What I am about to write is not based upon a negative view of the matter at hand, and not of a positive one either. My reaction to the Anglican Covenent bandwagon that so many have hopped on to in their blogs is simply this: there is another pile of 'No' in the frame.
I frame all of my work from the point of view of the 'shop-floor'. I lack doctorates, professorial seats, a place on General Synod - what I have (thank God) is a ministry among normal people, who conveniently for this exercise at least, are culturally and internationally diverse. I am guessing, but I think I can accurately predict a scenario were I to instigate it on Sunday in my church:
Would all of you raise your arm, please? Thank you. Please lower your arm if you have not heard of the Anglican Covenant. Of the five that remain raised, please lower your arm if you a member of the clergy. To the one person left, would you please lower your arm if you either understand the Anglican Covenant or think it will make a difference to us in this place.
Guess how many arms would be left up?
The Church of England, and the wider Anglican Communion has a favourite mind-set, a favoured phrase: 'Oh no, I don't think I like that', and so we are all often fighting against anything that challenges us or goes against our own deep seated views. So we defend our point of view - often because it is easier to defend the existing than to change it. Because debate heats up, the protagonists in all camps become boxed in to the frame of reference into which they have placed themselves. The issues are, of course revolving around gender and sexuality a lot of the time, and now we have the Covenant. Now the thing about the Covenant is that it has caused even the academic liberals to say 'no', and I rarely hear a 'yes' from anyone.
The debate about the Anglican Covenant is fascinating, and it already selling articles and ratchetting up blog hits for many. It is has many worthy things to say about something that is probably only winding up the clergy and the academic theologians. I have asked around in several towns where I know people and the word on the street among the Christians I have spoken to is: 'No idea what you are talking about'.
I don't want to hear any more 'no' factions fighting with other 'no' factions. Neither seem able to offer an alternative; compromise seems too distant. If the liberal and self-styled modernists are even saying no, there is no-one else to say 'yes'. The Christians under my love and care want 'yesses'; they want to know that everything can be alright, that there isn't yet another carcinoma threatening the life of the Church that they love and the church they worship in every week. The Christians under my love and care worry about their jobs, their health, their friends; they mourn their loved ones, they celebrate the new arrivals; they want to know that they can say their prayers and that God will hear them; they want to maintain their Christian witness with integrity. They don't care about the governance of a mist-cloud organisation that has for years had limbs who will do what they want anyway. Standing Committees and Synods - these things and so many more are so far removed from the sphere of reference of normal everyday worshipping Christians that I know - what they want to hear is a pastoral response.
To the Covenant bashers - don't yell 'no', yell 'not that but this' - replace the Covenant with something else that can seek to address the issues that assault us. Give my parishioners and the ordinary parishioners of every church in the land something that they can embrace, that will give them peace of mind in times of trouble. Don't be another group of people who want to prohibit or remove something; be a group of people who want to put something exciting, pragmatic and workable in place. Shout 'yes' to something; make your fame and blog fortunes on a 'yes' not a 'no' - 'no' is killing us all.
My views concerning the Anglican Covenant are not represented in this blog post.