So the sixteen-person committee that is trying to select Rowan Williams’s successor is stuck. It can’t make up its mind between:
* Bishop of Norwich Graham James, 61, a keen amateur actor and cricketer who said last week he would “hope and pray” someone else gets the job.
* Archbishop of York John Sentamu, 63, a Ugandan-born traditionalist who holds the second most senior post in the Church of England and writes a column for the Sun newspaper.
* Bishop of Durham Justin Welby, 56, a former oil industry executive who has been a bishop for less than a year.
It’s now saying the election of a new Archbishop may takes months. Good gravy, these Anglicans can’t pull their heads out of their own fundaments on a bet.
Here’s the solution (Man, do I absolutely have to do everything around here or what?): Throw Justin out. Bishop for less than a year? Oil tycoon. Trying to run the Anglican church like a business is like trying to run Italy like a business. Unless you intend to throw everyone out except the Milanese, good freaking luck.
So that leaves the traditionalist with ties to Africa, which has a growing — and orthodox — church, or the guy who played “Boatswain” in The Tempest last summer.
Of course, you go with the latter. The Ugandan’s a troublemaker.
First of all, James doesn’t want the gig, which makes him perfect for it: a man of little ambition who is just the right kind of underconfident. Humility is what this office needs. Humility and the ability to fake a smile and conjure up a tear and prove the rallying point for the troupe, forming the whole production into a work in several acts that tours the world to applause, everyone playing their assigned parts with just the right kind of feeling.
You see, the Anglican Communion will not be whipped into some kind of order by a by-the-BCP conservative. There are too many factions, high-church this and low-church that and broad church the other. It’s a work of art, and it needs a light touch, a certain finessing, a sensibility that understands balance and tone and poise. This has nothing to do with theology. The Anglicans don’t do theology anymore. Sure there was Millbank and Pickstock, but does that radical orthodoxy stuff still have much purchase, carry any currency, third financial metaphor? There’s the New Perspective on Paul, as if anyone can figure out what the hell Wright is trying to say. Luther got the Law business wrong, justification means you’re already in, but it’s not how you get in, Jesus is now the new King and Caesar isn’t, so get out of Afghanistan. Blah blah blah.
No, I think the Anglican Communion must be approached like a vast mosaic — or a salmagundi, if you will. A great big salad that needs just the right seasoning and tossing of the constituent elements so that all the different flavors combine in just such a way as not to produce flatulence. So a chef would have been a nice choice. Or a gastroenterologist.
They should look into that: a guy who knows his way around the transverse colon and who can cook up a nice paella and maybe played Puck or Lady Bracknell, but not More in A Man for All Seasons (they’ve lost enough players to Rome already) — and not Becket in T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, which would make him an insufferable bore. (The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason. Oh spare me…)
Our prayers are with the committee.