As is so often the case, my friend Rick is right.
Turns out that five Anglican primates have announced their intention to boycott the 2008 Lambeth Conference. (I wish they would not. Even if it turns out Lambeth 2008 is a waste of time and effort – at least give it one last chance if only to prove that playing by the rules is a waste of effort and time.) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church had something to say about this:
The gathering will be diminished by their absence, and I imagine that they themselves will miss a gift they might have otherwise received… None of us is called to ‘feel at home’ except in the full and immediate presence of God. It is our searching, especially with those we find most ‘other,’ that is likely to lead us into the fuller experience of the body of Christ. Fear of the other is an invitation to seek the face of God, not a threat to be avoided.
Insofar as any bright eight year old can understand this I offered the following response at Midwest Conservative Journal by Christopher Johnson:
A painfully obvious question is whether she regards orthodox Anglican (arch)bishops as ‘Other’. (Just as rhetorically she assumes they regard her/ECUSA as ‘Other’.) And if so – are they a threat to be avoided? Does she think that searching with these orthodox/conservative Anglican leaders she and the TEC will be led into a fuller experience of the body of Christ?
We may surmise (such as from the aforementioned NPR interview) that her answer would indeed be ‘yes’. But we may also surmise that she already knows what this fuller experience of Christ looks like. She already knows where the search will take them. We may then challenge her and TEC – is it possible that by engaging the ‘Other’ (where ‘Other’ = Anglican leaders who differ strongly with you, those who may boycott Lambeth) your search will lead *you* (and TEC) somewhere you do not expect? such that you might need to do some repenting? (Fairness requires we raise the possibility that both ’sides’ will be led somewhere new that none of them expect.)
Her invocation of ‘Other’ may be rhetorical hypocrisy. (My guess it is.) She expects ‘them’ to walk with her (as ‘Other’ to them) but is not open to the reverse. But perhaps her rhetoric is somehow sincere. But even then is she sincerely open to its implications?
I am reminded by a famous question often asked by Linus the theologian from the cartoon “Peanuts”. “Has it ever occurred to you that you could be wrong?”