I would like to nominate J. K. Rowling as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Or perhaps the current Archbishop of Canterbury, if that can be arranged. I recognize that there are numerous obstacles to her consecration. The Church of England doesn’t yet consecrate women to the episcopacy. Rowling has not been ordained. For all I know, she may not even be an Anglican. But these are trifles when weighed against the opportunity for the Anglican Communion to get its hands on the one instrument that might help us make sense of where we stand in the wake of recent developments.
I speak, of course, of the Sorting Hat, the remarkable creation that assigns young newcomers to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to the proper “house.” We need the hat to tell us where to sit and who to hang out with, because all of the place cards at the Anglican party have been rearranged by Peeves, or the house elves.
Consider that just over a week ago, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, released a reflection in which he outlined plans for a new, two-tiered Anglican Communion with “constituent” and “associate” membership. The plan was portrayed in the media as a victory for conservatives within the Communion, and within the Episcopal Church because it was assumed that constituent membership would require liberal provinces to reverse course on homosexuality or risk marginalization.
Yet after the most recent missives from Nigeria (described in several posts below) it is clear that the province that most analysts proclaimed as the biggest “winner” under Williams’ proposal wants no part of it. Meanwhile the provinces that seemingly have the most to lose—the Episcopal Church, the Canadian Church and the province that includes New Zealand—have expressed a willingness to explore the Archbishop’s plan.
To complicate matters a bit, conservative Episcopalians endorsed the plan enthusiastically, then watched as Archbishops Akinola of Nigeria and Jensen of Sydney, two of their most influential allies, began issuing ultimatums designed to undermine it. The prospect of being the only Americans in the inner circle in Williams’ proposed arrangement was exciting. The prospect of being perhaps the smallest province in a breakaway movement led by Akinola may not seem so appealing.
Liberals, meanwhile, can’t agree on whether the plan is bad for our Church—because it might some day be excluded from the most important councils of the Communion—or good for our Church because we could maintain relationships with many of the same global partners without having to make compromises with conscience as we did at the General Convention last month.
It would, in these confusing circumstances, be a great blessing to have Dumbledore’s successor place the Sorting Hat on everyone’s heads, assign us all to houses, and then explain how all of our houses could contribute to the same school.
So who we write to about this? Tony Blair? Scholastic Press? Prince Charles? The Queen?
(Commenters who compare their theological opponents to “he who must not be named” will not be permitted to visit Hogsmeade for the remainder of term.)