I’m sorry, but it’s time to share the “lighthouse parable,” once again.
Why? We are dealing with another very interesting news story that, well, didn’t seem to attract any attention from the mainstream press in North America. The fact that this news story was not considered a news story — except in niche publications on the left and right — is another commentary on religion-news reporting in this digital day and age.
Once again, silence is important. So, once upon a time there was a man who worked in a lighthouse on the foggy Atlantic Ocean.
As the story goes, this lighthouse had a gun that sounded a warning every hour. The keeper tended the beacon and kept enough shells in the gun so it could keep firing. After decades, he could sleep right through the now-routine blasts. Then the inevitable happened. He forgot to load extra shells and, in the dead of night, the gun did not fire.
This rare silence awoke the keeper, who leapt from bed shouting, "What was that sound?"
So what was the Anglican news a few weeks ago in Canada that drew mainstream silence? Here is the double-decker headline at GayStarNews.com:
Canadian gay bishop marries in Toronto cathedral
Marriage of bishop attended by Anglican Archbishop of Toronto
This event was not private, in any way, shape or form. As this story noted, the Diocese of Toronto posted a press notice online.
Clearly, this was a business-as-usual event for Canadian Anglicans, even though — in terms of liturgy and church law — official same-sex marriage rites remain very, very new. Hold that thought.
The bottom line: Many Anglicans around the world — left and right — would consider the same-sex marriage of a bishop, a rite held in a cathedral just after Christmas, to be a newsworthy event.
Was this news? Apparently not. This is interesting, a decade or so after the years in which every move by the openly gay Episcopal Bishop Vicky Gene Robinson drew intense coverage, if not cheers, from mainstream journalists.
Back to the coverage at GayStarNews.com:
Bishop Kevin Robertson has married his partner Mohan Sharma at St James Cathedral in the Canadian city. Bishop Susan Bell of the Diocese of Niagara carried out the ceremony. … The Diocese of Toronto posted a notice congratulating the couple. The missive noted that the pair were married in the presence of their two children, families and friends.
In a sign of shifting attitudes within the church, Colin Johnson, who is the Archbishop of Toronto, also attended the ceremony.
Bishop Kevin and Mohan have been a couple since 2009. Their relationship was blessed in 2016 according to the Pastoral Guidelines of the Diocese of Toronto, but, after this week’s ceremony, are now officially married.
The couple’s union provide a boost to LGBTI Christian keen to see more equality within their religion. However, gay marriage in general continues to be a thorny and controversial issue within the Christian church.
It’s still “controversial”? Is that the same as “newsworthy”?
On the conservative side of the digital aisle, blogger David Virtue noted an interesting fact about this high-profile liturgical rite.
The Diocese of Niagara's Bishop Susan Bell presided, extinguishing any glimmer of hope that Bell would depart from the radically liberal agenda of her predecessor, Michael Bird, writes Canadian blogger, David of Samizdat.
"The Anglican Church of Canada will not officially perform homosexual marriages until the final vote to change the marriage canon takes place at the 2019 general synod. The fact that Robertson has ignored that detail confirms that, whichever way it goes, the 2019 vote will be as far removed from meaning anything as the ACoC is from Christianity," writes David.
An official announcement from the cathedral said this: "The Diocese of Toronto congratulates Bishop Kevin Robertson and Mr. Mohan Sharma, who were married today at St. James Cathedral in the presence of their two children, their families and many friends, including Archbishop Colin Johnson and Bishop Andrew Asbil. We wish them much joy in their marriage."
Wait. So the general synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has not officially approved same-sex marriage in its canon law?
That would appear to be the case. The church has been working out the fine details, following initial approval in 2016. The church law will not change until a second vote of approval this year.
So this very, very, very symbolic rite took place before that second vote. There might be some news there. Maybe?
What is the global angle? Virtue noted, in this conservative analysis piece:
This "marriage" will only confirm in the minds of the Global South and GAFCON primates that the Anglican Church of Canada is willing to tread the same pathway The Episcopal Church is treading regarding sexuality issues. It is another reason why GAFCON bishops will not attend Lambeth 2020, despite calls for reconciliation and "good disagreement" by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
I’ve been watching for mainstream, elite news coverage of the Robertson-Sharma wedding. Did I miss something? Any theories as to why this event was not newsworthy?
FIRST IMAGE: Screen shot from YouTube — taken from the installation service of Bishop Kevin Robertson.