Sunday, 17 January 2016

Solving Problems

A customer has come unstuck with Windows 10 recently. The Start button/flag and search stopped working after an update. I went around and did various things to try to get Windows to repair itself; finally I tried the Deployment Imaging and Servicing Management (DISM) tool, rebooted, and Start was back.

A few days later there was another Windows update and the same thing happened, so the customer phoned me up to ask me to give her the dism command and entered it herself. It didn't work so she tried it a few more times, with variations, and got very frustrated when the computer started saying it didn't recognise what she was typing in.

Maybe you're familiar enough with computers to see that this approach to problem solving is unlikely to help. But typing stuff is a very recent approach to dealing with problems; in many older contexts trying variations, with some extra welly generated by frustration, works quite well. Consider nuts - of either variety. If you know how to crack a hazelnut and find yourself faced with a Brazil nut then different angles, hitting it with a bigger rock, and/or hitting it harder can all help; scale that up for walnuts and even coconuts. Likewise trying to get a rusted nut off a bolt.

Which brings me to the Anglican Communion and their recent Primates' Meeting. For at least twenty years left and right have been shouting at each other; when that doesn't work they try shouting louder.

This time around the US Episcopalian Church has been suspended from some theological decision making bodies; not directly because of same-sex marriage - although that's the obvious context - but because of making significant changes to their theology and practice without any sort of consensus or agreement across the wider Communion.

Unity is extremely important for the Anglican Church, so the US breaking unity that way is seen as serious, as is the risk of breaking the Anglican Communion up entirely. This slightly odd suspension should, I think, be seen as a way of maintaining unity and giving people a bit more time and space to find ways to work together, especially at the ground roots level where the Anglican Communion is actually mostly based.

Previously the US church has insisted it is being prophetic and 'showing leadership', but the result has been to split the North American Anglican Church and to threaten to split the Anglican Church worldwide. Leadership is only leadership if you take people with you, which the US Episcopalians have previously been incredibly bad at.

Neo-colonialism doesn't help of course.

However, I do see signs of hope in the latest responses from the US. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of Washington DC was on Radio 4's Sunday programme this morning. Alan Wilson's blog has a transcript.

Two things strike me about this. One is the sheer positivity of the current US leadership over the issue - currently no sign of any tit-for-tat ugliness - whilst holding true to what they believe the Bible to be saying to our 21st-Century societies. The second is the following:
"Our broader concern is for gay and lesbian people and members of churches around the world who are in a much more vulnerable place than any of us can imagine."
Leadership involves bringing people along with you. If the US Episcopalians had shown that sort of leadership twenty years ago maybe things would be less dire for so many people across the central belt of Africa at present.

Anglicanism isn't really about what leaders in big hats do and say; really it is about people worshipping God, in and out of church, all around the world, whilst welcoming, loving and working with one another. Whatever decisions the 'big beasts' come to in their political in-fighting, the scandal of LGBT+ rejection by churchgoers will only come to an end by people getting to know one another and learning to share Christ's welcome in Christ's communion.

Grace and peace for your week ahead.

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