Left to the Kingdom

The current issue of Commonweal magazine includes an article titled “Anglican Disunion” by Jack Miles, an Episcopalian and a member of the faculty at the University of California, Irvine. The article takes off from and deals extensively with a series of bulletin inserts that I wrote and that were distributed back in June. It’s a more hopeful article than the title would lead one to believe but I was struck by his analysis of Lambeth’s statements in the 20th century as “a long, slow walk to the left.” You can find the current issue of Commonweal on line by searching for “Commonweal.” My response is as follows:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your courtesy in sending me your issue of September 12 and the article by Jack Miles that drew extensively on my “capsule history” (if that’s not an oxymoron!) of the Lambeth Conference. I think his article provides a helpful perspective on what’s happening in the Anglican Communion and among American Episcopalians.

I would take issue however with Miles’ characterization of my summary of 20th century Conferences as “a long slow, walk to the left climaxed by a sudden lurch to the right.” I never intended to characterize it that way nor did I think of it that way. “Left” and “right” are political terms but Lambeth Conferences are attempting to articulate a vision of the Kingdom of God.

To hold that women have as much right to be ordained as men or that family planning is “a right and important factor in human life” seems to me to be part of the working out of Paul’s visionary statement that in Christ there is “neither male nor female” but a new creation. Is St. Paul a voice from the left?

Similarly, to think of American adoption of civil rights laws and social security legislation simply as moving to the left rather than a further living into the vision of the Founders of our country may be part of our current difficulty as a society. But if we do want to think of it that way, then it seems to me that moving to the left is moving toward the Kingdom and moving to the right is a response to the Anti-Christ.

As I say, I hadn’t thought of it that way. But maybe I should!

Christopher L. Webber

Leave a comment

Your comment