Saturday, February 14, 2009

On Anglicanism today

Finding truly good news stories, amidst the contagious gloom about the economy and frenzied obsession with the Obama presidency, can be a real challenge these days. Finding good coverage about the goings-on in the Anglican Communion is an even greater challenge - if you believe the BBC, notably, our in-house rivalries will drive us to extinction any day.

I was delighted, then, to find this article from the Atlantic, a biography of Rowan Williams that doubles as one of the fairest and - in my opinion - truest perspectives on the Anglican Communion to have crossed my RSS feed. It's a bit long (4 pages), but well worth reading.

Two excerpts that caught my eye:

1) "The Anglican Communion thrives on crisis and decline" - this in light of difficulties both past and present. It's an intriguing statement, and I think it drives home the reality that, while Anglicanism may be declining in numbers, it's hardly declining in spirit. I appreciate this affirmation that our many problems, far from causing our ultimate dissolution, create situations where dialogue and reconciliation can happen.

2) The author writes that the Archbishop "seemed to relish the limitations of his office." While I hear his opponents' complaints about his unwillingness to take decisive action in the Communion's internal struggle for power and authority, I can't help but think that we owe a great deal to his awareness of his limitations. I believe that his quiet, and deeply reflective style of leadership is responsible for the fact that Anglicans of all nationalities and value systems (barring a notable few) are still willing to call themselves by the same name. And I'm glad to see that view of him get some news coverage, for a change.


  1. Agreed, Kristie. Many of the themes of that article have resonated well with my visit to Virginia Theological Seminary (where I'm visiting this weekend as a prospective student, as Kristie knows but others may not). The semi-formal slogan of this place is "Orthodox and Open," which after spending the weekend here I can attest is neither mere marketing nor a contradiction in terms. As the Dean remarked this morning, we have always been a "both...and..." church, not an "either...or..." one. That's not always fun, and it's almost never easy. The key--as this place seems to exemplify--is to never stop listening, praying, thinking, and loving each other.

    On a lighter note, your posting also reminded me of one of my officemates' response to checking out the article (or, rather, its first photo): "Those are some truly extraordinary eyebrows."

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