Two seemingly unrelated but significantly reflective news stories have lead me on a circuitous route to other related stories and ended up in an insight about a universal truth.
The above picture was snapped by Colin Coward, CofE priest and director of Changing Attitude in UK. Colin is in Jamaica following the developments of the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Oh, should I mention he's gay? He is. Quite openly so. Which is what got him in trouble for taking this photo.
Did I say 'trouble'? Actually, it got him bullied. Here are his words:
"Following the 8.30 press briefing, at which Canon Chris Sugden from Anglican Mainstream was not present. After the meeting I wandered downstairs to the swimming pool. Across the breakfast room I saw Canon Sugden with the Bishop Nwosu, Dr Okorie and Stanley Isaacs from South East Asia (the latter three ACC delegates. Also with them were Philip Asher and Julian Dobbs. I thought the group was worth a photograph because Canon Sugden had engaged in conversations similar to this at the Primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam.
Having taken the photograph, I returned to the press room. Bishop Nwosu and Dr Okorie suddenly burst into the room and immediately challenged me. The bishop demanded that I gave him my camera. I had no right to take his photograph without his permission, he said. Calmly, I said no, I am not giving you my camera. He was seething with anger, looming over me, jabbing his finger at me. He was intimidating and very frightening. I understood how Nigerian bishops can so successfully and easily intimidate their own people.
I asked him whether this was the way a bishop should speak to another priest in the Anglican Communion. He continued with his demands that I give him my camera. I asked him if he was angry because I am a gay man. Yes, he said.
For one last time, he asked me, more appropriately, let me have that camera please. I responded firmly and calmly, no (though I felt anything but calm inside). You will see the consequences, he said as he finally gave up and left the room."
My, my, my!
I am reminded of the time during Lambeth 1998 when Richard Kirker, then Director of LGCM UK (Lesbian Gay Christian Movement), was assaulted by Nigerian Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma who tried to exorcise him.
Yes, way. I was there and saw it all happen with my very eyes. You can listen to a recording of it on Louie Crew's website. here.
So, we know that Nigerian Bishops believe that LGBT people are 'satanic', but what would rile this bishop about that photo in the context of the ACC meeting?
Colin raises some interesting questions:
Why was he so angry at having his picture taken in that context. What does he have to hide? Well, I can guess, and normally, the conservative strategy is to hire rooms in an adjoining hotel and hold meetings away from the public gaze.
I suspect the bishop's anger had a little something to do with this: Defeat for Archbishop as Covenant Draft is rejected.
Religious Intelligence (the blog of ultra conservative priest, George Conger) is reporting that:
"The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) will not endorse the Anglican Covenant, and has voted to send it back to committee for further review. The vote comes as a major defeat for the Archbishop of Canterbury who had championed the covenant as the one way to keep the Anglican Communion from splitting. However the defeat was self-inflicted, as Dr Rowan Williams’ ambiguous intervention in the closing moments of the debate led to the loss."
There follow some very interesting observations by Bishop Nwosu and Archdeacon Okorie. You know. Two of the blokes pictured in the 'huddle' above.
Delegates from the Church of Nigeria stated they were perplexed by Dr Williams’ actions. “All of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s contributions were positive” up until the last moment of the meeting, Bishop Ikechi Nwosu of Nigeria said.
Nigerian Archdeacon Abraham Okorie said there was a “satanic” spirit of confusion in the air. He noted it was hypocritical of the ACC to make a great noise of using African ways of decision making in addressing the covenant, but then resorting to slippery parliamentary tricks to thwart the will of the meeting.
Dr Williams was a “very weak leader,” Bishop Ikechi Nwosu of Nigeria observed. “Of course we pray for him, but couldn’t he be courageous for once?”
Did you catch that? Okorie said there was a "Satanic spirit of confusion in the air".
Uuu-huh. Verrryyy interesting. (says Arte Johnson as the little German solider whilst dragging on a cigarette and hiding behind the bushes on that old TV show 'Laugh In')
There are some other interesting conservative analysis of "WTF" happened in Jamaica, including this one.
Over at Episcopal Cafe the headline reads "Confusion reigns as ACC delays Covenant release."
Apparently, one person's 'confusion' is another person's 'satanic spirit'. Which probably translates as "it's all the fault of LGBT people".
The Pluralist, Adrian Worsfold, comes to our rescue with "How it was done." I was still confused by the end of it, but it was fascinating reading.
Canon Chris Smudgeon (the big white bloke in the picture above) wrote an interesting piece for "Anglican Mainstream". He makes this comment on the Covenant debate held on the final day of the of the ACC-14 meeting in Jamaica:
“When it came to the covenant, Africans lined up to argue, along with others, that without section 4, which deals with issues of discipline, the covenant was meaningless."
Which is to say that the Anglican Covenant is not a covenant but a contract - one that was conceived as a way to punish and humiliate The Episcopal Church for our actions at General Convention 2003 and 2006.
More insidiously, the Covenant is not really a Covenant at all, not really a relational document freely subscribed to by all Anglicans as a statement of shared identity, but the preface to a penal code whose intent is not that different than the one in Deuteronomy.
Which, believe it or not, brings me back to the topic of bullies.
MadPriest has a wonderful new logo for the Bullies on Viagra. Check it out here, then put on your best kevlar vest and asbestos sneakers and check out the link.
Poor Greg has dug himself into another hole. The man is predictably funny, in a sad sort of way. When he hits bottom, he never fails to dig even deeper.
Remember when he posted a picture of an African American drag queen in a purple shirt at a Gay Pride Parade and insisted that it was Bishop Barbara Harris? It took him DAYS to admit that he was wrong. Poor baby.
Long, sad story short: Greg was outraged by a story about Bishop Gene in which +Gene reports a serious threat on his life. Greg says it's BS because HE, the Mighty He, can't find an "authentic" report of it anywhere - just in 'gay' papers like this one. And, this one.
But, uh oh, one of his own located a story in the Burlington press here and, oops, another one here.
Greg still refutes the claim, along with a few of his followers, because +Gene is not named in the story. And, even if it DOES turn out to be 'truth', they have comforted themselves with the fact that the only reason +Gene did it was to grandstand and draw attention to himself.
Last time I checked in Our Big Man had a call into the Burlington, VT police department and was awaiting a return phone call.
Hey, Greg! Here's a tip: Don't hold your breath, pal. You're just not that important, much less a credentialed journalist.
I think there is a universal truth in the stories out of Jamaica and Africa, the US and UK. Bullies are not interested in 'truth'. They are interested in power. Their own power. Even if - check that, especially if - it means someone is humiliated or punished or 'disciplined' for behaving in a way that the bully doesn't like.
Or, steals the spotlight from.
Here's what I think: I think the only 'conspiring' in Jamaica was done by The Holy Spirit, who does not seem at all pleased with duplicity, ignorance or bullies.
I think the evidence of the truth of that is overwhelming.