The other night I was at a bar, thinking about my ex-girlfriend when I saw this really hot blond with legs that just wouldn’t stop.
She was dressed in a red cashmere sweater, had modest earrings that looked vaguely South Asian. A light patterned scarf from Hermes draped around her pearls, and wore a classy, tight, knee length skirt. Her legs indicated a discipline of tennis and running. She was drinking a Fuller’s London Pride: not a great brew in my book, given that there were so many great American Beers, but I knew her type.
I walked over to her. I’d been planning for this. I knew that even if we did decide to provide each other some mutual comfort only for the evening, we would have enough in common for a combative friendship. We could discuss pressing world issues like incense, the New Zealand Affirmation of Faith, and zuchettas. But if she were of the provincial variety, I’d have to start from the medieval perspective.
“So…. What do you think of this new Anglican Province?” I winked. She might get flustered, I figured, if she didn’t wasn’t one of those who took a dim view of same sex affection. Not just the sort that includes hand holding. Not merely a joint checking account. Not just sharing laundry or doing dishes. But affection with orifices and orgasms. In the orthodox view, orgasms are strictly for those within the property covenant.
She might respond with a casual, “I don’t know what they are thinking,” demonstrating sadness in the direction of the Episcopal Church, or “well, TEC will survive,” expressing hope in their magnanimity. Perhaps she would say, “It’s about time. I’m now going to attend church. I’ve been waiting for one that was led by Bishop Duncan, who can now properly be called a pope.” Relief that after years of being a wanderer, finally a conservative church which understood her liturgical tastes. There were gazillions of them, I know, waiting finally for the true church to unshackle itself from the rude heretics that made up The Organization that calls itself Episcopalian.
I was prepared to engage.
I continued, “Anglicans in North America. Can you dig it? Bishops. Lots of them. Getting it on with protecting Christian civilization from the gay people. Maintaining the FOD. That’s Faith Once Delivered. Foddites. The one true historical Christianity, the one that is the biggest and best of the many. Because if we won’t, who will? God? Who’s going to protect Him and the faith?” If she was sympathetic to my conservative Christian line, I was in. But I could play it off like a joke if I needed and she turned out to be a liturgical Unitarian.
She looked at me for minute as if I had been dropped off from another planet. A planet with only Lutherans who still insisted in doing the mass in Swedish. As if I’d argued that Anglo Catholicism was invented by closeted Gay Brits who shared a secret affinity for Oscar Wilde. She began to open her mouth when I said, “Don’t worry. We can still be friends, even if we don’t agree.”
She blinked a couple and said, “Excuse me, but what the fuck are you talking about?” I forgot that Anglicans sometimes use blue language.
I wondered, however, if I had her mistaken. Maybe she was a high class Methodist. One of those social justice types that occasionally did Zen, but whose parents had made enough money to send her to Kent School or St. Paul’s.
“You know, the new Province. Can you dig it? Purple shirts, getting together and not having gay sex. They look gay, but they aren’t. Very counter cultural. It’s the new reformation. With Africans. The press will pick it up. And then the millions of people, young and old, black and white, men and a few women, straights and closeted gays who’ve left the Episcopal church because of the out gay people who kill babies and deny Jesus, will finally have a home after living in the spiritual wasteland of the Terrorist Episcopal Church.
“The New province. You know what I’m talking about.”
She wasn’t buying my enthusiasm. Did I read her wrong?. She just stared at me, pretending she didn’t understand.
“What else could bring us together, babe? Finally, a real world issue. Gay sex. And brave, manly men like Bob Duncan, keeping the faith. The man was meant to be the pope the way Obama was meant to be president. He even has an American English-like accent.”
After a minute she raised her eyes, ready to tell me what I wanted to hear. She was truly a poster child for the new Anglicanism. Which means, she was smokin’. She raised her eyes to me said, “Is this a Real Life episode or something? Are there cameras nearby?”
“Come on, sweetie. You know why the church is dying. Liberalism. Humanism. Bishop Pike. I know you shudder when you think of him. Let’s just say later I’ll turn you on by calling him ‘heretic Pike.’”
“This is a little weird,” she giggled a bit. I guessed that “weird” was a secret code for Anglicans.
“Granted, the real problems happened with Women’s ordination, but we can gloss over the … problem of gender until the next time we meet with the Romans.” I hoped she wouldn’t tell me that the Roman Catholic Priesthood was the safest place for gay men.
“Look, I do find you kind of cute, but I have no fucking idea what you are talking about. Are you a religious freak?” At least she was smiling. She knew what I was talking about.
“Aren’t we all religious freaks? I know you have a thurible in your room and read the collected works of Richard Hooker every night. I know you have Robert Gagnon on your mind.”
“Robert Gagnon? Isn’t he a porn star?”
“Well, he knows a lot about gay sex. And where to find it in the bible.”
“I’ve never heard anyone use the bible and porn as a pick up line before. What’s a thurible?”
“You’re playing.” Or perhaps she was a low church evangelical. They’re passionate about what they believe, and get right to the point. None of this ritual gesture business. They say it when they mean it.
“Wait, weren’t you on American Idol?”
I knew she understood the connections. Pike. Women. The 1979 BCP. Spong. The Episcopal Church was dying because of them. “No. You watch?”
“Of course! Doesn’t everyone? Weekly.”
“It’s like church.” That might be the cue. I’d find out exactly where she stood. Would it be St Mary the Virgin, the Anglo Catholic church in Manhattan? She didn’t know the rector had gone Episcopal. Or All Angels, where Bishop Minns once preached the word? Or Church of the Resurrection? Or maybe it was that new little Anglican joint down in Midtown. I had to know.
“Church? You mean, like, uh, churchy church? Like God? Is that what you mean by the bible?”
“Yeah, baby. Churchy church. Without … heretics. Just as the bible says.” I let heretics slide out of my mouth slowly.
“Heretics, going to … hell.” I smiled, making eye contact. Eye contact is crucial for seducing Anglicans. “Or Apostates. Whatever turns you on.”
“Well,” her eyes kind of darted to the side, “I… believe in God, but, um, I just haven’t gotten around to it. Sometimes I watch Joel Osteen, late. But… this is very weird to talk about this at a bar. Why don’t you just ask me for my number.”
“Uh,” I was a bit flustered, taken aback by her directness. “OK.”
“But generally, don’t use the Anglican thing as a pickup line. Nobody cares.”
“I just thought…”
“Well, there’s so much harm done in the name of religion. It seems quaint and sometimes old-fashioned. Most services are boring. Old music and desperate people. Sad. It could be different, maybe. But now I just want to par-tay!” She shook her fist in the air just a little, as one of her friends looked over, checking to see if she needed protection.
“Look I’ll buy you a drink if you just tell me your denomination.”
She smiled. “Silly. I’m an Episcopalian. You don’t recognize me? I’m your senior warden’s daughter. Let’s do shots.”