Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thoughts on a rainy day

What are the essential, the absolutely essential features of the Anglican position? When it is proposed to make Anglicanism the basis of a Church of Reconciliation, it is above all things necessary to determine what Anglicanism pure and simply is. The word brings up before the eyes of some a flutter of surplices, a vision of village spires and cathedral towers, a somewhat stiff and stately company of deans, prebendaries, and choristers, and that is about all. But we are greatly mistaken if we imagine that the Anglican principle has no substantial existence apart from the accessories. Indeed, it is only when we have stripped Anglicanism of the picturesque costume which English life has thrown around it, that we can fairly study its anatomy, or understand its possibilities of power and adaptation....

If our whole ambition as Anglicans in America be to continue a small, but eminently respectable body of Christians, and to offer a refuge to people of refinement and sensibility, who are shocked by the irreverences they are apt to encounter elsewhere; in a word, if we care to be only a countercheck and not a force in society; then let us say as much in plain terms, and frankly renounce any and all claim to catholicity. We have only, in such a case to wrap the robe of our dignity about us, and walk quietly along in a seclusion no one will take much trouble to disturb. Thus may we be a church in name, a sect in deed.

But if we aim at something nobler than this. If we would have our Communion become national in very truth--in other words, if we would bring the Church of Christ into the closest possible sympathy with the throbbing, sorrowing, sinning, repenting, aspiring heart of this great people--then let us press our reasonable claims to be the reconciler of a divided household, not in a spirit of arrogance (which ill befits those whose best possessions have come to them by inheritance), but with affectionate earnestness and intelligent zeal...

...I've pondered these words as something that might have been said at the recent General Convention, but in truth they are words penned more than a century ago by William Reed Huntington, whose commemoration we observed on July 27th.

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