Blunt voices on the Anglican left

Drop DeadNow this is really interesting and, for a voice on the doctrinal left, very blunt. Blunt is on the rise, at the moment, in the Anglican world.

So check out the Guardian headline on the latest column from Stephen Bates:

Bishops to primate: drop dead

When Rowan Williams meets his flock these days, he seems happy just to get out of the room in one piece.

The primate involved, of course, is the Archbishop of Canterbury -- a man who was considered a solid leader on the Anglican left for years. However, at the moment he is trying to hold his Communion together in a fight over a host of issues in doctrine, sacraments and moral theology. It's hard to read this Bates column as anything other than a declaration of war on Williams for betraying his doctrinal class.

Thus, we read the following about the U.S. Episcopal Church's "drop dead" response to Williams' attempts to maintain peace with Third World conservatives:

... (The) whole statement is a kick in the balls for Dr Williams, who has steadfastly declined to visit the US church while happily receiving regular delegations of conservatives at Lambeth Palace. The American bishops invited him to go and visit them, to hear their views, adding, deliciously, that they would pay for his ticket.

But Williams is in the thrall to the conservatives. He has even appointed the American conservative theologian Ephraim Radner to the body advising on the pastoral scheme, just when Radner has joined a Washington-based organisation, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, dedicated to overthrowing the US church and largely funded by the Ahmansons. These bizarre, multimillionaire Californian Christian reconstructionists believe in publicly stoning gays (and other reprobates) to death.

Will the archbishop go and speak to the Americans, or has he heard enough? He knows that without the US and its the Anglican communion, will struggle to survive financially.

By the way, there appears to be a crucial missing word and a strange comma in that last sentence in the online version of this column: "He knows that without the US and its (??) the Anglican communion (,) will struggle to survive financially." I would assume that the missing word is "money," "endowments" or something to that effect. Has anyone else seen a full text? Can a GetReligion reader on the other side of the Atlantic help us?

Meanwhile, over at the Telegraph, Damian Thompson is singing the same angry aria. Here is the key statement, for those who are trying to anticipate the Archbishop of Canterbury's next move in this global soap opera:

For almost his entire period in office, the treacle-voiced Welsh Primate with the Fu Manchu eyebrows has been bending over backwards to appease people whose views he privately abhors. I thought Rowan Williams was going to be the finest Archbishop of Canterbury for decades. Instead, he has been a disappointment on every level -- even in his own area of expertise, theology.

This is a perfectly valid question. How long will Williams, an articulate man of the left, carry on his attempts at global compromise? Thompson and Bates are voices on the religious left in England, a state-church environment in which church politics is a life-and-death affair. You know that, sooner or later, the action in the Anglican civil war has to move over to Great Britain.

Can the old allies of Williams call him back into the fold? Will he betray the left? Stay tuned.

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