Notes from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presentation at General Convention

General Convention

These are my "unedited notes" from the session. Sorry about any typos – it's late and I'm on the run. Not a whole lot of time to proofread…

Opening remarks by Bp. Greg Rickel – introducing guests, etc.

Whole presentation will be on demand rebroadcast later tonight.

Our calling as Christians require us to see Global Poverty as our problem. The Presiding Bishop was referring to this when she talked about the crisis of the present day in her remarks yesterday. Rickel is challenging us to not turn inward in this moment but rather to do the unexpected thing of claiming our place as global citizens.

The Presiding Bishop's remarks:

"We are all interconnected."
  • Scientists and engineers are telling us this again and again in increasingly strident language.
  • Our consumption patterns in the US change the economies and climates of cultures on the other side of the world, whether we know it or not.
  • We are still taking our ease in Bashan sadly.
  • Our willingness to respond to the hope offered in the Kingdom of God is the challenge before us.

The Archbishop Canterbury's remarks:

Will speak on the central spiritual challenges of our present situation.

  • Taking a leaf from Pope Benedict's recent encyclical: Truth needs to be sought found and expressed in the light of charity. Charity however needs to be expressed in the light of truth and love.
  • We have suddenly discovered that we have been lying to ourselves.
  • We have lied in three ways
    • 1. We have allowed there to be a break down in truth-telling in finance and governance and trust in our financial life. Our word has not been our bound. We have learned to tolerate high levels of anti-relational practices.
    • 2. We have lied to ourselves about the possibliity of limitless growth in a limited world. We have lied about the possibility of profit without risk.
    • 3. We have lied about the nature of our relationships between other human beings. We have thought that a single person's profit can be achieved without expense by others.
  • Our task is not to find a new "normal". There is no normal anymore. We are moving into the Unknown.
  • Our response must be to commit to live in the Truth.
    • Trust happens when you learn to know the quality of the person you are dealing with.
    • We must learn to show respect for the limited world in which we live.
    • We must not live as a disembodied economic will, but instead as an embodied part of creation.
    • We must learn to know who carries the greatest part of the risk that must be a necessary part of profit.
  • What is good for human beings is not necessarily what is good for individuals.
  • What can be done doesn't have to be done – because there are other goods to be considered…
  • The exaction in the abstract of what the market seems to demand is never a very satisfactory basis for our common life.
  • These three points emerged in an inter-faith dialogue in England a few months ago.
  • The Common Good: We are made so that what is given to us, is meant to given in turn to another.
  • This is what it means to be the Body of Christ in the World.
  • There is an unbreakable connection between the presence of God in our lives with what we do in our relationships with other.
  • Five ideas in response
    • We must move away from a model of economics that is about making money to one that engenders trust. We will have to redefine what we mean by wealth. Well being meaning not what we have in the bank.
    • We include an environmental cost in any economic calculation we make. "The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment." 
    • We must no longer undermine democratic government and the role of business internationally. We must no longer allow business concerns to destabilize a small economy.
    • We must think about our existing financial institutions. How are they to be reconcieved as monitors, agents of growth and playing field levelers that protect the smallest and weakest nations.
    • What does the real economy have to be equipped to do? What do we really need to produce? What should we put in place with these stimulus packages?
  • Skepticism in politics is a good thing. Cynicism is a bad thing, because it assumes that all answers we are given are untruthful. This can be achieved by the recreation of small civil institutions and micro-economic settings. Things like Habitat for Humanity are critical to our next decades. The Churches are astonishingly well placed to be able to do this.
  • The business communities must learn to factor in the needs of the local communities in which they are placed. When the employees are encouraged to build relationships with their local community morale rises across the board. The Churches are uniquely equipped to teach this because of what we believe about the nature of human beings.
  • We believe that human beings are made in the image of God… This is not a static thing. It is in the dynamic processes we see this most clearly. Growing into relationality is what human beings are actually for…

Bonnie Anderson: Thanks for coming. The issues are the heart of God's call to us.

Presentations by three young leaders of the Episcopal Church working in MDG areas followed.

The Author

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

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