Reflections on the Lambeth Reflections

August 4th, 2008 Posted in News |

From the Ugley Vicar blog:

Is there somewhere on earth where the Sunday afternoons are so interminably long and wet that one’s life would be more enhanced by reading in detail the Reflections on the Lambeth Conference 2008 than by, say, watching another re-run of The Great Escape or attempting again a Sudoku puzzle you messed up earlier? Perhaps there is, but for most of us life is too short for me to recommend the exercise (in fact I would much rather you read my own reflections on What on earth is God doing? than even these comments).

We need to remind ourselves what the Lambeth Conference was convened to achieve. The answer is, nothing. Remember, with the exception of the very first (and with interruptions for world wars), Lambeth Conferences have occurred decennially. They are held because it is time to hold one, not (essentially) because there is something that needs to be done which only a gathering of Anglican bishops from all the corners of the globe can achieve.

Thus, despite the acknowledgement within the Reflections document itself that the Anglican Communion is in ‘crisis’, it was possible to organize this conference with the express intention of avoiding confronting the issue. Behind the scenes, of course, the intention was that by avoiding confrontation, a resolution of sorts could be approached, since keeping everyone together would further establish the status quo as de facto policy.

Publicly, the means to this end was a bastardized African import — the so-called indaba groups. These, one suspects, as much resembled the real thing as village-hall yoga does the Indian mystic tradition. Historically, an indaba is a meeting of Africans, not Anglican bishops, and brings with it the assumptions of African, not Western Liberal, culture — one of which is not ‘constantly avoiding confronting the issue’ (thus, from an old ANC Daily Briefing on the internet: “Sport and Recreation Minister Ngconde Balfour has called a one-day indaba to thrash out the problems plaguing professional boxing in South Africa.”) The organizers of the Lambeth Conference adopted the term indaba because it sounded good. But they used it for their own ends.

And now a Conference called for no particular reason, holding meetings designed to reach no particular conclusions, has produced not a report but a series of reflections. Read them, if you will. (Article continues here.)

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