Poetry

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Waiting for the
Lambeth Commission Report
by Lionel E. Deimel

 

Commissioners, at length, have done their job

Of weighing words of Bishops Frank and Bob,

Of asking how we all can get along

When many primates think their colleagues wrong.

A thankless task the panel undertook—

To mediate our nasty donnybrook,

Embarking on what seemed a futile quest

To reconcile the Global South and West.

Although they asked that everyone refrain

From actions that might cause their brothers pain,

No side a moratorium declared—

More words and acts our fellowship impaired.

But now, at last, analysis is done,

And Robin Eames’s rest is fairly won.

While Rowan Williams ponders what to do,

ECUSA’s left to wonder if it’s through.

But neither are conservatives assured

That orthodoxy's ox will not be skewered.

So Anglicans in every land await

Disclosure of our recommended fate.

But, rest assured, God slumbers not, nor sleeps,

And while we fight, the Holy Spirit weeps.

 

 

Anglican Communion compass rose   Anglican Communion compass rose   Anglican Communion compass rose

I worry sometimes about writing poems with a very short shelf life. This poem is a reflection on the brief period between the time, at the end of September, when the Lambeth Commission on Communion delivered its report to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and October 18, 2004, when the Commission’s report on how the Anglican Communion could maintain its integrity in the face of conflicts such as the current one about homosexuality, was to be released to the public. I wrote the poem between October 4 and October 6, 2004, and I was in a hurry to post it before the unique period of suspense had passed.

Not until December did I consider revisions. I then made a number of mostly small changes. I also rewrote lines 7 and 8, which were simply defective. In context, they read:

A thankless task it was they undertook—

To mediate our nasty donnybrook

And find a road that leads us to a place

Of maximum communion apace.

The original first line was “The LCC, at length, has done its job.” This line scanned satisfactorily, but it had two problems, only one of which I recognized when I wrote it. “LCC” stands for “Lambeth Commission on Communion,” but I was uncomfortable with the fact that no one actually called the Commission by that acronym. The other problem was more subtle: who were the “they” in line 9 and, as originally written, line 5? The answer, of course, was “members of the Lambeth Commission,” but, syntactically, no legitimate antecedent was in sight. (“LCC,” of course, was singular.) The present first line provides a proper antecedent and eliminates the idiosyncratic reference to the Commission, though at the cost of naming the Commission only in the title. This seemed a reasonable compromise.

Some explanations are in order for those who are not intimately familiar with recent developments in Anglicanism. Frank and Bob are bishops of the Episcopal Church. Frank is Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. Bob is Bishop of Pittsburgh and Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes Robert Duncan. The primates are the heads of the Anglican provinces, which are national or regional churches. Bishop Duncan and his allies talk frequently about the “Global South,” conservative provinces of Africa, South America, and South Asia. Archbishop Robin Eames chaired the Commission. ECUSA—pronounce it as a word, not as a sequence of letters—is an acronym sometimes used to refer to the Episcopal Church (“Episcopal Church, USA”). God and the Holy Spirit, I assume, need no introduction.

The ending of this poem, which was the hardest part to write, was inspired by Psalm 121.

— LED, 12/11/2004

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