The horse might die

Two US bishops had to go to Kenya to be consecrated, because they felt that their local Anglican church was too liberal.

The two new bishops promised to “serve the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, to serve clergy and congregations in North America under the Kenyan jurisdiction”.

That is probably going to be a bit difficult to put into practice. What are the international interests of the Church of Kenya. then? They seem to focus on not ordaining gay clergy in America. Which seems odd because you’d imagine Kenya had its own problems.

All the same, there’s something vaguely impressive in realising that homophobia is so much stronger than xenophobia in some Americans that they’ll hand control of their Church to a place that barely one in 50 Americans could find on a map.

No less an Anglican churchman than Desmond Tutu finds this identification of the African church’s main interest with opposition to gay clergy absurd.

He told the BBC World Service in May that the debate on gay clergy and same-sex marriages had become “an extraordinary obsession” for Anglicans.
The Church, he said, had “been fiddling whilst, as it were, our Rome was burning, at a time when our continent has been groaning under the burden of HIV/Aids, of corruption.”

It doesn’t seem to just be the African Anglican Churches that have this “extraordinary obsession.” A February meeting of the world’s Anglican archbishops, held in Tanzania, gave the US church until 30 September to stop ordaining gay bishops. Or else. (Or else what? The alternative seems to involve splitting the Anglican community.)

The Archbishop of Canterbury claimed to believe this demand would solve the matter.

He admitted the communique would “certainly fall very short of resolving all the disputes”, but said it would “provide a way of moving forward with dignity”.

Well, obviously, he means solving it/moving forward with dignity in the same way that I “solve” most of my problems – putting them off till a future date that will obviously never come….. 30 September, which is all of, oh, 29 days away now, by my reckoning.

I think the Archbishop of Canterbury may therefore possibly share my taste for my favourite religious parable as a guide for life. This is taken from my distant memory of reading the Idries Shah retelling of the Tales of Mullah Nasruddin. Nasruddin is a sort of Muslim trickster figure.

The Shah is impressed with Nasruddin’s magical capacities. He asks Nasruddin to teach his favourite horse to fly. Nasruddin promises to do that and says he’ll take the horse, teach him to fly and will come back in a year.

His friend says “Are you mad to agree to this? He’ll put you to death when he finds out you’ve tricked him.”

Nasruddin says “But it’s a year away. In that time, anything could happen. The Shah might die. Or I might die. Or the horse might die..”

The Archbishop obviously thought this anti-gay clergy horse would die between 20 February and 30 September. But instead, it’s racing (yes, I am dragging a lame metaphor to death) around the planet looking for other bigots.

Totally unconnected aside.

My other favourite Mullah Nasruddin story. (I’m going to have to elaborate some details here. It’s years since I’ve read this.)

Every day or so Nasruddin crosses the border between two countries. He’s leading a donkey that carries two panniers.

The customs guards know he’s up to something illicit. Every time he passes, the customs men take off the bags and pull the straw to bits, searching for whatever contraband he’s smuggling. Nasruddin always stands there looking smug. They have to let him go.

One day, after he’s crossed the border, he tells the customs guards that they won’t be seeing him any more because he’s made his money and is retiring from smuggling.

One guard begs Nasruddin to tell him what he managed to get through the border and how he’s managed to get the better of them every time.

“Well,” says the Mullah. “I was smuggling donkeys.”

(Don’t ask me what the religious moral of these stories is. I can’t even begin to guess. )