Anglicans Online banner
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 200 000 readers More than 10 000 links Updated every Sunday


New This Week
Everything new is here.

News Centre
News archive
News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe . . .
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
New Zealand

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
Beginnings, AO today
About our logo

Support AO
Shop for AO goods
Thanks to our friends

Our search engine


Hallo again to all.

We have been listening carefully to the arguments in the Anglican world over the last few years. We weren't alive during other major arguments, in 1054 or 1378 or 1517. And we know that history is so often rewritten by the victors; we daren't make statements about schisms or reformations without years of careful study.

But we think that the fundamental nature of human beings probably hasn't changed a lot in the last thousand years. People are motivated by different forces and dreams, and see every situation filtered through their own experience, perception, and opinions.

The meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops ended this week at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, and we've read the various press releases, communiqués, and statements issued during and after it. Our News Centre has highlights, and Thinking Anglicans has more detail in several sections here. We reached the conclusion that, at this point, the loudest voices are not arguing about faith or church governance or theology or scholarship; rather, they are arguing about the subject of their argument.

One side is fond of saying that the argument is about truth, about whether truth is absolute or temporal. The other side is fond of saying that the argument is about power, that this is not about truth but about control. Golly, we don't know. Maybe we could argue about whether the argument is about argument? We were flummoxed.

Then, recently, we encountered the delightful book Seeking Enlightenment Hat by Hat, by Nevada Barr. She begins one chapter by noting:

Having made my living much of my life by writing fiction, I know when I, or those around me, are making things up, when our plotlines drift free of the earth and we begin to weave tales of explanation or justification or—in most cases—tales of what we would like our story to be. We like stories where we are the star.

A V8 engineA light came on. Thank you, Nevada Barr, for recasting in modern language the message that saints since Francis of Assisi have been trying to get across: the Christian faith isn't about you or me or that power-seeking bishop over there. It's about Christ. We like stories where we are the star, and we sometimes think that if we win just one more argument, we will be the star of something.

We're reticent to quote any more of this book because we want you to run out and buy it, like we did, but we'll risk a letter from her attorneys and tease you with one more quote:

Studying these many descriptions of heaven, what heaven is like and who will reside there and who will be turned away at the gate, I couldn't help but notice the fiction creeping in. Since we cannot know what stamps will be required on our passports to eternity, we do the next best thing: we make them up. Humans are audacious beasts, bent on controlling and explaining the universe.

We cannot know whether truth or power is the core of the church, so we just make things up. Now that makes sense.

See you next week.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 28 March 2004

A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2004 Society of Archbishop Justus