Thursday, May 7, 2009

From the Outside in, or Vice Versa?

How Others See the Episcopal Church (USA):

An Anglican priest, a Muslim and a Zen Buddhist walk into a bar. The bartender says, "What can I get you, lady?"

Anglican jokes, like Anglicans, aren’t something you run across too often. That’s too bad, because there’s a rich vein of absurdity to be mined in the Church of the Frozen Chosen.
Thus Toronto writer Nancy Gall opens her recent piece, "Ecumenism Gone Wild", in the Holy Post, the religion blog of Canada's Daily Post. The "Church of the Frozen Chosen" is explained elsewhere this way: "Where the Lord warms your heart---but only a little bit." Ms. Gall continues:
Take Reverend Ann Holmes Redding — or just plain Ann as she’ll soon be, having been deposed as an Episcopalian priest for declining to stop being a Muslim. Ms. Redding, a priest of 20 years standing and the director of faith formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, WA., saw no reason to turn in her white collar when she found herself drawn to Islam in 2006. Given a year or so to think it over, the “Islamopalian,” as she’s known in the hillbilly encampments of the Anglican blogosphere, was finally deposed by her bishop earlier this month when she refused to disavow her dual religious identity.

“I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I’m both an American of African descent and a woman,” she told the Seattle Times in June, 2007. “I’m 100% both.”
"Church of the Frozen Chosen," "Islamopalian"---the epithets just ask to be invented, given that the subject is religion as witnessed by today's Episcopal Church. First, of course, comes its current leaning toward Zen Buddhism:
In another instance of ecumenism gone wild, Reverend Kevin G. Thew Forrester, Bishop-Elect for the Episcopalian diocese of North Michigan, stirred things up a bit when it was revealed that he replaced an Epistle reading during a Sunday service with a passage from the Koran. Who needs the Christocentric ramblings of crabby old St. Paul when you can have selections from the holy book of a faith which denies the divinity of Jesus? The Reverend attains a new level of spiritual incoherence with the revelation that he’s also a Zen Buddhist — the "G" in his name stands for "Genpo," the name he took at his Buddhist lay ordination.
Ms. Gall is just warming up here. The current examples of leadership which ECUSA furnishes are, as Ms. Gall notes, indeed a very rich vein to mine:
Last but not least are the — er, what should we call them — Anglican Aztecs? How about Anglican servants of Molech? For this bunch, the charism of child sacrifice must be unchained from the Israeli apartheid wall of neo-colonial misogynistic repression. (Thank you, Anglican homiletics random phrase generator!)

“Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done." This is the inspiration soon to be on offer from the new dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Harvard. Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, former chair of the pro-abortion Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights (RCRC) and NARAL Pro-Choice America, was the unanimous choice of the board to head EDS.
But the Reverend Ragsdale was apparently not the first to proclaim abortion as a "blessing": 
Ms. Ragsdale’s 2007 “abortion is a blessing” sermon puts me in mind of a hair-raising essay which made the rounds of the Anglican blogosphere a couple of years ago. Reverend Anne Fowler, another RCRC gal, wrote about the abortion she was proud to have while she was studying to become a priest in the Episcopal Church. “The timing was wrong, the man was wrong,” she writes. “I have not the slightest regret.”

Episcopalian blogger Christopher Johnson put it best: “(Abortion) made the life of this woman easier, therefore it was ‘morally correct.’… Her ‘deity’ seems to be nothing more than a heavenly notary public, stamping his/her seal on anything Ms. Fowler decides is right.”
Ms. Gall quotes a prominent Catholic blogger on Episcopalians, and then gives her peroration:
As Daily Telegraph blogger Damian Thompson writes, “Liberal Anglicans in America are among the most fervent supporters of abortion in the world, outstripping even atheists in their enthusiasm for this grisly procedure.”

Liberal Anglicans, who would probably agree with Thompson’s assessment, have a smug little saying about their Church. Unlike denominations in which adherents actually have to hold a specific set of beliefs (I’m lookin’ at you, Benedict XVI), the Anglican Church is the one “where you don’t have to check your brains at the door.” Obviously that’s because someone might eat them.

How the Episcopal Church (USA) Sees Others:

I found the foregoing piece instructive on how an outsider views the Episcopal Church (USA)---for it is totally an American phenomenon, and should not be allowed to hide behind the eponymous acronym "TEC". I had noted it and filed it, but then was reminded of it when I came across this post this morning by an Episcopal insider. The contrast between how those leading ECUSA's activist agenda see the rest of the Anglican world, and how other churchgoers see them, could not be more striking. Read Jim Naughton's piece, which he calls "An un-askable question?", in its entirety:


the Anglican Consultative Council decides tomorrow to endorse an unamended version of the proposed Anglican Covenant and send it to the provinces for approval without removing loopholes that would allow individual dioceses and schismatic Episcopal churches to sign on

And if:

the ACC endorses the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group, thereby enacting what amount to open-ended moratoria on the authorization of rites of blessing for same-sex relationships and the consecration of partnered gay bishops


the question of whether the Episcopal Church should withdraw from the Anglican Communion be discussed in polite company, or will those who raise it continue to be treated as zealots?


do we assume that the issue of whether our Church should belong to an organization that preserves its unity by discriminating against gay and lesbian Christians is so far out of bounds that our leaders won't examine it in public?
The solipsism of the viewpoint reflected here is simply breathtaking. For Mr. Naughton and his ilk, the unity of the Episcopal Church is maintained by its crusade on behalf of gays and lesbians (and soon, apparently, bisexuals and transgendered persons as well). The unity of the rest of the Anglican Communion, however, is maintained "by discriminating" against such persons. (Never mind Scripture, this is about politics. Whoever said a church has to be about Scripture?)

The self-centeredness of Mr. Naughton's view is such that he cannot even answer his own question. Let me invoke Father Conger to do it for him:
The spat over the seating of a delegate from the Church of Uganda to ACC-14 in Kingston has dashed the hopes of the Archbishop of Canterbury for his speedy reconciliation with the estranged Anglican Churches of Africa.

The May 1 decision by the Joint Standing Committee to reject the credentials of the Rev. Philip Ashey as a clergy delegate from Uganda, has outraged the Ugandan Church, but also served to solidify pan-African solidarity and strengthen the global south bloc of delegates to the May 2-12 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica.
. . .

While the absence of Uganda’s clerical delegate may have achieved a short term victory for the Episcopal Church in its fight with the breakaway groups in the US, and deprived the conservative bloc of one vote in Kingston, it appears to have solidified the Global South delegates, and at this point in the proceedings, strengthened their resolve to resist any watering down of the Covenant or undue extension of time to permit its ratification.
By all the accounts I have read, the seating of Uganda's chosen delegate, the Rev. Phil Ashey, was not a problem for the ACC until a certain member of the Joint Standing Committee got wind of it. BabyBlue, who is on the scene, reports that (emphasis added): 
Sources say that the complaint against the Church of Uganda's delegate came personally from Katharine Jefferts Schori, who sits on the Joint Standing Committee.
Just who is doing the discriminating here, Mr. Naughton? You evidently equate the call to an episcopacy with a political and civil right that cannot be denied (for sound scriptural reasons) without it being "discrimination." But to deny a member church of the Anglican Consultative Council the right to choose its own delegates---oh no, that's certainly not discrimination, by any stretch of the word.

Not quite a year ago, Mr. Naughton, you had occasion to observe about the processes of the Anglican Communion: "This is the feudal morality—lords making decisions for their vassals." 

Lords and vassals, indeed. (I guess it's all right when your representative plays the "lord".) 

You reap what you sow, Mr. Naughton. 


  1. Dear Mr. Haley,

    I must congratulate you on accurately identifying the ultimate inconsistency of the representatives of religious progressivism in the Episcopal Church, referring particlarly to the example provided by Mr. Naughton. He, like so many of his ilk, very much call to mind the old canard about the logical inconsistency of the solipsist who authors a book or article to air his opinions. ;-)

    And yet, he (and they) continue to engage in the same behaviors while fully expecting a different result. It is a truly pitiable situation.

    Blessings and regards,
    Keith Töpfer

  2. My presbyterian friend claims he belongs to the frozen chosen because they do not perform the Episcopal calesthenics. And then there is the question of predestination...