My hatred for Virginia continues to grow strong. First, some personal history:
I was baptized Catholic. I went to a Catholic school. That's as far as my Catholic experience goes. Since I was a wee toddler, I was going to Episcopalian masses at St. Mary's Church in West Barnstable. I was confirmed Episcopalian. I was an Episcopalian acolyte. My first experiences with public oration came when I would read long Biblical passages for the Sunday morning mass. I met my first girlfriend through church. Our moms were Sunday school teachers. Norman Rockwell, eat your heart out.
Beyond personal history, St. Mary's was also featured in a few Kurt Vonnegut works. That's pretty sweet. Admit it. Like many disaffected high school and college students, Kurt Vonnegut was an absolute savior. Surely many of you feel the same way.
The church parking lot was the setting for a scene in his 1959 novel The Sirens of Titan. The first passage in Vonnegut's collection of short stories, Welcome to the Monkey House is titled "Where I Live." It's a short non-fiction story about how great Cape Cod is. I don't imagine it being very popular with the people who are annoyed by my insistence that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the bestest place ever. Regardless, I speak of the story with pride since it claims that the St. Mary's church garden is the most beautiful spot on Earth. What author can make a similar claim about a spot in Washington?
So, the general theme of all this is that I was raised Episcopalian and I love it. I'm not the best Christian anymore and I have almost completely stopped going to mass, but, damn it all, Episcopalians are the greatest. I have a vested interest in the strength of the Episcopal community.
Virginia doesn't. Virginia wants out. The Episcopalians in New England are too nice to the gays. Nothing riles up the Virginia folk more than being nice to the queers. It gets their blood boiling. The 2003 promotion of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, an unprecedented position for a gay man within the Church, was the last straw. Virginia will not stand for such tolerance!
Two Fairfax County congregations have certainly had enough. It looks like the Falls Church and Truro parishes are going to vote for secession from the American Episcopal community. Instead, these knuckleheads plan on becoming members of...wait for it....the Nigerian Episcopal community. It came down to whether Virginians would continue their long-standing intolerance of gays or their long-standing intolerance of blacks. Congratulations blacks, you're off the hatred hook.
It's probably very comforting to these Virginian Episcopalians that Nigerian Archbishop Peter J. Akinola is pretty tough on homosexuals in Africa:
...there are questions about a suburban Washington congregation technically under the leadership of Akinola, who has supported a new Nigerian law that penalizes gay activity, whether private or "a public show of same sex amorous relationship," with jail time.
Um. What? That's some Taliban-esque shit right there. Actually, to be fair, the Parable where all the gays are incarcerated has always been my favorite. Fuck the Prodigal Son. Many Biblical historians believe that Jesus himself went door-to-door in Galilee to speak of the homosexual threat.
"They're in our schools and in our churches and they will convert your children," spoke Jesus of Galilee on the Sabbath.
The irony is, I kind of agree with the Virginians that having a homosexual bishop might not be theologically sound.* Of course, throwing gays in jail isn't theologically sound either. And it's not like a bishop in New Hampshire is going to have any effect on Virginia parishioners. Those parishes are like night-and-day. That's one of the things I like about Episcopalians. There are liberal branches and conservative branches, but they're still united for social justice. But now Virginia doesn't want a part of that. They'd rather blindly hate gay people. The gay bogeyman is their new serpent in Eden.
I mentioned the Prodigal Son earlier. Much like the the titular character of this parable, Virginia has lost its way. If these parishes do indeed decide to hitch their wagon to the Nigerian Church, I guess I have to wish them the best of luck. But when they come crawling back, I'd like to think that, much like Jesus's teaching, the Virginia congregations would be welcomed back with open arms. It's the Christian thing to do. Hopefully Falls Church and Truro will live by that example.
*I'd love to debate this in the comments. Hopefully with other Protestants. I'm really on the fence about it and would love to hear what others think.