30.7.08

Dividing psychologies

Nathan Humphrey of Washington, DC, United States makes some salient and precise points about the conflict in our communion, he reflects on 'European culture, which focused on the "intensification" of relationships over time in a given place, versus American culture, which focused on the "extensification" of people through westward expansion in the 19th century, and how that frontier spirit has been ingrained in American culture.'
He continues with -

It struck me then that our American brand of Anglicanism in The Episcopal Church focuses on the "extensification" of Anglican identity through inclusion of the marginalized, through valuing tolerance and diversity.

Other brands of Anglicanism, however, value intensification--strengthening the bonds that already exist, not in an "exclusive" way, necessarily, but sometimes the net effect can feel or come across as pretty exclusive.

So it seems to me that, in part, the reaction to The Episcopal Church's efforts at extensification is an intensification that seems to some like a circling of the wagons, a turning inward in self-protection, while from the perspective of those doing the intensification, it is a matter of gaining clarity on one's core identity.

In short, extensification and intensification are two ways of "doing church," each with its own positive and negative aspects. My question is: can one intensify existing relationships while at the same time extensifying oneself in authentic ways so that new relationships are established? Legitimate extensification, after all, is evangelism. Legitimate intensification is edification. We need both, and we need to do both in responsible ways that put our relationships with each other through Christ at the heart of all we do and all we are.

You can read about his other ideas here, particularly interesting is the fact that he had already proposed similar points to those we have recently heard being promoted by the Windsor Continuation group.

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