Thursday, June 24, 2010

Barbed wire and the Anglican Covenant

I've been thinking about barbed wire.

Barbed wire is mean stuff, meant to control and punish.

Invented in the late 1800s, it's a simple thing, just two strands of wire twisted with sharp barbs spaced along it. Any person or animal trying to get through barbed wire is punished with painful cuts as the barbs slice skin and hide.

Prior to its advent, everyone had free access to the range. Native Americans, poor farmers and ranchers could graze their few head of cattle alongside the hundreds of head of wealthier ranchers. Barbed-wire ended that.

I began thinking about barbed wire while contemplating a piece of sculpture we have in our garden. For several days now, it has been haunting me. I mean, it's been there for years. I see it nearly every day. But just recently I found myself coming back to it again and again, sitting and staring at it as the song of the cicadas splintered the hot June air.

The piece was created by a TCU art student in the late 1960s who, sadly, did not sign it. Two bronze doves are imprisoned in rings of barbed wire. One dove's wing has been pierced by the sharp wire. Rust has stained the wing, looking like dried blood.

Still, it tries to fly.

But the dove is trapped and cannot take wing.

And I know this is exactly what the proposed Anglican Covenant will do to the Anglican Communion.

It seeks to wrap rings of bureaucratic barbed wire around the Holy Spirit, imprisoning the Spirit in processes of discipline designed to enforce unanimity of theology, of interpretation of Scripture, and who knows what else.

It is a document born out of fear that seeks to force an institutional solution onto a relational problem. It is designed to control and punish.

We are meant to be creatures of hope, not fear. Amid all the other challenges of reconciling the world to God through Christ, why on earth would we want to put this Covenant between us and the Holy Spirit?


Leonard said...

You know what happens when non-swimmers fall into the deep end of the pool/pond?

They grab, they gasp, they flap and scream-out sputtering, grabbing, clutching, shouting as madness sets in...that is what the Global South/Gafcon and now the Archbishop of Canterbury/York are doing as they are way òut over their heads...they are terrified and swim against the current and sink down into the instability of terror and shrieking...they insist and demand rigid deceiving will save their lives and keep all of us afloat...they attempt to grab onto real swimmers and drag us down, down, down to keep their own selfgrieving/selfdeceiving overblown egos and disbeliving alive...there is nowhere to hide from the sink or swim reality in order to stay alive...I think God wants us ALL to learn how to swim downstream.

Lisa Fox said...

This is poetry, Katie. Thank you.

Caminante said...

This is the strongest yet most perceptive comment about what the covenant will do to the Holy Spirit. Thank you for making the analogy, as painful as it is.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I'm thinking I might send a link to my Bishop.

Br. John-Anthony, OSB

Brother David said...

Powerful imagery.

Unknown said...

Such a metaphor! Powerful!

Muthah+ said...

Katie, thanks ever so much for this post. It is OH SO Texan! The barbed wire image is powerful enough but the sculpture makes it awesome.

Also congratulations on your election as deputy. I am so glad you will be representing us as we deliberate the Anglican Covenant.

June Butler said...

Katie, this is powerful! And so right as a metaphor for what the Anglican Daft Covenant will do to the Anglican Communion. Unfortunately, the covenant is more than daft. It is dangerous.

Anonymous said...

As a member of General Synod I hope that you will all pray for us as we debate this tomorrow. Mark