Over on the Comment Is Free group blog, Guardian columnist Andrew Brown issues a challenge to the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of Akinola’s call to boycott Lambeth: Stand up for yourself, Rowan.
Taken at face value, this suggests that he and all his bishops will boycott the whole conference unless their invasion of the US is ratified by Dr Williams. There is no doubt that Akinola thinks of himself as the true leader of the Anglican communion, and Dr Williams as a pathetic post-colonial relic. Although Dr Akinola has several times trembled on the brink of marching right out of the Anglican communion, he has not so far had to choose whether this is what he really wants. “He [Williams] will do whatever we tell him to”, he was overheard telling one of his advisers at an earlier meeting; but this arrogance is what Dr Williams is banking on. If there is a long-term plan to hold the Anglican churches more or less together, it is based on the belief that most of them would much rather not be led by Dr Williams than by whipped about by Dr Akinola.
But is there such a plan at all? Or is the simple explanation for this subtle man the right one? This is the question the Nigerian boycott threat will answer. Now that the threat has been made, it can’t be withdrawn without someone backing down; in Dr Akinola’s eyes, the obvious someone will be Dr Williams. There are 14 months before the conference; 14 months in which every effort possible will be made to bully him out of his original decision.
Dr Williams caved in over Jeffrey John in July 2003, nearly four years ago; we will find out soon enough if he has learned anything from the experience. If he has not, and if he caves in once more, no one will ever listen to him again. Why should we care what he believes about anything if we know he won’t stand up for it?