For bishops, charged with responsibilities - and especially primates in particular cultural venues - we can only imagine the torn and conflicted hearts amongst that order. At the very heart of the conflict is our Anglican identity. Why are people Anglican? The question is as simple and as complex as the first question on the Alpha Course. That question has to do with the identity of Jesus. But this question has to do with our identity as Christians. Why are we Anglican? What makes us Anglican? Is that the same as being Episcopalian? And who decides? God? Man? And what do we make of the cares and occupations of our lives? When trust is broken - whom do we trust?
He opens this letter by laying out his credentials - "I am one of you," he says. We're not sure who he's writing to - who are his "brothers?" Yet it's important to him that he lays the foundation of his own solidarity with these recipients. "I am one of you." But then he reveals what appears to be the real agenda of the letter - intentional or unintentional, when people are in pain it's very hard to tell - and that is to sow discord amongst the leaders of the Global South by claiming that there are unnamed forces from the North out to get them. With cunning brilliance, there's no other way to describe it, he exploits age-old prejudices and bigotry, often in the most passive/aggressive ways. And he aims for scapegoats, for someone else to blame, taking none of the responsibility for himself - his apology, however masked, is for not showing up for a meeting he says he is honored to be invited to, yet to comes with without a direct explanation (have to mow lawn, feed ducks, take out trash) - though certainly we decipher his intentions indirectly. Tragically, his aim is at the very people whom the Global South primates have taken in as ecclesiastical refugees. He holds out his hand, and then nicely slaps us with the other. Just how far does the arm of litigation reach? I truly cannot believe it. I wonder if he does.
08 May 2008
My very dear brothers in Christ (and we're not sure which brothers these are, by the way - all the primates, all the bishops of his province?),
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
First I want to make it clear that this letter expresses my views as the Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt, not the views of the whole Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. I count it a great honour to have been invited to GAFCON. (a little bit of flattery - it's an honour best served cold).
I appreciate (a very interesting choice of words - he does not say he agrees with it, in fact, he chooses a word that basically says he acknowledges that this is why GAFCON was planned, but he's very careful to not affirm it - in fact, it's deception because the word itself is so positive that we think he's saying something positive about it, but he doesn't - he's just acknowledging what they believe) the fact that GAFCON provides an (not the) important meeting place for leaders from the South and from the North. I very much understand the frustrations as well as the hopes that led to the organisation of this conference (he affirms the frustrations, but not the action - in fact, looking back since 2003, Anis has taken very few public actions except to write letters - wonderful letters, indeed - but where has been the action?).
I do share your frustration in regard to what is going on in our Communion, as well as your hopes for strong and faithful Anglican church (no big surprise - but he's trying to establish his credentials, he's "one of us").
I am very disappointed with the direction taken by the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church in Canada. This direction is not only about sexual ethics, which are contrary to Scripture, but also in regard to the fundamentals of the Apostolic Faith as we received it, like the Nature of Christ, the authority of scripture and God’s Salvation through Jesus Christ (This part is like a mantra - I took it at face value the first time I read this, very glad for the reiteration of the facts, but later reading it in the context of his letter it seems as though this is still part of his mantra to establish his credentials, especially when we get to the part where he takes his drastic turn. He needs to build a foundation that he's not one of Them.).
In addition they use very ambiguous language and contradictory phrases in their responses to the clear Windsor recommendation as well as the Dar es Salaam ones. It was shocking for me to hear that some now ask for the definition of ‘moratorium’ after four years of issuing The Windsor Report! (Right - and so what are you going to do about it? What? Go to the groovy Lambeth Be-In?)
I am deeply concerned that The Windsor Report and Dar es Salaam recommendations were not followed through and now the very people who caused the Communion’s crisis are invited to the most important Anglican council which is the Lambeth Conference. It is wrong to sweep all these problems under the carpet! (Dah! We know that. So what are you doing about it? Nothing? More words?)
I also share your hopes that we can go forward to advance the mission of the Gospel and be instruments in building the Church of Christ, founded on the Biblical truth. (Dah! What are you actually going to do about it? Have lunch at Lambeth Palace?).
Having said all this I am sorry that I will not be able to be with you at your Conference but I assure you that you will be in my prayers. (Now here he doesn't say why - and this is one of the primary examples of the nature of this as a passive/aggressive letter. It is obvious that the audience of this letter know exactly why he's not coming, but Bishop Anis' inability to say it here is telling - if he says the real reason why, he negates everything he said earlier. And he can't do that because of what is coming). Please accept my apologies. (Why? This is the British-form of politeness for affect - sorry I hit your car head on! - if he was sorry he'd be honest and say why he's not coming - perhaps the recipients all ready know, in which case, why is he writing the letter? And why release it to the world?.). I also look forward to receiving your recommendations before going to Lambeth. (that's all though - again, I read more into this than is there. He looks forward to receiving their recommendations - but for what? Nothing. For all we know, he'll use their recommendations against them. He doesn't say - and again, what he doesn't say is louder than anything he does say. I look forward to seeing who is going to be the Democratic Nominee, but it doesn't mean I'm voting for that person - in fact, I will not. But I am curious to see how it all turns out so we can get on with the Presidential campaign). My brothers (must be the Primates he's writing to) I want to draw your attention to the following: (NOW WE GET TO THE POINT OF THE LETTER) 1) The unity of the Global South (GS) is our great concern.
(HOLD EVERYTHING. Let's just stop here and sit for a while. I actually read this part out loud several times. "The unity of the Global South is our great concern. The unity of the Global South is our great concern. The unity of the Global South is our great concern. The unity of the Global South is our great concern. The unity of the Global South is our great concern." The Global South is unified. The problem is Mouneer Anis. He's isolated. Only, he's not going to take responsibility for that isolation. He's going to look for a scapegoat. Classic passive/aggressive behavior. Bishop Anis is either enraged or in grief, but he's in denial, massive denial and he sees the writing on the wall and it's not in his hand. So it's time to find a scapegoat. He has now projected his own alienation onto his audience, the Global South primates. He's now pronounced as a "great concern" something that is of his own making. It's truly sad. I just can't believe it.)
As you know the Global South was established in 1997 and has been recognized by the whole Anglican Communion. (Did you hear the slap? Read it again. The implication is that there are those who are not recognized by the whole communion - some who are now, in 2008, in the Global South. The point is that Global South is recognized by the whole communion and that is why it offered refuge to Americans and Canadians who wanted to remain Anglican but could not remain in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. He establishes the fact that is recognized by the whole communion and so all who are in the Global South are recognized by the whole communion. But remember, his "great concern" is the unity of the Global South. Think about it.). It has been effective in strengthening the South to South links (Slap again. He's shifting away from the realignment based on Anglican theology and toward geography - he's revealing his hand, which in this case - is NO DIFFERENT THAN KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI. Shocked? So are we). The GS is composed of more than twenty provinces. (Which means it outnumbers the rest of the Anglican Communion - it dominates the communion by sheer numbers, as if all Anglicans were equal. Are they? To be associated, then with the Global South is to give a primate standing - but only if the Anglicans are equal. Are they?).
There is now increasing interest from Orthodox Bishops in the North to be affiliated with the Global South. ("increasing interest?" Is that what he calls the Diocese of San Joaquin and perhaps other dioceses voting to realign with Global South provinces? Is that what he calls the formation of CANA and AMiA? Increasing interest? The phrase is outrageous. It's almost as though he's intentionally being humorous by his understatement, only he's not - he's being passive/aggressive - he's trying to minimize the relationships now between Anglicans based on doctrine, not geography). This is because we use a moderate but form of language. (Here's one of the typos in the letter, which denotes that what was leaked was either a draft or an unproofed final - does it mean the bishop wrote it all by himself and showed it to no one?). In our last Steering Committee of the Global South in March we (Ah ha - so he's one of the leaders and now we see that he's isolated, it's appearing like the Global South is moving in direction he no longer wants to go in - what's up with that?), in our statement, affirmed the importance of the Global South and its mission: (More emphasis on the Global South, which a deemphasis from the Americans and the Canadians). We see an increasing conviction and confirmation of the prophetic and priestly vocation of the Global South (there it is again - which denotes that the prophetic and priestly vocation does not include the refugees from America and Canada) in the Anglican Communion.
As Primates coming from different contexts (now here is a Schori phrase as we've ever hear it), we were led into deep conversations (did he really write this? More Schori-type phrases, "led into deep conversations?" Why doesn't he say "we discussed the future" or something straight forward - again, as is the problem with 815, more passive language) and helpful clarifications on the challenges before us ("helpful clarifications" which reads like a shadow of what really happened, one almost wonders if they got to blows at the last meeting) (Ps 133; Eph 4:1-6; Phil 2:1-5). We reaffirmed our total and collegial commitment to the solemn vocation of (wait for it - "our Christian brothers and sisters around the world? Nope.) the Global South. We resolved, and urge all in the (wait for it - because it's important now to separate based on theology and to reiterate relationships based on geography) Global South and other orthodox constituencies of the wider Communion (but he doesn't say North - what's up with that? Is that because it has to to with England and the appeasers in England who think that talking is going to fix this problem? Is that what has happened to him - that Graham Kings has gotten a hold of him and Rowan Williams has given him his personal mobile number?) to strengthen our hearts and wills to work together for the fundamental renewal and transformation of the (wait for it) global Anglican Communion.
We also stated (and of course, he's not quoting, he restating his version to fit his agenda now): Through our conversations together and clarifications made (there is that phrase again- where is it coming from - "our conversations together" - no one talks like that, those aren't real phrases, they are affected phrases, phrases fraught with political meaning - what's up with that?), we are led to understand and appreciate (again - passive voice - "we are led to understand and appreciate?" What is that? Lofty language? Who is this aimed at - we know that many of the Global South do not talk like this - they are direct and straight to the point - why is Anis talking like he's moved into 815?) the principled reasons for participation in GAFCON (June 2008) and Lambeth Conference (Jul 2008). Even if there are different perspectives on these (i.e., he does not agree), they do not and should not be allowed to disrupt (this is possibly one of the most upsetting parts of this letter. What does he mean "they do not and should not be allowed to disrupt?" Again - that's 815 thinking, that even the pretensions of unity outweigh truth - no, Bishop Anis - truth often disrupts, truth often disrupts - must we say it again. Truth often disrupts - Jesus is the stone that makes men stumble, the rock that makes them fall, I just can't believe he'd write such a thing - what has happened? Have aliens from outerspace landed near the Pyramids and have snatched the real Mouneer Anis, leaving a pod person to write this thing?) the common vision, unity and trust within (wait for it) the Global South.
Okay, we just have to stop and quote this part, it's so unbelievable. It's hard to believe an orthodox Anglican would write such a thing. "...they do not and should not be allowed to disrupt the common vision, unity and trust within the Global South." Didn't Bishop Lee say something about this one time, causing all hell to break lose in Virginia?
For this reason I appeal to you to take the above statements fully into your consideration (you've been warned!) and to be careful not to make binding decisions which may result in dividing Anglicans in the Global South and elsewhere (you've been warned. In other words - don't actually do anything at GAFCON, just keep your head down and shut up until it's all over). At the same time I would like to share with you a little more of my own thinking. (but wait - there's more - and here it comes. The scapegoat).
I believe that the best strategy for safeguarding orthodox faith and unhindered mission is to have parallel processes for building unity among those loyal to the biblical historic faith and ethics in both the South and the North. (In other words - no more mingling with these Yanks. You can swap Christmas Cards, but don't actually try to live in the same house). Orthodox leaders in the South and in the North need to continue to work together and support each other (but they get one fountain, we get another).
I would respectfully add that the (wait for it) Global South South has been looking after our interests - that must not be driven (driven? Who's driven? Driven means that the Global South is not in the driver's seat - but someone else is driving. But wait, Mouneer Anis is one of those in the Driver's Seat, isn't he? Or is he mad that he's not finding more who will talk but not walk the talk and appease the powers that be? So now we have some outside forces driving these poor ignorant Africans - that's what he's saying, friends, and that is why this shocking. If the Global South was made up of Norwegians and Finns, he wouldn't be writing like this. He assumes that because the majority of the Global South is black, they can be driven - it's simply outrageous - it's like he doesn't even know Peter Akinola - and he does. Why would he sew these seeds - unless this letter does not include Africa? What if this letter is written to his own province, thereby exploiting very old and very un-redeemed bigotry, it's outrageous, I just simply can't believe he's engaging in this type of maneuvering that we've seen most ironically on our side the pond) by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities (i.e., not Africa, not Asia, not the Middle East, etc - Northern personalities? Now this is where I feel betrayed. I have felt a kinship with the Global South - including Mouneer Anis based on our common fait. I did not know that he is now casting a dividing line between the "have's" and "have nots" and that Northern personalities (can we guess who's he talking about here - I just simply can't believe it, they've been friends for years, years - years. So it appears that this letter is not written to Africa, but is written to his brother Middle East bishops and building an alliance with them against Africa - so the question is, who and why was this letter leaked?). The meeting of the Global South in ‘09 will be critical for the future, and the agenda will need careful preparation ahead of time. (in other words, it's time to assimilate the Global South back into the progressive structures of the Anglican Communion - Unity 10, Truth 0.).
The constitution of the Global South needs to be reviewed in such a way as to clarify representation and appointment of office bearers (unless you've been living with Bin Laden in a cave, you know exactly who he's talking about here - and doing so behind that bishop's back rather than face to face - that is until this letter was leaked. What has happened?). The Global South has contributed much to the initiation of the Covenant process, and will need to consider how it is progressing. (Another passive statement - he implies that those in the North are subverting the Covenant, the heart of the issue. He's ticked off because so much of the orthodox Anglican Communion knows that the covenant is decades from passing, as Mouneer Anis told us himself! But instead of blaming the leadership of the Anglican Communion for their failure - i.e., you know who - he blames his own friends who have stood with him and he with them for so many years. That's called betrayal.).
If there is no prospect of a Covenant that safeguards orthodoxy and unhindered mission within a reasonable timescale (as if!), then the possibility of adopting a "holding covenant" may need to be considered (What is that sound? Oh, it's the howling of the TEC progressives! Don't hold your breath - this again denotes a sense of denial or illusion about the facts on the ground). I urge you all to consider participating in the Lambeth Conference. (Zinger!)
The absence of any of your voices will be a great loss (now we go back to flattery again - "the absence of your voices?" Did he really say that? Again, an 815-style phrase. "The absence of your voices" is affected - why doesn't he just speak plainly? Is it more important to him to be aligned culturally with Rowan Williams than with his brothers who share his orthodox faith? What exactly has Rowan been saying to him?). God has spoken to me through the Book of Jonah (his certainty is rather amazing - not "I believe God really spoke to me through the reading of the scriptures and particularly when I was reading about Jonah - no he doesn't explain, his audience is left to infer his meaning, which again is passive). So I decided not to withdraw but to go and speak the truth, and leave the rest to God (which means no more action required and of course, those of you who don't do that don't get the Book of Jonah, is that it?). Please remember that there will be bishops who are not fully aware of the seriousness of the situation (now it's time to lay the guilt trip - if there is a bishop alive who is clueless what are they doing being a bishop? Oh, and by way - what "situation" is he actually talking about here? The Anglican Communion Crisis or the Global South realignment? Hmm?). They need to be alerted (more guilt - you don't have time to do it yourself, is that it?) Your presence would be a help, as indeed it was in 1998 (except for the fact that the Anglican Communion is in crisis and division - hello? Didn't you get the memo?).
I am reminded by the words of Jesus that we continue to live in the world: "I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." John 17: 14-16 One last point: we need to combine steadfastness, a peaceable spirit and gracious language (now that's pointing out the log in one's eye - having just undermined the Global South leadership and relationships, he calls for love, love, love. He implies that's not what the Global South has been doing. Arrogance, how can that be?).
I believe that the language we use needs to be especially appealing to the "people in the pews" who may be confused or misled (Confused? Misled? He's talking about us - we, the stupid sheep? We understand very well, sir), having less understanding of the issues of the controversy (patronizing now! is this a swipe at the internet like the other you know who did yesterday?), but who want to remain true (true? as opposed to what? false? Another passive/aggressive moment) Christians and Anglicans (this is another Schorism - he's poking at the blogs - Greg Griffith, Kendall Harmon, call your offices). "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." 1 Thess 5:24 May the Lord bless you (but what if it brings discord, his blessing? What if speaking out in truth causes men to stumble and fall? Will you just push rewind? Isn't that what he's trying to do here - push rewind and try to bring it all back to good old days? Are we witnessing a man so torn with grief he's forgotten who his friends are? Or is the Lord leading him somewhere where he does not want to go?).
Yours in Christ,
The Most Rev Dr Mouneer H. Anis
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.
And so now we know.
The deal is - the pain is excruciating. A bishop wishes to lead and keep his people safe. But as we mentioned in the old tried and true 12-steps, at some point we realize it's not working and we give up and get real, learn to speak plainly and honestly and truthfully, with no gaming, no scheming, no scapegoating, no blaming, no whining, no nothing but repentance. Perhaps what we're seeing played out in this letter is a flood of grief.
Get out the mops It's going to be a long summer. In the meantime, let's go to the Prayer Book.
|Remember not, Lord, our offences,|
| ||nor the offences of our forefathers;|
|neither take thou vengeance of our sins:|
|spare us, good Lord, spare thy people,|
| ||whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood,|
|and be not angry with us for ever.|
|Spare us, good Lord.|
|From all evil and mischief;|
|from sin, from the crafts and assaults of the devil;|
|from thy wrath, and from everlasting damnation,|
|good Lord, deliver us.|
|From all blindness of heart;|
|from pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy;|
|from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness,|
|good Lord, deliver us.|
|From fornication, and all other deadly sin;|
|and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,|
|good Lord, deliver us.|
|From lightning and tempest;|
|from plague, pestilence, and famine;|
|from battle and murder, and from sudden death,|
|good Lord, deliver us.|
|From all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion;|
|from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism;|
|from hardness of heart,|
| ||and contempt of thy Word and Commandment,|
|good Lord, deliver us.|
|By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation;|
|by thy holy Nativity and Circumcision;|
|by thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation,|
|good Lord, deliver us.|
|By thine Agony and bloody Sweat;|
|by thy Cross and Passion;|
|by thy precious Death and Burial;|
|by thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension;|
|and by the coming of the Holy Ghost,|
|good Lord, deliver us.|
|In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our wealth;|
|in the hour of death, and in the day of judgement,|
|good Lord, deliver us.|
|We sinners do beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God;|
|and that it may please thee to rule and govern|
| ||thy holy Church universal in the right way,|
|we beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.|