More thoughts on the Synod controversy (and no more)
The recent post about the failings of synodical process has generated an unprecedented amount of traffic to these pages, even to a rare mention from the Church Mouse, and spun off all kinds of surprising conversations elsewhere in the online universe. Pleasant as it is to have the attention, it has made me re-examine what I said in the light of the knowledge that people are actually reading it, and I feel a few more thoughts are in order:
- Always Hope has never pretended to be offering fully thought through opinions. It's more in the line of "thinking aloud", and I do welcome people's feedback, because the conversation is interesting, and it helps me form the thoughts more carefully. It may even be that I sometmes deliberately overstate the point. This is not because I court controversy - it's just what I call humour. Regular readers may get used to this and perhaps forgive me for it.
- You might be interested to know that though I personally am in favour of women in the episcopate, I would have liked to see a more formal provision for those who aren't. But I do stand by my comments about the behaviour of these "groups" on Synod. What has bothered me is not their aims, but the way they are behaving. Today I'm reading Ephesians 4:1-16, which talks about Christian unity. Unity does not have to presume absolute uniformity, but Ephesians says that the defining characteristics of Christian unity are charity and maturity, and I don't see much evidence of either of these in the way this episode has been played out.
- I have had several comments suggesting that I must be a bit of an innocent abroad if I think that the process of church governance can ever be non-political. This is very interesting. Of course what I was actually trying to say was that the Synod seemed to be aping the kind of politics that we see at Westminster. As well as being rude, this was making the point that it might be better for the church to develop its own model. Of course there are always going to different interests at work in a gathering like the Synod. But block voting? Manipulation of the agenda? Spinning the issues? These are not acceptable, and yes, even if the Bishops do it, that doesn't make it any better (worse, really). And am I really so naive to want a group of Christians to debate in a mature and honest way? I don't think so. We live in a fallen world, but our calling is to be transformed rather than conform. A bit of skulduggery at Synod might be inevitable, but I don't have to like it, nor do Synod members have to engage in it quite so enthusiastically.
Anyway, talking of being mature, time to move on. Thanks particularly to Alastair to a timely reflection on the choosing of words.