading your posts and critiques of centrists and/or moderates and have been pondering them in my heart. Your points are well taken and if I had a ready comeback I would have given one.
    You mentioned in an earlier post that “moderates” or “centrists” needed to be honest that they are a party with an agenda just as the “progressives” and the “orthodox” are. I do not dispute that. I came to recognize that attending a workshop of reconciliation organized by Claiming the Blessing prior to the 2003 General Convention. And I think we who are somewhere in the middle need to work to see if there is or should be a common agenda amongst us. What folks are witnessing is the attempt to do that – at least that’s how I see it.
    For what it’s worth, the fact that I was invited to sit at the same table as the other authors on the communion/covenant site has brought them much greater condemnation from their peers than I have received from mine.

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