1.10.2007

For the Last Time, I Don't Want "New Blogger"

So, Blogger took down all of its "old" blogs yesterday for "maintenance." Clearly, they were trying to strong-arm hold-outs such as myself into using their new Blogger software. No dice. I am far too lazy to make the switch and to start "tagging" posts. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Well, I said that I wanted to tackle the editorial in Monday's Post regarding the Virginia Episcopal schism. I'm not going to let technical difficulties get in the way of writing something that absolutely no one wants to read. So, here goes.

I made the stupid comment on Monday that the editorial made some valid points regarding the theological shift in the American Episcopal Church. I obviously didn't read the piece very closely, because this editorial is void of reason, common sense, and evidence. The editorial uses the same debate technique beloved by social conservatives everywhere: the building of straw men.

To wit:

The core issue for us is theological: the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. It is thus a matter of faithfulness to the lordship of Jesus, whom we worship and follow. The American Episcopal Church no longer believes the historic, orthodox Christian faith common to all believers. Some leaders expressly deny the central articles of the faith -- saying that traditional theism is "dead," the incarnation is "nonsense," the resurrection of Jesus is a fiction, the understanding of the cross is "a barbarous idea," the Bible is "pure propaganda" and so on. Others simply say the creed as poetry or with their fingers crossed.

Um, ok. Some people who call themselves Episcopalian may very believe that the resurrection is a fiction and that the Bible is pure propaganda. Of course, they wouldn't really be Episcopalians, would they? Despite the liberal tendencies of this denomination, the belief that Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins is still a central aspect of the Church. To attribute the denial of these beliefs to "some leaders" is both irresponsible and ridiculous. If the authors are unable to identify the very people who are denying the central articles of Christian faith, perhaps they shouldn't be so rash as to leave the church altogether.

First, Episcopal revisionism abandons the fidelity of faith. The Hebrew scriptures link matters of truth to a relationship with God. They speak of apostasy as adultery -- a form of betrayal as treacherous as a husband cheating on his wife.

Ok. Again, I don't think Episcopal leaders are denying Christian faith. Our leaders aren't modern day Simon Peters; denying a relationship with Christ three times before the rooster crows.

Second, Episcopal revisionism negates the authority of faith. The "sola scriptura" ("by the scriptures alone") doctrine of the Reformation church has been abandoned for the "sola cultura" (by the culture alone) way of the modern church. No longer under authority, the Episcopal Church today is either its own authority or finds its authority in the shifting winds of intellectual and social fashion -- which is to say it has no authority.

Yes, Scripture is pretty unambiguous when it comes to the acceptance of homosexuality in culture. So what? I find it absolutely ludicrous that the Episcopal Church can be accused of ignoring Scripture in favor of contemporary culture when every Christian in America, even the born-again ones, do the same thing. I'm willing to bet that there are all sorts of things mentioned as sins in Leviticus that are accepted by the authors of this editorial. For all I know, the authors celebrated this editorial with a big heaping pile of shellfish. That's a Leviticus no-no. Perhaps the authors had sex with their wives when they were on the rag. That's another no-no. I'm also guessing that they've never sold an adulteress into slavery. The picking and choosing of Scripture to obey has been going for about forever. There's no need to freak out because one "sin" becoming more acceptable is particularly icky to straight men.

Third, Episcopal revisionism severs the continuity of faith. Cutting itself off from the universal faith that spans the centuries and the continents, it becomes culturally captive to one culture and one time. While professing tolerance and inclusiveness, certain Episcopal attitudes toward fellow believers around the world, who make up a majority of the Anglican family, have been arrogant and even racist.

I was taught in fifth grade that starting paragraphs with "first," "second," and so on was considered poor writing.

Also, WHAT THE FUCK. This paragraph is shit-house crazy. How the fuck are Episcopalians racist? Explain yourself!

Fourth, Episcopal revisionism destroys...

Wait! No! You're not going to accuse the Episcopal Church of racism and then drop it without a shred of evidence, are you!? Wow. Not even an anecdote? Something!? Ugh. Fine. Keep going. Assholes.

Fourth, Episcopal revisionism destroys the credibility of faith. There is so little that is distinctively Christian left in the theology of some Episcopal leaders, such as the former bishop of Newark, that a skeptic can say, as Oscar Wilde said to a cleric of his time, "I not only follow you, I precede you." It is no accident that orthodox churches are growing and that almost all the great converts to the Christian faith in the past century, such as G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, have been attracted to full-blooded orthodoxy, not to revisionism. The prospect for the Episcopal Church, already evident in many dioceses, is inevitable withering and decline.

The irony of Virginia Episcopalians quoting noted homosexual Oscar Wilde is duly noted. Also, "the former bishop of Newark" is as close to anything remotely resembling evidence in this editorial.

Fifth, Episcopal revisionism obliterates the very identity of faith. When the great truths of the Bible and the creeds are abandoned and there is no limit to what can be believed in their place, then the point is reached when there is little identifiably Christian in Episcopal revisionism. Would that Episcopal leaders showed the same zeal for their faith that they do for their property. If the present decline continues, all that will remain of a once strong church will be empty buildings, kept going by the finances, though not the faith, of the fathers.

Again, I must accuse the authors of over-inflating the specter of "Episcopal revisionism." Episcopalians recite the Nicene Creed and the Lord's Prayer without any reservations or crossed fingers. I honestly think the authors have confused the Episcopal Church with Unitarian Universalism which is more political movement than religion and whose members can believe whatever the Hell they want.*

I'm sorry, but I don't buy what they're selling. Their claims that their schism is less about homosexual bishops and more about theology is weakened by the fact that they chose someone who advocates the incarceration of gays as their new fearless leader. And the claims that Episcopalians are no longer Christian are totally unfounded. The same pillars of faith exist in the Church. If you're unfamiliar with it, I urge you to click on that link to the Nicene Creed. It's a straight forward declaration of Episcopal faith. This declaration in undeniably Christian and leaves little room for ambiguity.

The authors have reinvented the American Episcopal Church as a secular, racist organization. They've built their straw man without any need for evidence. They should be ashamed of themselves.

*I am being glib about Unitarian Universalism, so I should note that I have no problem with it. Any belief system that urges its members to become better, more accepting people is alright by me. It's just not a religion is all.

27 comments:

  1. So are you saying that even Jesus hates DC too?

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  2. I am saying that Virginia Episcopalians who voted to leave the American Episcopal Church are bad writers and worse debaters.

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  3. LincolnparkerJanuary 10, 2007

    So a group of people I don't care about decided to disaffiliate themselves from a church to which I don't belong.

    Not exactly a Tuesday night takedown.

    Can we go back to making fun of Congressional interns hanging out at the Hawk 'N Dove with their badges on full display?

    I know, I know, it's your blog and all that. Still . . .

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  4. First, Rusty, you're a racist.

    Two, the fact that "First" is there PROVES that you're a racist.

    Tertiarily, as Oscar Wilde once said, "Rusty's a total, total fag."

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  5. This entire post just screams "VIRGIN!"

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  6. Recently, I've been concerning myself with the internal politics of a litte known minority political party in Iran.

    I'm hanging on pins and needles to see the outcome of their recent no-confidence vote on the party speaker, Muhammmed al Muckrakerish. The Iranian blogosphere be going nuts on this!

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  7. "I am saying that Virginia Episcopalians who voted to leave the American Episcopal Church are bad writers and worse debaters."

    So. How does this concern the other 99.99999999999999999999999999999999% of the world? WHO CARES?

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  8. I really think you should apologize to readers for this one.

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  9. I also warned ya'll that I'd be writing this on Monday. Let's not act too surprised here.

    I also know that no one cares. Sorry, but I felt the need to write a response to the editorial.

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  10. i liked this post. its a response to an article that is an issue int he world today and there's no problem with that. its in VA, so that's its (sort of ) relevance, and even if youd ont believe that, who cares? its an issue in the media right now. and its a perfect example of how the psychos of the country are going even further off the deep end. i'm not a religious person at all, but i still think this stuff is interesting -- just because its not in your direct life doesnt mean it doesnt affect you.

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  11. lincolnparkerJanuary 10, 2007

    Actually, I'm going to go out on a limb and say, yeah, this really doesn't affect me.

    Not at all.

    Those Anglicans could pass a resolution against chewing gum and I would only care slightly more about that than I do this, seeing as how I like gum and all.

    Of course if Rusty thinks it's interesting, by all means blog away.

    But not everything the media decides to talk about is relevant to my life.

    And although I love criticizing others and promoting my own opinions, other people/groups are free to associate with whomever they like.

    Not everything that happens in this world, happens to you personally.

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  12. You are absolutely right. I don't expect people to care. Hell, I'm an Episcopalian and I'll admit that the Virginia secession has no real effect on my life.

    I just wanted to make sure someone called them on their bullshit.

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  13. I thought the post was excellent.

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  14. Amen, Rusty.
    Exactly.
    Thank you.
    One small, very small point: the business with that Nigerian bishop and imprisoning homosexuals has become a little bit of a strawman itself. Prison is actually a compromise with some of his Muslim countrymen, who would have homosexuals stoned to death. See? It's virtually gay-friendly in Nigerian terms.
    Except, of course, that that's the point-- Nigerian terms don't mean anything in Falls Church, VA. Except, I guess, that racism is apparently a less significant bigotry than homophobia or sexism. Remember, the gay bishop may have gotten them started, but these folks didn't get REALLY serious until there was a woman -- that's right, with NO PENIS -- as presiding bishop.

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  15. You're totally right.

    I understand the Nigerian imprisonment thing is a compromise, but, it's not really a compromise that any serious American Christian would want to be a part of.

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  16. that was an absolutely brilliant rebuttal to that piece-of-crap "editorial."

    i'm an episcopalian and as I read that b.s., I kept waiting for the EVIDENCE, the ANECDOTE, ANYTHING, throw me a bone, will ya? But no, nothing. Thanks for calling them on it.

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  17. Okay, here goes...

    "Some people who call themselves Episcopalian may very believe that the resurrection is a fiction and that the Bible is pure propaganda. Of course, they wouldn't really be Episcopalians, would they? Despite the liberal tendencies of this denomination, the belief that Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins is still a central aspect of the Church."

    You'd be suprised that quite a few Episcopal bishops fit in that category. Including the Presiding bishop who goes to great pains to say that Jesus is *a* way, *a* truth, and *a* life, (not "the" way, etc.) and does not believe that "no one gets to the father except through the son." Which may be a lot of things, but it isn't what most folks think of as "Christian."

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  18. I hadn't heard anything about that. If she is really switching articles, that's ridiculous.

    Still, she's only presiding bishop for nine years. Virginia could just wait it out.

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  19. Re: the Blogger thing. I too have been holding out and am wondering if and when they make us switch. I hate tags!

    I skipped the rest of the post, thanks for the headsup! :)

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  20. re: Old blogs...I'm using the old timey one and mine is still up. Hmm...I'll have to keep an eye out though, thanks for the heads up.

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  21. Rusty,

    As other people have noted, this is your blog. Don't apologize for what you say in it. People are allowed to disagree with you or your subject matter, but you need not question it. Stand behind what you say. The assholes who constantly berate you in the comment section, tell them they can read other blogs if they don't like yours. Or tell them they can write their own. Honestly. It's getting a little out of hand...

    As far as your response to this rhetorically unimpressive article goes, it was brilliant. It reminds me of the episode on "The West Wing" in which President Barlet said [to the pompous reporter who refused to stand when he entered the room]: "I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7...She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, and always clears the table when it is her turn. What would a good price for her be? While you're thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2, clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important, cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a
    dead pig makes us unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington
    Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be
    together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn
    my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?"

    You have to love the religious right; without them, we'd have little else to laugh/talk about.

    -Anon.

    PS: I am shocked by the ignorant individuals who inadvertently said that subjects must be relevant to their lives in order to be interesting and/or worthy of intelligent conversation. We are OBVIOUSLY not friends...

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  22. I used to use the two-threaded clothing argument a lot in Catholic school. A nun pointed said that Leviticus said homosexuality was sinful. I pointed out that our school uniforms were made from a poly-cotton blend.

    Nuns hated me in 8th grade.

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  23. i switched to new blogger about a month or two ago ... tags aren't mandatory, it's just an option. i don't tag my entries and don't plan on it.

    besides logging into blogger with an email address instead of a user ID, i see no real differences. well, bad ones. one that i do like is the fact that it doesn't take forever to publish posts or republish the blog after you've made changes to your template.

    wow, that's the most techie thing i've ever written!

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  24. Hm. I'm not really sure why I feel compelled to respond to juvenile banter (perhaps you all actually know each other?), but fwiw:

    The leadership of the Falls Church, when referring to "The Episcopal Church's" theology, are addressing subjects that the bishops (those would be the people who have the authority to dictate what individual churches in their states preach, as well as who the pastors are) from around the country have discussed and agreed to during the General Conventions held every year. Specifically, that would be the refusal to affirm "the Authority of Scripture" (that means they don't give a shit about what the Bible says... including that homosexuality is actually a sin, and that if a person decides to intentionally pursue sin he or she should not be in a leadership role. Duh.). For more information, see http://www.episcopalchurch.org/67608_ENG_HTM.htm
    Also, The Falls Church doesn't have a problem with the fact that the presiding bishop is a woman. This is where reactionist assumptions become a serious problem (i.e., you hear that TFC doesn't like her: you assume it's because she's a woman, because that's what you think of the "religious right"). Here's the real reason The Falls Church doesn't like her: Time Magazine interviewed her and asked the question, “Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?” She said, “We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.” Then, she was interviewed by NPR. The NPR interviewer said to her, "I read that [Time interview] and I said, "What are you: a Unitarian?!? What are you – that is another concern for people, because, they say Scripture says that Jesus says he was The Light and The Way and the only way to God the Father." She said, "Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. That is not to say Muslims or Sikhs (or others) come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through human experience, through human experience of the divine. Christians talk about that in terms of Jesus." And so the NPR interviewer said, "So you’re saying there are other ways to God." And she said, "Human communities have always searched for relationship which is beyond them with the ultimate, with the divine. For Christians, we say that our route to God is through Jesus." She hesitates, "That doesn’t mean that a Hindu…" she hesitates, "doesn’t experience God except through Jesus. It says that Hindus and people of other faith traditions approach God through their own cultural context. They relate to God, they experience God in human relationships as well as ones that transcend human relationships and Christian would say those are our experiences of Jesus, of God through the experience of Jesus." The interviewer said, "It sounds like you’re saying it’s like a parallel reality, but in another culture and language." And she said, "I think that’s accurate. I think that’s accurate."

    Does knowing any of those background bits alter the way you read the statement by Yates and Guiness? For future reference, a little personal research to find real answers to your questions goes a LONG way in an attempt to return America to an intelligent society.

    (By the way, I am certain that John Yates and Os Guiness would welcome the opportunity to debate with you if you find yourself in Falls Church, VA: www.thefallschurch.org)

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  25. Anyone who resorts to quoting Martin Luther in an effort to prove his Anglican orthodoxy hasn't been paying attention. Thomas Cranmer is rolling over in his grave.

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  26. Hi Rusty. You said: "Yes, Scripture is pretty unambiguous when it comes to the acceptance of homosexuality in culture. So what? ... I'm willing to bet that there are all sorts of things mentioned as sins in Leviticus that are accepted by the authors of this editorial."
    To begin with if you don't care what the Bible does or doesn't condemn, why do you even claim to be a Christian? As for Leviticus, the New Testament clearly states that after Christ's resurrection, we are freed from keeping the Jewish law. Thus, asking questions about selling daughters into slavery, eating pork, etc. does not hold water for Christians. Finally, homosexuality is condemned in the New Testament. Curiously, Jesus never speaks of it specifically. However, Paul mentions it as a sin several times in his letters. As for the curious racism remark in the article upon which you were commenting, I don't get what they are talking about.

    Best wishes.

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  27. I dunno if most of this has been said, but the code of Leviticus is traditionally thought of as having been done away with following Christ's death on the cross. (Colossians 2:14 or thereabouts). As for other condemnations of homosexuality, they're fairly nebulous, particularly in the most oft-cited "condemnation", Romans 2. At least, I think it's Romans 2.

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