Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Disingenuous twaddle

"Child raised by wolves." We all know the idea and there are stories. Well, in my case it was, "child raised among fundagelicals."

By the mercies of Godde there are also stories of those who have experienced their own exodus from Pharaoh's fulminating fruitcakes. And horror stories of those who did not make it out.

I was more than ready to leave my spiritual past. I hoped to take the best with me: being steeped in scripture, a love of storytelling, a message of grace, a message of God's love. I also hoped to leave the crazy behind: the paranoia, the literalness, the bibliolatry, the visceral fear and hatred of the other, the enforced uniformity, the anti-intellectualism, the platitudes that do not square with life as it is really lived, the coercion, the hatred of the world and the flesh while there is altogether too much fixation on the devil.

So I came to Anglicanism, as many do, as a "foreign" immigrant. I was not just fleeing from some things, I was joyously running toward historical rootedness, sacramental mystery, respect for individuals, celebration of history and embodiment, symbolic expression, etc.

It seems that many of the types who most lament the state of The Episcopal Church have come from traditions not unlike the one I left. But they brought the crazy with them. They have no idea that bibliolatry is not Anglican (or, to be more pointed, outright heretical) or that demanding everyone have the same experience or same beliefs is, well, coercive and disrespectful and almost certainly an anti-mark of the Spirit. If God did not make us all alike and the Spirit does not give us all the same gifts, then why would anyone conclude that God wants us all to think, teach, and worship alike?

The same sort of codswallop that infects our political discourse these days appears in our church as well.

The rector and vestry of a local church, that will go unnamed, has written to the standing committee. One paragraph:
For the last six years, Episcopalians in the Rio Grande have drawn comfort from the knowledge that, while the Episcopal Church believed that the Spirit was doing a new thing with respect to the sacrament of marriage, we were not. And while other bishops and dioceses in the Episcopal Church might believe otherwise, the Diocese of the Rio Grande confirmed the apostolic witness that "Jesus Christ died for you," and shared that Good News throughout our congregations every week.

Now, for the latter half of the paragraph, even folks like me who reject most Anselmian atonement theories still believe that Jesus Christ died for us and love to share Good News not only in our congregations but in the world where we live. I would say that it is more Good News that he rose from the dead for us than that he died for us, being the kind of guy who sides with the early Church on which side of the Paschal mystery to emphasize, but I still wonder where this putative divide exists.

As to the first half of the paragraph, I wonder how anyone but a drama queen could possibly claim to speak for Episcopalians in a diocese as diverse and sharply divided as this one.

Granted, this perspective is not that of one small enclave. An earlier bishop spend years poisoning this diocese. But no one can speak for all the Episcopalians of this or any diocese.

And I must say, monoliths are not healthy in any social body.

Alas, I am forced to conclude that the missive constitutes disingenuous twaddle.

Distortion, straw men, histrionic tone, and the most outrageous hyperbole make it difficult for me to judge otherwise. I do not speak for Episcopalians in general, for any body within this diocese or the one in which I am canonically resident, et cetera; only for myself.

Which leads us to today's phrase for popularizing:

I encourage its use, if only because there is so much of the stuff going about.

--the BB

* The lower illustration is from a manuscript illustrating the preaching of a crusade.

1 comment:

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Keep on keeping on!