Prolegomena to the Current Anglican Crisis

After a recent exchange on another blog, I’d like to address a few reasons why  reasserters and reappraisers do not understand each others’ arguments.  It seems to me that we see our current context with very different lenses, and thus our discussions easily veer off track.

What I’d like to offer are a series of broader issues, one that isn’t exhaustive,  that shape the conflict.  Perhaps by examining these descriptively, we can address our different prescriptions.

1.  A general crisis of authority.  Over the last 50 years, all our major institutions are not trusted by the laity.  There has been a crisis in the authority of scripture and the church.  This parallels a lack of trust in governments as well.

2. An alteration in the relationship between public and private.  Sex was once private, but is now ubiquitous, in part because it is used to sell products.  Public persons are not merely individuals representing institutions, but persons who’s private lives are also public.

3. The introduction of the market into institutions that had previously been sheltered from competition.  These include the church, social service organizations, and unions.

4. The immediacy of communication.  This undermines the virtues of reflection, prudence and even the Sabbath itself.  Videos and emails are exchanged quickly without consideration about their underlying meanings or the proper audience.   Although audiences are easily segmented, anyone can be a hearer, and may hear exactly the opposite of what the speaker intends.

5. The reconceptualization of place.  Cyberspace dictates the rules of civil engagement.  Geography has less of a hold on identity.  Much of our battle happens in cyberspace, and not in person.  However, it is still physical persons who make decisions and operate institutions.

6. The social engagement of more Americans with non-Christians.  This directly impacts how the average lay person thinks of heaven, hell and the uniqueness of Christian doctrine.

7. The diminishing consequences of sex outside of marriage.

8. The effect of capital upon churches and the liberation of desire for the sake of profit.

9.  Our lives and ideologies are generally fragmented, and we put them back together again sometimes in haphazard ways.

Until we can get an accurate description of our cultural context, it will be a challenge for us to even understand our proscriptions.

By and large, the progressive church has accepted the impact of liberal capitalism into the sphere of social relationships.  Some have some antagonism toward neo-liberal / libertarian economic policies, but by and large it accepts the colonial, bourgeois, world-view.   I am saying this as a description.

The conservatives generally accept, however, the place of the US as an empire, but are unwilling to adapt a pre-modern understanding of cosmology and the role of the church.

There seems to a be some link between social conservatism, political conservatism and theological conservatism, but I don’t think the links are intellectually necessary.   One can be a theological conservative and an economic progressive; a theological liberal and a libertarian or neo-conservative.  I can say that I share a cultural identity (bourgeois, private college, suburban/urban, Yankee) with people who call themselves “liberal.”  What that means on a daily basis changes.

You can have them…

I pity that the Roman Catholic Church gets burdened with Anglicans like this one.   Paranoid and a little bit batty.

A couple choice quotes:  “Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil, and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism.”

“feminism is intimately connected to witchcraft and satanism.”

The Sound of Music: It’s “pornographic soul-rotting slush… By putting friendliness and fun in the place of authority and rules, it invites disorder between parents and children.”

The authors of the article, however, make a mistake: none of these should be confused, however, with orthodoxy.  It’s straight up idiocy.

“I just want to know what it means!”

Perry Robinson, a philosopher in the Orthodox Church, wrote an interesting article Why I am Not an Episcopalian. It’s a fairly sharp response to an Episcopalian struggling with the trinity.

I sure hope that God will not judge me on my theology.  My faith is strong.  My belief system probably needs a little tinkering.   But I’ll still sing what the church says.

The general article, however, repeats the same tired analysis of why TEC is in such bad shape.  Admittedly, he’s amusing:  “TEC – “Don’t believe in that crap?  Neither do we” with KJS is in one photo.   But it is finally unenlightening (although true).

Yes, your average Episcopal priest isn’t a great expert in theology.   I wish more were familiar with the broad panentheism in the Orthodox tradition, and the deeper expressions of recent Catholic theology.  I wish priests were better able at explaining the relevance of the living God known through the Trinity.   When an Episcopal priest denies the atonement, discards the sacrificial language of the Eucharist, or explicitly avoids the readings of Revelation, I’m disturbed.  But Perry misreads the past and seems oblivious to our current context.  Bad theology didn’t simply drop into the Episcopal Church and cause it to go to hell. Continue reading ““I just want to know what it means!””

Where the Real Work Is

It’s one thing to elect a bishop. It’s another to house the homeless. Good for the Diocese of Long Island. Call me a cultural imperialist, but this seems a little more Christlike than, say, execution.

Link to a good site with crisp, charitable analysis, Box Turtle Bulletin.

The Manhattan Declaration

An obscurantist piece of theological and historical illiteracy, featuring a who’s who of the old time religion, including the man who wants to be the mostests, Fr. Duncan.

God Bless Them. May they be called to repentance.

Hugo says it’s cheap.

The Rev. Dr. Christian Troll is thinking strategically. Fr. Tobias would rather be in the Bronx.