Friday, 28 March 2008

We live in interesting times.

Frequent visitor and honorary Duck Noodle Gangster Lapinbizarre left the following comment on a previous post:

"Did you notice the comment posted by 'Ren' (Renato Aguila) on Mark Harris's "Goodbye Network?" thread?

'The local Anglican seminary in Manila will, according to a reliable source, have a new dean who is close to Sydney in both theological and liturgical terms, is opposed to ecumenical dialogue especially with Roman Catholics, and is generally the kind who doesn't use incense in the Mass (and may not even want to call it that!).'

If true, suspect the gentleman will object to more than incense and the word "mass", but wondered if you have any background on what is going on in the Phillipines - it's less than a month since Mark Harris was over there getting an honorary doctorate, after all."

This is interesting, since I hadn’t heard of any Matthian moves into the Philippines, but as a tactic it sounds very familiar. It’s entirely in keeping with current “Strategic Ministry” policies, which are a curious evangelistic interpretation of Thatcher/Reagan’s “trickle down” economic theories. “Target tomorrow’s leaders” the dogma goes, “and tomorrow you’ll have the masses who’ll have followed them.” Except, of course, that after more than a decade this rhetorical tomorrow still hasn’t come. Sure it’s delivered factional control of Synod, but by God’s grace the hearts and minds of Sydney still appear happier embracing the GLBT Mardi Gras parade than they do neo-Gnosticism, and we’re still a long way from becoming a puritan theocracy.

In either case Ren is quite right; the Eucharist certainly isn’t called “Mass” around here. “Holy Communion” (although recently the ”Holy” part has started being dropped from church signage) or “the Lord’s Supper” seem to be the currently approved nomenclature. And genuflection at any point of the service is a sure sign of someone who’s never heard “the gospel”; how all this will sit with the rest of the Philippine church is anyone’s guess.

If Manila’s new Dean is indeed connected with Sydney then the silence is not so surprising. Just as local congregations are being kept in the dark about their new best friends’ Anglo-Catholic predilections, the Matthian vision of expansion and its accompanying triumphalism are being downplayed in dialogues with those beyond our evangelical borders. The Sydney satellite Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches’ web site reveals no forays into conservative (read “antediluvian”) Catholic dioceses such as Ballarat, which might upset the tenuous treaty formed to block the appointment of women bishops. The spearheads these congregations unquestionably represent are pointed firmly at those places which elsewhere in the world would be described as “broad church” and “moderate”. For now the “smells & bells brigade” (as they’re often referred to around here) seem off-limits, and making too much noise about a move into the Philippines might alarm Sydney’s strange bedfellows.

Sydney's brother in GAFCON: +Drexel Gomez

"Come, Bishop Jensen. Let us stand and speak of the splendour of our vestments. What will your brother be wearing when he arrives to join me in the Mass?"


Lapinbizarre said...

"Honorary Duck Noodle Gangster." Finally, after all these years, something worth engraving on my headstone. Thank you so much. Made my week .... and more.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Who knows what's happening in the Philippines? Full disclosure is not necessarily the order of the day.

You most surely have the Weird Rabbit pegged right. He fits right into your gang.

The picture and caption are hilarious.

Ren said...

Thank you for reposting my comment.

Well, here is what happened. Patrick Tanhuanco, an ultra-conservative evangelical whose parish's school refuses even to call itself Anglican, was nominated by the Primate of the Philippines to the deanery of St. Andrew's Seminary. This nomination was largely rubber-stamped by the trustees, bypassing a search committee which, I suspect, rejected a similar application.

The nomination instantly received much opposition from without. A lot of people were disappointed, not to mention angry. He is theologically at the fringes of the Philippine Episcopal Church, and it was recently disclosed that he actually tried giving Hal Lindsay as a resource for biblical studies to a friend of mine, who protested to the Bishop about it.

I suspect as much, you see. I think we are being dragged into the wider storm because of this, and I suspect promises of financial support may have been involved. (Yes, we are a poor province.)