More Notes on the Communique: the Situation
It seems to me that TEC may do well--it is possible in the sense of being causally accessible--whether it chooses to abide by the Communique or not. Whatever we do, the nest of conservatives eager for realignment will not go away, and will most likely continue to work to displace the Episcopal Church for some new entity of their devising. That is, abiding by the Communique will not placate realignment-minded conservatives. Likewise, rejecting the Communique and going ahead, say, to a clean break with the Anglican Communion will not placate conservatives either. Even if a break were to bring a parallel Anglican province--even if TEC were to be formally removed from the Anglican Communion, which seems unlikely given the votes required, there will most likely be no peace.
The realignment-minded will most likely continue to do whatever they can to sow discord and sedition, prying away members, rectors, parishes, dioceses, and whatever material assets they can get away with realigning. Affirm or reject--TEC will still have to come up with a long-term strategy to defend itself from the hard right. For the hard right at this date ("in" but not "under" TEC, you see) has gone farther than the hard left ever did. Bishops Spong and Righter never--so far as I can tell--acted toward removing Newark from the Episcopal Church; activists for blacks, women, and homosexuals in the Episcopal Church never conspired to break up TEC or realign Anglicanism in the US. Our hard right has slipped over the horizon; it has gone so far it cannot, so far as I can tell, return. Affirming the Communique may delay a split or perhaps even weaken the hard right to the point where the split is ineffective, roughly after the pattern of the REC, but I doubt that someone thinking and feeling like Bishop Duncan--in my opinion--can ever be brought back to be happy or content within the polity of the Episcopal Church. Go ahead and believe in miracles if you wish, but I think we should plan ahead for still more "guerilla warfare" from the hard right, and then some more, and then some more.
I think what animates the animus of our hard right is the realization that they will not be able to reform the Episcopal Church from within, period. Some may hold out hope that it can be reformed from without, but I think most have arrived at the conclusion it cannot be reformed at all. It will simply have to be replaced. But replaced by what? I believe they have in mind an ideal: a single entity, another province, the franchise "Canon" Anderson referred to around the time of GC2006.
Indeed, the Communique may do for them what wasp-venom does for a grub: paralyze the prey alive long enough for the vampiric grub to feed and grow strong enough to fend for itself on its own. But--to continue with my metaphor--it will not transform the prey into another wasp. Just as that is impossible, so it is impossible in the minds of the right's leaders that TEc be reformed. But a paralyzed TEC that does nothing futher to weaken the right in the near term can still be useful to the right as an instrument for its own development and maturation.
That is what the realingment-minded will likely do--"feed off" the Episcopal Church and grow stronger, to the point of being viable at least as a parallel entity, if not a plausible replacement. The Network et al exist currently for the most part by negative differentiation from TEC: they don't elect or consent to actively gay bishops, they don't bless gay unions, they don't like all that liberal mushy stuff about Creeds and things. But that is not enough, and the right's leaders know it. The right needs a more visible, positive identity apart from TEC, one that can stand on its own as a point around which a new province could be organized. What will serve? Ideas are in the air: the 1662 BCP, the 39 Articles, and so on. It's tough, and I do nopt know whether it can be done, but they will try. And oh, by the way: they need more time. Numbers are extremely significant for them; they will above all seek to grow in the proportion of TEC they "represent". And here too, time is on their side. But they also will have to further centralize and organize themselves, so that realignment yields the hoped-for single viable province rather than a welter of fragments under different provinces already existing around the AC. Indeed, that is what makes Bishop Minns' actions at Truro, et al, so puzzling; so far as I can tell, they point to a disunity and confusion on the right: Minns resisting centralization under Duncan. I doubt Minns signed the recently uncovered Virginia submission document. And further resistance may come from Camp Allen bishops, and from within the Network: Howe bow to Duncan? And Iker too? Maybe; who knows. But if a united front with one great new leader is going to emerge from the potential mess of fragments, time is required to iron out differences. TEC cannot stop the right from acting along these lines, and I do not think argument, debate, or dialogue will yield results bringing peace with the right's leadership. The right will use every possible moment as an opportunity to sharpen and focus itself and its appeal.
All of this leads up to the question: What should TEC do?