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A Problem of America: For what fills the heart will rise to the lips, and Is Charismatic Culture African?

Some interesting tidbits from Lambeth.

Let’s start with the following comment from the Rt Rev Catherine Roskam, Suffragan Bishop of New York:

She said some of the 670 Anglican bishops gathered in Canterbury for the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference probably beat their wives, and added that it is difficult to discuss it with them because they do not believe it is wrong.

To which Chris Sugden’s reply is apropos:

He said her comments add to the fears of many Anglicans in Africa that they are “on trial” and “are not Anglican enough” for the liberal Western churches.

“It’s done in such a way as you can’t question it – nobody condones violence against women. But it’s put in a way as if it’s what ‘those people’ do.

“This is a further emergence of an approach that links Anglicanism with Western civilisation and a civilising mission, which is very unfortunate.”

On my Ten Weeks novel website, there’s a French Christian album whose title translates For what fills the heart will rise to the lips, the title from the words of Jesus himself (Matthew 12:34.)  It’s a cool album, and I’ll podcast it in due course, but that’s pretty much what Bishop Roskam has done here.  Given the fact that the U.S. has extensive domestic violence and the incarceration rate to prove it, if I were her I’d remember the following words of Jesus:

And why do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, while you pay no attention at all to the beam in yours? How will you say to your brother ‘Let me take out the straw from your eye,’ when all the time there is a beam in your own? Hypocrite! Take out the beam from your own eye first, and then you will see clearly how to take out the straw from your brother’s. (Matthew 7:3-5)

And that leads to this observation from The Living Church:

Bishop K.D. Daniel of East Kerala in the Church of South India (United) never wavered in his determination to the Lambeth Conference, but that does not mean he is happy with the situation in the Anglican Communion.

“The problem we are basically facing is a problem of America,” he said. “They want to push their problems on to other nations.”

Reappraisers in TEC are, in their swelling triumphalism, doing what they have spent the last half century accusing their conservative opponents of: spreading the image of “the ugly American.”  What they are doing is turning the whole conflict over human sexuality into a contest of national dominance.  But then again, elitist snobs are always best at one thing: making everyone else angry.

On a completely different subject, this from The Sola Panel:

And what has all this to do with GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures CONference?) Well, as I stood (and sang) shoulder to shoulder with charismatically inclined Anglicans from many different parts of the world, I couldn’t help noticing how naturally the African bishop next to me wore the ‘charismatic vibe’. He swayed and waved and sang with a huge smile on his face, and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Then there was the white charismatic guy in the row in front of me. He still looked like a goose.

The obvious but somewhat politically incorrect thought struck me: is it possible that classic ‘charismatic’ culture really is African culture? That the late 19th-century black holiness churches which gave birth to pentecostalism passed on to the 20th-century charismatic movement some of its cultural flavour? And that one of the reasons it all feels so strange to Aussies, and maybe less so to Americans, and probably even more so to Brits, is that it is just not us? We have our own ways of rejoicing and celebrating and expressing sincere gratitude. They are no less real or heartfelt or sincere. But they don’t usually involve repetitive singing, swaying, dancing and waving.

Maybe this is what we should learn from our joyous, uninhibited African brothers. Maybe we should feel free to be ourselves. And love it.


One Reply to “A Problem of America: For what fills the heart will rise to the lips, and Is Charismatic Culture African?”

  1. Your source on the “Sola Panel” scares the bejabbers out of me. A parallel statement would be, “This whole business of an opennesss to the Spirit of God is just not properly British, and as such I’m quite comfortable with the idea of maintaining my own withdrawn reserve as (at least) equally ‘spiritual!'”

    Perhaps this is why Cromwell’s Puritanism led to so much political bloodshed and persecutions while the Wesleyan Holiness movement transformed nations?


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