Let me jump in here after Doug's post with a quick sequel on a related issue of Anglicans in the media. By the way, you can click here for a recent LeBlancian CT article on TEC news. I love question-and-answer features and I hope, in the explosion of online journalism, that mainstream newsrooms do more of them. I hope that readers will, from time to time, be able to go online to read transcripts of major interviews that form the backbone of major reports in print or video. As I keep saying, you cannot give readers too much information if it is linked to a story that they care deeply about.
Thus, I read with interest a Los Angeles Times feature the other day by Stephen Clark that ran under the headline "Anglican/Episcopal Rift Prompts Restructuring Talk."
The opening was rather low-key:
Tensions continue to simmer between the worldwide Anglican Communion and its American wing, the Episcopal Church, over the church's embrace of gay clergy and other policies that critics view as overly liberal.
The tensions, already brewing in recent years, began to rise again in June when the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori became the first woman elected to preside over the entire Episcopal Church, offending some conservatives who do not approve of women as priests or bishops. The head of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has since proposed restructuring the organization to prevent a complete break between the U.S. church and the rest of the communion.
At this point, Clark begins a series of logical questions, paired with often debatable answers (as answers often are in heated doctrinal disputes). After I read the first answer, I quickly said, "What a minute! Who is he interviewing? Whose point of view am I reading?"
Here is the start of that first piece of the Q&A:
Question: Why is the consecration of gay or female bishops a major issue?
Answer: Some conservatives believe Christian orthodoxy prohibits such practices. The issue has deeply divided the communion, the world's third-largest body of churches, ever since V. Gene Robinson was elected bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire in 2003. Jefferts Schori supported his election.
Now this is a strange answer on several levels.
First of all, as best as I can tell, Clark is interviewing himself. Please, go read the feature for yourself. Am I missing something? For me, the logical approach here would have been to have interviewed two people, one each from the two warring camps -- Anglican vs. Episcopalian, so to speak. But even there, you really need -- in the California context, especially -- to be familiar with three different brands of conservatism, especially on the issue of ordaining women. An Anglo-Catholic is not a charismatic and neither is a low-church Reformed Evangelical, in this case.
But note that sentence, "Some conservatives believe Christian orthodoxy prohibits such practices."
"Such practices" is plural. Now, this implies that some conservatives are divided on the topic of gay bishops or the even more important topic of same-sex rites for the Sacrament of Marriage. Is this true? Are there conservative Anglicans out there who have swung to the left on those issues?
Clark has combined (sorry to keep using this image all the time) doctrinal apples and oranges, putting the gay ordination issue next to the question of ordaining women. Then in the very next sentence he says, "The issue has deeply divided the communion, the world's third-largest body of churches, ever since V. Gene Robinson was elected bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire in 2003." Note, "the issue" is singular -- clearly referring to the Robinson consecration.
Truth be told, there are Anglican conservatives, especially charismatics, who have no problem with ordaining women. There are conservative Anglicans -- especially in the Third World -- who continue to oppose the ordination of women.
Anglicans on the traditional side of the aisle often disagree on that issue. But they are united in opposing the ordination of women whose basic approach to creedal and moral issues is clearly liberal or even postmodern, as would be the case with Jefferts Schori. It appears that some conservatives even voted for her in the presiding bishop race, simply to bring clarity to the war. They wanted to deal with an open, honest liberal.
But where are Clark's Anglican conservatives who believe that sex outside of marriage is not a sin? Where are the conservatives who are divided on the issue of same-sex unions and the ordination of sexually active lesbians, gays and bisexuals to holy orders? Can he name some names?
In the rest of the Q&A, Clark does quote some Episcopal and Anglican leaders, which helps readers understand the source of some of this information. But this Clark-interviews-Clark format left me very uncomfortable -- especially since the first answer is a mess.