Hallo again to all.
Recently we were in the USA on business, attending a conference at a famous university. This was not AO business, as there is no such thing as 'Anglicans Online business'. The conference was related to the paid employment that supports us and enables us to dedicate time and effort to AO.
It is customary at such events to hold a cocktail reception in the early evening of the first day, and this conference kept that custom. The reception was large enough that all of us were wearing nametags colour-coded to our identity and role in the conference. We were there to listen and learn, not to speak or present, so our nametag had only one coloured marker on it, which said 'Lunch'.
We dutifully mingled at the reception, looking for someone that we might know. Most of those present were much younger and reminded us of our years in graduate school. We always wear at professional events an unobtrusive cross pendant, but since it is unobtrusive, fellow minglers rarely notice it. In our Anglican world, larger more obtrusive crosses are reserved for bishops. That day we wore a 'chunky cross' we'd once bought at the Canterbury Cathedral gift shop, though there's nothing about it that says 'Anglican' rather than, say, 'Presbyterian' to someone who notices it.
After nearly an hour and too many helpings of cocktail appetizers, we were about to go outside to find a restaurant for dinner when a woman approached us and said 'I saw your nametag and thought I recognized your name; when I saw that cross I figured it had to be you. You're with Anglicans Online, right?' We confessed that it was true and congratulated her on her good memory for names. After some minor small talk, she said, with a certain amount of hesitation, 'Can I ask you a question? Is Anglicans Online good Anglican or bad Anglican?'
What a question! It stumped us for a moment until we realized that since we were in the USA where the word 'Anglican' has come to mean 'schismatic group no longer part of the US Episcopal Church', the question she was really asking was 'Since you use the name "Anglican", are you part of a schismatic group or are you part of the US Episcopal Church?' We didn't know which side she might be on, and since she was the first person who had talked to us during the entire reception, we didn't want to offend her. We offered some sort of vague reply that didn't really answer the question we knew she was asking, and then explained that we at Anglicans Online are inextricably connected to the Anglican Communion* and its structure, and that we take guidance from the Anglican Communion Office with respect to memberships and affiliations and names. We told her that as far as we knew there were very few Bad Anglicans in the world, and that we couldn't think of any besides Nolbert Kunonga and that God even loves him.
Our non-answer enabled her to believe that it was safe to rant, which she certainly did. She ranted about church leaders we knew who are active in Anglican gender politics, bishops who have used the Power of the Purple Shirt to keep undesirables out of their dioceses, bigoted Primates, and probably even more. Our ears had turned themselves off after they had heard enough ranting.
Then she asked something that had clearly been on her mind for a long time. 'Why ever do you call yourself Anglicans Online when the word "Anglican" means "breakaway"? Why aren't you Episcopalians Online or Canterbury Followers Online or something that doesn't glorify schismatics?' She glared for long enough to ensure that we realized it was not just a rhetorical question, that she really did want to know why Anglicans Online didn't change its name.
There are so many reasons for Anglicans Online to keep its name, but we didn't tell her any of them. We just said that we'd had that name for a long time, creeping up on 20 years, and that AO had been in existence since before the gender wars had started and that we would be in existence well after the gender wars had wound down, and that we just didn't want to change it. Resistance to change is, after all, very Anglican. We know that the political repurposing of the word 'Anglican' is something unique to the USA, and that while the USA might be the wealthiest member of the Anglican communion it is in no way the most important.
No, we didn't say any of those things. We kept our smile and thanked her profusely for taking the time to talk to us and for giving us her view of the world. We took our exit and went to a nearby Thai restaurant about which we'd heard great things, and had an excellent dinner of tom yum and green curry. Neither of which is the slightest bit Anglican, but both are available at two superlative Thai restaurants in the very shadow of Canterbury Cathedral**.
See you next week. Still Anglican.
26 January 2014
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