15.4.11

Orwell and the Anglican Covenant - an aside



I am working my way through the Church Times Guide to the Covenant to begin with. I am interested in the analysis of the Covenant on the last few pages of the pull out guide from the March 18th edition of the newspaper. All was going well. Many of the comments analysing the language of the Covenant seemed fair until they began to bring George Orwell into their analysis.

About 4.2.5     ...
The Standing Committee may request a Church to defer a controversial action. If a Church declines to defer such action, the Standing Committee may recommend to any Instrument of Communion relational consequences which may specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument
until the completion of the process set out below.

...the analysts write:



"Relational consequences" George Orwell writes in his  1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” that ugly English often cloaks ugly purposes. “Political dialects . . .are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech . . . simplify your English [and] when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.”

...so how would this sound simplified, do you think? I guess I see what the person is getting at but is it not a little cynical? I am unsure yet, until I start the next lot of reading around the Covenant.

I looked at Orwell's essay, just to see what other interesting things he had to say and I did rather enjoy this:


He says, 'I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.'

At least, I am reminded that we are dealing with language of an exquisite kind and how we might best live in light of it. So far, I do not have a cynical attitude towards the Covenant. I might change my mind after my eight days of reading and writing is up, and I still have many of the opinions you have notified me here about to catch up on. In some ways, I am glad college make me do this work, without the compelling deadline, I doubt I would be spending seven hours a day for the next eight days considering all this.

Emmms


  1. ...thinking so far... is in terms of my bemusement as to why a diocese would want to enter into something which could ultimately result in them having any power taken away from them, regarding the contribution they might make. It is almost as if failure to behave results in the possibility of being silenced. Would this not result in a kind of homogeneous group of Covenant-assenting dioceses. Where then is the diversity in unity? I am interested in thinking through what might happen to those dioceses who do not sign the Covenant.
  2. (4.2.9) is a worry about each church undertaking to put into place agencies or institutions, consistent with its own Constitution and Canons, as can undertake to oversee the maintenance of the affirmations and commitments of the Covenant in the life of that Church, and to relate to the Instruments of Communion on matters pertinent to the Covenant. Isn't this just going to mean more bureaucracy and meetings and paperwork?
How much is the Covenant a covenant in the biblical sense of the word which Brueggemann describes thus in The Bible Makes Sense, p. 10: ‘an enduring commitment by God and his people based on mutual vows of loyalty and mutual obligation through which both parties have their lives radically affected and empowered’?




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