Monday, June 23, 2008
The GAFCON 8
You just can't make this stuff up.
The Gaffe-Capades, The Greatest Show on Earth, has arrived in Jerusalem, and the "Cirque du Ironic" is in full swing.
The Lead reported this morning that eight people (pictured above) have been placed on the "No Entry" list at GAFCON.
Ruth Gledhill of The Times London reports:
The eight men and women pictured here are on the official list of those to be denied entry to Gafcon should they try to show up. They are Colorado Bishop Robert O'Neill, Nigerian gay activist Davis MacIyalla being embraced by the Church of England's Rev Colin Coward, Louie Crew, Susan Russell, Scott Gunn and Deborah and Robert Edmunds. (pictured above)
Bishop O'Neill has been asked to serve as the 'eyes and ears' of the US church's Presiding Bishop and is staying with Jerusalem primate, Bishop Suheil Dawani, who never wanted the conference here in the first place. Should these or any other activists attempt to breach the security around the conference at the Renaissance Hotel in west Jerusalem the 1,000-plus delegates have been instructed to start singing the hymn: 'All hail the power of Jesus' name.'
The wicked part of me wants to raise funds to send them all there, and send them in, one by one in continual procession, so the gathered uber-Calvinists and neo-Puritans will have to continually sing 'All hail the power of Jesus' name' and not get a lick of work done.
To be perfectly honest, I am sorely disappointed and totally jealous. In 2003, David Virtue wrote up a "Deck of Cards" (ala Dubya's Deck of Cards 'Hit List' in Iraq). I earned the distinction of being "Seven of Hearts" (Louie Crew was Queen of Hearts, of course.)
My Vestry had a T-shirt made for me with the Seven of Hearts on it, which I wore all over General Convention.
The ironic part is that Gene Robinson, duly elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, has been intentionally dis-invited to Lambeth, but apparently is not barred admission to GAFCON as he did not make the "No Entry" list.
You just can't make up this stuff.
I've been listening and watching the conversation about Covenant and GAFCON as I go about my pastoral duties here in the burbs where the church is still alive and well and far removed from the language of discord, desperation and schism.
Indeed, one of our members died on Saturday morning, a woman who has been battling ovarian cancer for 10.5 years, and we are all in grief when we're not planning for a funeral that will, no doubt, attract more than 500 mourners to the church which seats 300. The logistics boggle the mind.
So, you'll excuse me when I say that GAFCON has been a bit of a diversion in the midst of this, most often providing a sick sort of comic relief - not unlike 'foxhole humor' I suppose.
The GAFCON crowd released a book in advance of their gathering which spoke loudly in the angry, strident tones of schism - "no longer any hope of a unified communion" but then when they gather, they speak in the plaintiff tones of the poor banished children of Eve with "no place else to go."
Meanwhile, the neo-Puritan and uber-Calvin journalists for the schismatics are a veritable reporting whirlwind - pushing out three and four and five reports a day, before anything has really happened, one furiously typing verbatim notes of the press conferences while his wife complains on her blog that he's selfishly hogging the laptop.
It's all humorous in a raw and real human sort of way and simultaneously terribly, terribly sad.
I do have this image, however, given to me by a Nigerian classmate of mine, whose father was a tribal King. My memory is a bit rusty but I believe there are over 350 - perhaps closer to 400 - distinct tribes in Nigeria. He belonged to the Ebu tribe which, when he was about 9 years old, was under attack by the Yoruba tribe and was sent to live with an aunt in America for safety.
The Yoruba, I believe are known for their penchant for the dramatic. They will try to intimidate their enemy with lots of spear rattling and noise long before they attack. When they do attack, it is usually after a long period of yells and yelps and threats, which they hope will come to catch the enemy off guard - just when they have begun to think, "Ah, they'll never attack. They are just making noise."
I think we're seeing a very similar strategy with GAFCON.
This is schism, folks. Make absolutely no mistake.
Oh, Akinola may be waiting and stalling for more "traction" but it has begun. When he says, "We've got no place else to go" he really means, "We've got no place else to turn. We've got to move forward on this schism, but for now, we may have to march in place and make noise."
Meanwhile, life goes on - all over the Anglican Communion - in villages in Nigeria and in the suburbs of New Jersey. The church will continue to administer the sacraments, bring comfort to those who are sick and succor to those who mourn, and shield the joyous, all in the name of Jesus.
Send in the schismatic clowns. Don't bother, they're here.
UPDATE: You can always tell when the neo-Puritan and uber-Calvinist orthodox conservative evangelicals have really blown it when there is absolute radio silence on the topic from the Bullies. There's nothing, nada zip on the GAFCON 8. Even Ruth Gledhill has added her name to the FaceBook "I want to be banned from GAFCON, too!" What's even more amusing is that they really believe they are not conspicuous by their silence. Perhaps they're embarrassed, you ask? Nah! Not a chance! Too much hubris to be embarrassed. Besides, exceptionally high testosterone levels always serve to block a sense of humility or shame.