Stephen Crittenden: While we have you here, Canon Conger, as well as being one of the senior correspondents for the truly excellent Church of England Newspaper, you have your own very fine blog site on all matters Anglican, and it seems like a good opportunity to catch up on what's going on in North America in the lead-up to the Lambeth conference. It seems that things are being ramped up to quite a considerable degree in the lead-up to Lambeth. I notice that the church in California is preparing to conduct its first gay marriages, Bishop G. Robinson of New Hampshire who's the gay bishop at the centre of the whole crisis, has recently announced that he wants to marry. A number of dioceses in Canada seem to be moving in the direction of same sex blessings. It really does look like Lambeth could be a real showdown would you agree? Or is that not how you read the situation?
George Conger: Well the Archbishop of Canterbury is desperate that nothing happen at Lambeth. He wants to prevent any sort of showdown, and so he's devised a program that minimises any opportunity for collective mass action on particular issues. Using the tool of small groups and face-to-face discussion, a cynic would say that's the way to prevent real action from taking place. What you're seeing in the US are people as I say, establishing facts on the ground, going into the conference saying 'Well this is the situation where I am', and basically playing a political gamesmanship. 'This is how far we're going to go and get what we want, be it same sex blessings, the normalisation of gay clergy, or from the conservative side, we're going to have parallel churches overseen by African archbishops in the US', and basically saying, 'What are you going to do about it?' It's a game of brinksmanship right now in the run-up to Lambeth. And there could be an explosion. Neither side is backing away, and for conservatives this is an issue of salvation; that the liberals are teaching a false doctrine, a false Christ; for liberals, the conservatives are blind to the call of justice and the prophetic words of the gospel. There are two religions in one church. There's no sanction for bad behaviour in the Anglican communion. Read more
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