Weblogs at the Centre of Anglican Division

We have grown up taking news from journalistic sources and broadcast media, but alongside a revolution in broadcast news towards the live and unmediated, there is also a revolution in extreme narrowcasting. No institution has been so affected by such narrowcasting as the Anglican Communion and its constituent Churches.
By extreme narrowcasting I mean highly specialist weblogs (or "blogs") that focus in detail on a specialism. So there are blogs that focus not just on, say, Christianity but on Anglican matters, and particularly institutional disputes. Each blog gives main comment and has space for responses from those who read them. The blogs offer combinations of:
  • News release (directly out of an institution)
  • Insider commentary (key individuals at the scene)
  • Analysis (using education, training or professional skill)
  • Opinion (a bias that attracts that bias or inclusive comment)
  • Co-ordination (a portal to many sources)
My own blog connects to my website and does concern Anglican and general religious concerns (as well as some politics and website updates). It is dedicated to a liberal and inclusive bias, and offers analysis based on my postgraduate qualifications in the sociology of religion and theology plus my own participation in many denominations and groups in other faiths. From time to time I cartoon the likenesses of individuals in religion. My only real news element was when I transcribed a lecture on a video given to the Reform pressure group by the Rev. Dr Richard Turnbull, which was able to transform the use of what he said throughout the blogsphere and gave the ability fo many to understand the oppositional strategy of some conservative evangelicals. This was before I even had my own blog, the transcript being placed on my website and used by many bloggers.
Others do produce news, for example when Gregory on Stand Firm in Faith states...

Craig, it's not a case of walking off cheerfully - that is no way the case and a mockery of the heartsearching that has gone on. It's just that there is no more trust in the Anglican system.

[149] Posted by Gregory on 01-01-2008 at 05:27 PM

...you know that you are reading a very important insider: the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, undeer whom the bishop of San Joaquin wishes to place himself and The Episcopal Church's diocese.
Letters and emails get released on to blogs, as do other primary sources, that are then picked up for every ramification.
Nowadays the blogs give a level of insight and expertise that make newspaper journalism look decidedly second hand, late and frequently missing the point. Blogs have been able to show through source documents and prior dicussion when a national newspaper dredges up an old story and adds an obvious bias.
The world of blogs and websites is becoming a reality of its own. We know from public registration details that on 14th December 2007 the weblog Anglican Mainstream and its owner Canon Dr. Chris Sugden purchased the domain name gafcon.org even ahead of a meeting at Nairobi of selected primates and others from the Global South in which they decided to set up the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) to meet about a month before the Lambeth Conference in 2008. In other words, the outcome was known before the meeting. They intend to have a pilgrimage and conference in Jerusalem, much to the annoyance of the diocesan bishop for whom his ministry is reconciliation and not the sowing of more division.
My blog has extensively and intensely analysed this new conference and uses Anglican Mainstream's and related own material to liken the strategy of GAFCON to that of Militant Tendency within the Labour Party in the 1980s. This Militant Tendency accepts legitimisation from those evangelicals who agree with it, but the core personnel always keep control; even friends who disagree with it can get a public criticising, seen via the web, as happened after the critical blogging of a senior conservative theologian in South East Asia.
There is a trail of half-truths and yet much ego in the business of action. Like Militant, this group wants to get things done. It will bypass and manipulate the layers of Anglcian organisations that, effectively, slow down the creation of an ultra-orthodox Anglicanism. The GAFCON is nothing less than the launch of an alternative Anglican Communion, which will involve its own organisation, structures and statements of belief. It will produce its own equivalent of a Covenant long before the (what will become) Canterbury Communion can process its own, if it ever does.
The Canterbury Covenant is about defining Anglicanism and the Instruments of Communion. This was explained in the Advent Letter of 2007 issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury. My blog is one of those that has analysed the Advent Letter. I maintain that the Archbishop, whatever may be his own views, adopted the biblicist views of such as Anglican Mainstream, whilst differing by arguing for the centralisation of the Communion to become the body - and not other Provinces - to intervene in the affairs of so called heterodox or "failed" Churches. I have argued on my blog that this has been a huge mistake, and only confirms to those organising GAFCON that they can ignore the efforts of the Archbishop in such a letter that was written to get as many bishops to attend Lambeth 2008 as possible. GAFCON will go ahead regardless, as it takes the initative and acts even against other opinion in the Global South that claims also to represent orthodoxy. GAFCON will be seeking to attract individuals (bishops, clergy and laypeople) and churches, and intends to carry out church planting.
Internet Communications Technology then is at the heart of Anglican affairs, and more than this is at the heart of the production of either two branches of the Anglican Communion or (as such is an impossibility from a Canterbury perspective) two Anglican Communions. This year will see this structural division take place. One Communion will centre around national Churches, bishops, dioceses and membership by baptism. Another will be based on a believers' fellowships, with an episcopal method of Elders acting as doctrine and behaviour police. A way to find out about this huge change is to read, and even write, weblogs.

Adrian Worsfold (Pluralist)



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