Petulance doesn’t pay

For about the last five years (even though it seems like 100), Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh has been fuming about Lambeth and how certain bishops shouldn’t come. He and his conservative friends have been demanding all sorts of things. “If THEY are present, we will not be there.” Then they went and created Gaffe-con, as the alternative anti-Lambeth.

I gather that these extremists were hoping that Archbishop Rowan Williams would…do what? Did they think that Williams would cancel Lambeth? Were they hoping that Williams would tell Americans and Canadians to stay home? What was the point of the almost nonstop petulant behavior?

Fortunately, Williams has done the correct thing. He has rejected extremist demands, and Lambeth will proceed. Bishops of all stripes (with a few noted exceptions) are invited. Calmer thinking prevailed. On the American side, there were some demands to boycott Lambeth because Bishop Gene Robinson wasn’t invited. That idea has passed. On the African side, there was Gaffe-con. That idea is real — that a cost of millions, I’m sure — but it will be a sideshow to the real event.

So in any event, Duncan has backed himself into a corner. He no longer has much credibility with ECUSA, after blowing off the House of Bishops too many times. He seems to have lost some credibility with extremists in the US, because he hasn’t outright rejected ECUSA (and his pension) yet. He must look like a bit of a pouty child to Lambeth Palace, so there probably isn’t too much credibility there either.

When a whining child makes demands, good parents ignore them. You wait until the whining stops and the reasonable questions begin. Petulance doesn’t pay off, whether with four year-olds, teenagers, or cranky bishops.

I’m glad Bishop Duncan is going to Lambeth. I’m glad liberal American and Canadian bishops are going to Lambeth. I suspect Archbishop Peter Akinola will show up too (he’s never one to miss the spotlight). Maybe someone will put them all in a room and ask them to talk with one another. Imagine! Wouldn’t it be grand if bishops gathered to show…unity.

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