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By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Dec 17, 2006

The NYT's Laurie Goodstein has an article on the travel of free mercury in the bottom of the wobbly Anglican saucer, with speculation on whether any of the quiverings can be called schism yet. It makes an attempt at even-handedness but, like the dog in Proverbs, returneth all-too-predictably to its own vomit:

In Virginia, the two large churches are voting on whether they want to report to the powerful archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant.

Not buying it. Those sound less like actual provisions of proposed legislation than worst-case entailments which its opponents would have us believe will follow its passage. Then too, how did Goodstein chance to come upon this particular detail? It's possible that Nigerian parliamentary social policy happens to be among her personal hobbies, but more likely, methinks, that Goodstein was fed this material by Akinola's enemies in order to discredit the wing of Anglicanism he champions. If we let this pass, can't we, for the sake of fairness, level the playing field? That means tagging Akinola's progressive counterpart, not with her stated convictions, but with the less-savory consequences that her adversaries imagine to be entailed by those convictions. Let's run Goodstein's paragraph through the political symmetry engine:

In Virginia, the two large churches are voting on whether they want to continue to report to the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, an outspoken proponent of homosexuality who supports an ecclesiology that would permit the Bishop of New Hampshire to gomorrhaize his significant other on the centre court at Wimbledon surrounded by the Kings College Chapel Choir singing "On, Wisconsin!"

See what I mean? It's scrupulously accurate as far as it goes, but it's not what we'd call journalism. One might further point out that it doesn't conduce to a tranquil, objective examination of the issues that the Virginia vestrymen are wrestling with, but the truth is that on this score it'd be considerably nearer the mark than Goodstein's own reference to Nigerian restaurant demeanor. That said, the schism motive -- that which the Virginians want to cut themselves off from -- has never been much in doubt; Goodstein fails to ask what, in their own words, they want to be connected to.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Gil125 - Dec. 17, 2006 8:22 PM ET USA

    Euclid, they would, I'm sure, be happy to learn it for the occasion. Diogenes, since when do we expect honest, fair, balanced coverage of religion (or much of anything else) from the NYTimes?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 17, 2006 6:09 PM ET USA

    If the text of the proposed Nigerian legislation that I've found on the web is accurate, Goodstein is not far from wrong -- African society as a whole has traditionally condemned and criminalized homosexuality and its various manifestations, so the legislation, if passed, would only codify societal moral codes that have not changed. Ironically, the impetus behind the legislation, and Akinola's support for its provisions, may be to prevent the Anglican "church" from forming a LGBT chapter there.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 17, 2006 2:36 PM ET USA

    I didn't know the King's College Choir knew "On, Wisconsin."

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