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Hallo again to all.

In a curious volume called Yesterday with the Fathers, the author, WW Newton, writes about overhearing a conversation in his father's study in the early 1850s. His father was an American Episcopal minister and the conversation was amongst New York rectors of the Low Church party. Yesterday with the FathersThey were discussing passionately the ecclesiastical crisis du jour.

'A remark that was made to my father (the Reverend Dr Richard Newton) by the great Dr Tyng was never forgotten. Walking vigorously up and down the room, and snapping his fingers at rhythmic intervals, he exclaimed: "'Oh Richard! Richard! What is to become of the church when we are gone?"'

The Reverend Messrs Newton and Tyng are now long gone and few outside of professional church historians remember much of them or the quarrels of the early 1850s in the antebellum Episcopal Church. And yet to Dr Tyng, that night in 1852, the idea that 'the church' depended on him and his like-minded colleagues was entirely real.

Today the church seems chock full of the descendants of Dr Tyng: impassioned, finger-snapping, press-releasing Anglicans, who seem certain that the survival of 'the church' depends on the victory of their party and their point of view. At times it seems rather like some bizarre worldwide Anglican video game, with Extreme Anglican Action Figures battling on some sort of cosmic scale for ... invitations to Lambeth? A full deck of the Instruments of Unity? The ear of the advisers (we always imagine some sort of shadowy Greek chorus) to +Rowan Cantuar:?

We don't mean to belittle the issues, legitimate and serious, that face the Communion. But surely, sub specie aeternitatis, these can be placed in better proportion. What we hold in common within the Communion must indeed be more than what separates us — or why on earth are we still, in any way, 'together'?Magic 8 Ball

As we wait for clarity about the state (or unstate) of our creaky, leaky, straining at the bonds Anglican Communion, we thought recently of the toy called the 'Magic 8 Ball'. A large-ish black plastic ball, one 'asked' it a question and then upended the ball to see an answer appear in a tiny window at the bottom. One of our favourite responses that rolled up from the inky depths of the mystery that was the Magic 8 Ball was: Reply hazy, try again.

And indeed it is. All the prognostication and press releases, blogging and betting, posturing and positing, can't reveal at this time what God has in mind for our Ecclesia Anglicana. We might do best to turn our attention to Micah's advice and worry less about what will happen next August, somewhere near Canterbury, England. We don't need to 'protect' the church or 'defend' God; what greater hubris could there be?

We hope, we pray that the Anglican Communion will continue ever onward, in some true fashion, a God-filled 'place' of salvation and light. But if it shatters, God's church goes on. The answer, in Magic 8 Ball argot: It is decidedly so.

As a dear friend once wrote, 'I am an Anglican. Life is messy. God watches all — and God's time is long. Watch and wait. Keep the banners high'.

See you next week.

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Last updated: 10 June 2007


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