This weekend, I went out of my way to praise a Washington Post story covering the Anglican property and doctrine wars here in the greater Washington area. The discussion of that post rolls on and you can follow that by clicking here. However, let me flip the coin over and briefly note an article that I think does a rather bad job of covering some similar territory. This article by Rebecca Trouson ran in the Los Angeles Times under the headline "Episcopal leader seeks to mend church rift -- In the face of defection threats, the bishop urges members to look beyond divisive issues and focus on helping people in need."
This is a perfect example of a story that covers the Episcopal/Anglican wars only from the perspective of the national church and from those who share its viewpoints. What made the Washington Post story so good was the attention it gave to all four levels of the combat -- local, regional, national and global. In America, the rebels are a small band of traditionalists, defending what they see as the Anglican approach to 2,000 years of Christian doctrines and moral theology. Obviously, the left disagrees with that stance.
As I have said before, if you view the story from the national perspective only, the rebels are small and the U.S. Episcopal Church is big. But, viewed from the global perspective, the liberals are a small -- but very, very rich and powerful -- segment of the global Anglican Communion. Both of these facts, both of these perspectives, need to be included.
So read the Los Angeles Times account and note how far one has to go in the story to discover even the slightest challenge to the stance that the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the mainstream American church, is playing a centrist role as she strives for peace and unity. Is the church in a stalemate?
"I'm not sure it is a stalemate," she said. "I think this church and others may just be becoming clearer about who they are."
And she reminded her audience that small groups of believers had previously left both the Episcopal Church and the global Anglican fellowship, and both entities survived.
Perhaps, Jefferts Schori said, if all sides in the current debate over sexuality and Scripture could "hold their truths more lightly," they might yet find a way forward -- together.
"I believe we only know the fullness of God's truth at the end of time," she said. "And in the meantime, we have to be careful about being so sure that we understand it all."
The whole question, of course, is, "Who is leaving who?" That is a question that will, eventually, have to be answered in England (for better or for worse).
So I ask the same question to readers that I asked after the Post article. Readers on the left and right, what sections of this Los Angeles Times article ticked you off? What changes would you seek or demand?
Meanwhile, Jefferts Schori -- says this report -- will bravely march on, seeking the middle ground, while flying the via media banner of compromise and dialogue:
Reconciliation can come only through engagement, Jefferts Schori said, adding that it pained her that some on both ends of the theological spectrum seemed no longer able, or willing, to discuss their differences. And this in an American church with a long history of tolerance for diversity of all sorts.
"I think the center of the church has heard the message," she said. "But it's more of a struggle for people on the edge of the progressive part and the edge of the more conservative part. Both believe in utter faithfulness that they're right ... and there's less patience that God will work all things out in the end."