VIEWPOINTS FROM DAR ES SALAAM
By David W. Virtue in Dar es Salaam
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
About 20 miles from downtown Dar es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania, the sprawling White Sands Hotel lies on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Like its namesake it is "dar es salaam", an "abode of peace."
Inside the hotel, it is anything but. At the plush end of the hotel, 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion have been sequestered to consider weighty matters regarding the Anglican Communion and its possible future as a single, viable entity.
Nearer the entrance to the hotel, in the tourist section, some twenty-five media - radio, TV, print and Internet writers - are holed up waiting to hear what wisdom might emerge from the Supreme Club of Purple, as they contemplate the future of the Anglican Communion.
It is a waiting game as reporters, commentators, Anglican thinkers, and assorted Bloggers hunker down, waiting for the afternoon briefing.
The clamp down on information leaks is total. Some media claim the ability to text message a favorite Primate, but, to date, nothing startling has been revealed by those allegedly in the know. A private security force of police stand ready with billy clubs to make sure that no one crosses an invisible line to secure information otherwise not available to the media masses.
In a note of irony, the press office is also off limits to the press. It is surrounded by Anglican Communion News Service personnel with red ID badges and stern expressions. Members of the Episcopal News Service share the indignities the rest of the hoi polloi, as they themselves are similarly excluded -- an indignity Episcopalians regard as extreme. In spite of all this, Communications Director James Rosenthal has been quite accommodating to visiting members of the press and readily answers the phone in the news room.
The weather is hot but not unbearable. Bottled water is consumed by the gallon in upper 80-degree heat. Air conditioning is minimal. The Indian Ocean is very warm; the sands hot underfoot.
From a strict media perspective, the news has been anything but exciting. Most of the media came expecting a blood bath with revisionist and orthodox body parts splattered on conference walls as Primates fired ecclesiastical, biblical and theological bullets at each other.
It has not happened. Politeness has ruled the day. Anglicans, at heart, don't like war; they prefer gin and tonics before a lavish English dinner complete with expensive wines followed by Evening Prayer and a good night's sleep.
The Anglican Way is that of obsessive civility, and despite a lot of blustering and posturing, everyone is doing their best to be polite and amiable.
The only surprise attack was a salvo, fired by seven Primates over the invisible wall of steel into the province of Nigeria website, saying that they had refused to participate in the daily Eucharist with the Primate of the Episcopal Church because of that Church's recent sexuality views that are at variance with them and some 30 million Anglicans.
To date that has been the only real surprise. Will there be more? Time will tell.
The Windsor Report has dominated the lofty minds of their Purple Highnesses. The first day revealed that the Episcopal Church had been given a pass on two out of the three issues: the issue of a moratorium on the consecration of homosexual bishops, and the call for "regret" for straining the bonds of affection for the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, now Bishop of New Hampshire. The requirements of a third Windsor demand, a moratorium on the approval and conduct of same sex unions was ruled "insufficient" by the Primates, and their official response to the Episcopal Church awaits official formulation, at the time of this writing.
Today's digest will fill in all the blanks with hard news and commentary, much of it written by my colleague Canon J. Gary L'Hommedieu. We are working as a team to bring you all the news that's fit to print.
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David W. Virtue DD
On the Mainline
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