No news is good news? To all the world ...:
Having monitored the Anglican news scene for so long, I am noticing a sea change. Some Anglican news outlets seem to be having trouble finding stories to report. There have been slow seasons in Anglican news before, and the period following the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention (which we are now in) is often one of those seasons.
But this time it is different, and I find myself questioning whether the Anglican news scene will ever be the same again ... For something to be newsworthy, there has to be a certain "Man Bites Dog" element to it; and, frankly, we will never see that kind of newsworthiness from the Episcopal Church ever again.
Gay bishops--done that. Gay marriage--done that. Transgendered clergy--done that. Panentheist theology--now so much a part of the landscape that orthodoxy is virtually extinct. Episcopal Church tries to co-opt African churches with its money--entirely predictable. What is left to surprise us? Polyamory? Rewriting the Prayer Book for a gender-neutral or feminine God? These are just the next stops on the train ride to Perdition. The track is already laid and the destination is certain. Any stops along the way are already mapped. We may even get to the stop where the old canard comes true: "Farmer Marries Cow in Episcopal Ceremony" ...
Now the focus has shifted to the Anglican Communion, where we see the same pattern the Episcopal Church has followed for decades being played out all over again: The official structures become increasingly heterodox, and a orthodox resistance movement forms which becomes the foundation for a movement of renewal.
Too little too late? Catholicity and covenant:
All this might, therefore, be further evidence of a retrieval of the BCP 1662 by catholic Anglicans on this side of the Atlantic, recognising afresh its deeply catholic rhythms as a means of renewing the catholic experience within Anglicanism. Such a retrieval would have a two-fold importance. Firstly, it would enable 1662 to complement contemporary liturgies. The slower, more contemplative pace of the 1662 eucharistic rite, the beauty of Evensong, the use of the ancient collects - here 1662 has particular gifts to offer catholic Anglicans alongside our use of contemporary rites.
Secondly, while perhaps a bit more difficult to define, there is the possibility that a retrieval of 1662 would also contribute to a renewed sense of catholic Anglicans being comfortable about, well, being Anglican. We are bearers of "the patristic and Western Catholic tradition". And yet, it might be the case that we have internalised the Buchanan-Duffy interpretation and, as a result, thrown off the shackles of the 'Protestant' BCP - Anglicanism's foundational liturgical expression. If so, it is hardly surprising that catholic Anglicanism has went through a painful period of dispute and debate about identity, vocation and charism. A confident reassertion of 1662's patristic and catholic ethos could, then, be a means of restoring an understanding of identity, vocation and charism to contemporary catholic Anglicans.