Below I have copied one of the first posts that ever appeared on this blog, back in February 2007. What is surprising is not that this was essentially right but that it all seems so long ago, when the Covenant Process was seen as the way to keep everyone on board.
Who could possibly believe that now?*
6 December 2009
*Update Sunday evening, the answer to this question is the Bishop of Sherborne. Personally, I feel his covenant process of 'glacial gravity' is melting in the global warming of TEC following what it firmly believes is the leading of God the Holy Spirit - and how could it not?
Interestingly, Bishop Graham Kings is finding remarkably little support so far on the Fulcrum blog.
Charlie Brown's football: why the Covenant is an irrelevance
Remember those Peanuts cartoons where Lucy holds the ball for Charlie Brown to kick it? Every time Charlie Brown runs up, Lucy whips it away at the last minute, and every time Charlie Brown finishes up flat on his back.
The joke, of course, is not that Lucy always behaves the same way, but in the fact that Charlie Brown does. Lucy always acts according to character, but against all experience, Charlie Brown always acts as if she won’t.
Welcome, then, to the world of the Anglican Covenant. Doubtless over the next weeks and months there will be much time and energy spent analysing it, wondering if it will do the job for which it is designed, namely to provide a framework of discipline for the Anglican Communion.
In the same way, we might examine Charlie Brown’s football. Is it the regulation size and shape? Is it inflated to the right pressure? Are the stitches secure? And what about Lucy’s grip. Is her finger holding the ball upright? Will she be in the way of Charlie Brown’s kick?
We might examine all these things, and deliver the same verdict as does Charlie Brown himself. It all looks good enough. But it makes not a jot of difference. What matters is that Lucy is going to pull the ball away. How do we know? Because that is what she does.
And so the content of the Anglican Covenant is, to all intents and purposes, an irrelevance. What matters is what will be done with it by the constituent Churches of the Communion. And we already know what that is.
Let us ask ourselves this: was Lambeth Resolution 1.10 clear? Was the Windsor Report sufficiently specific? Was the Dromantine Communique properly worded? The answer to these questions is surely yes, certainly, of course.
And did the Episcopal Church in America heed the call to discipline which they expressed? The answer is that even the generous report presented to the Primates in Tanzania only gave them two out of three on compliance with the Windsor Report. Yet has it been made clear by the Primates that this is not good enough? The answer to these questions is no, and of course not.
Charlie Brown’s problem lies not with the ball but with his own attitude towards Lucy. He refuses to face the fact that she is deceitful and he is gullible. And in the same way, a discussion of the Anglican Covenant per se, without addressing the events that brought the Primates to Tanzania in the first place, will be a refusal to face the institutional dishonesty that runs through the Anglican Church like ‘Brighton’ through a stick of rock.
By all means, let us discuss the Covenant’s first draft. Let us dissect it, tweak it and refine it. It will bolster the spirits of the optimistic. It will keep the bureaucrats happy. It will keep us all at the table talking. And no doubt, what we will see in a few months time is a very fine Covenant.
And while we’re about it, let’s buy Charlie Brown a new football.
Revd John P Richardson
19 February 2007
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