Friday, December 01, 2006

The Latest Chapter of The Incredibly Shrinking Church

Mark Steyn, in a comparison of four women, excerpted part of an interview with the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church The New York Times.

Up to now, I have been avoiding looking too closely at the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Her predecessor famously said — several days after 9/11, in New York City, which is where these bishops “preside” – that he was “ashamed to be an American.” In other words, he got on the Leftie boat long before it pulled out of port. No doubt a number of his people died in the Towers. So given the drift of this ship called the Episcopal Church of the US, I didn’t figure the new captain would be any better than the old one.

Well, that’s what I get for reading Mark Steyn. His excerpt of Schori’s interview was so jaw-droppingly fascinating that I was compelled to google the original interview just to see her comments for myself.

The Presiding Bishop of ECUSAShe is even more extreme than his snip indicates, though he did manage to capture the essence of this newly elected Presiding Bishop. The choice of this particular person to lead this particular church at this particular time demonstrates to perfection how and why The Incredibly Shrinking Church is showing all the signs and smells of rigor mortis.

The Most Reverend Doctor has the rigidity and narrow viewpoint of many of the liberal Episcopalians I have met. She also has their narcissism; though her sentiments are disguised as an Al Goresque “concern for the earth” they betray a philosophy that aggrandizes the position of human beings in their potential to harm the earth just for being here. For Episcopalians, narcissism is not a characterological flaw, it’s a feature of the faith.

Here is the crux of Schori’s remarks, so full of hubris that even the interviewer was taken aback:

How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?

About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise [sic], but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.

Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.

Let’s fisk this gem. First of all, Episcopalians are better educated, and thus are wise enough not to have (m)any children — unlike the Catholics and the Mormons, tied as they are to their inferior theology and forced to procreate endlessly.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Second, a la the Greenies, Episcopalians are good stewards of the earth, procreating as little as possible so as to protect the globe from the ravages of — ugh — people… You know: those horrible bipeds who wreak havoc on Mother Nature.

Did you know she had a PhD in science? Let that be an example of why you ought to protect your children from postgraduate education: they stop thinking because they believe they already know.

Do read the whole interview. Watch her dismiss Christian fundamentalists as inferior beings – a softball thrown to her by the interviewer. Observe her condescending attitude. Especially note her claim that Episcopalians are “comprehensive.” That’s liberal code for “whatever.”

Here’s her knee-jerk take on Muslims:

Have you met Pope Benedict?

I have not. I think it would be really interesting.

He became embroiled in controversy this fall after suggesting that Muslims have a history of violence.

So do Christians! They have a terrible history. Look at history in the Dark Ages. Charlemagne converted whole tribes by the sword. I think Muslims are poorly understood by the West, and it is easy to latch onto that which we do not understand and demonize it.

This is pedestrian, predictable, and contradictory “thinking.” Schori had to go back to the Dark Ages, while stridently ignoring the new Dark Ages that will descend as long as people like her are running things. Is she so insular that she doesn’t know what Islamic fundamentalism does to women and children? Or does she not care? Maybe it’s not in her job description to look too closely.

Schori demonizes Christian fundamentalists for their scriptural beliefs, but the sizeable minority of global Islamajihadists who use their scripture not to talk, but to act, to kill infidels… well, they are passed over. The failure to address the daily acts of murder, rape, and mayhem against her fellow Christians is resoundingly loud. This kind of one-eyed perception is perfectly acceptable in the crowd she runs with, and anyone who raises legitimate questions about Islam is waved off as a “fundamentalist.” In case you didn’t notice, that’s the major mortal sin in the Episcopal Church. In the old days, the big sin was pride, but we have to move with the times.

This woman is supposedly a Christian. She says of herself that she likes to use “shalom” a lot. Yet her condescension and narrow point of view promote anything but peace. She waves her blunt sword of outdated multiculti ecclesiology and cuts off the heads of lesser beings.

Besides not procreating, the Episcopal Church doesn’t evangelize either, and for two reasons:

  • The conservatives are too ashamed to ask anyone to visit.
  • The liberals are too busy tearing down the ecclesia brick by brick to have time to do anything as tacky as proselytize.

This may be a fitting end to a church founded on King Henry VIII’s very human determination to play God and impregnate someone who could produce a son to inherit the throne. He failed in his quest, though he destroyed much of the religious culture of England in the process. He set his people against one another and left this conflict as a heritage to his daughters. Elizabeth I won, but at what cost to England’s strong spiritual life?

The mills of God grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small. They have now ground out Katharine Jefferts Schori, and there she stands, ready to do her part in bringing down the temple around her.

24 comments:

John said...

Very good post. One might think that as a gay man I would prefer the Episcopal Church but they'd be wrong. Faith is not a toy, not something subject to whim and fancy. Some may view Robinson's consecration as bishop in New Hampshire as a step forward but I do not. Forgiveness is certainly available for him as it is for all us but I fail to see why someone with his backround and theology should be held up as an exemplar because he is not in my view. This is not to say that I'm better but I am not seeking a bishop's mitre. We are all called to a higher standard, our leaders even more so.

What galled me about the whole mess was the deliberate and un-Christian attitude in thumbing their noses at their fellow believers. Where's the charity in their own actions that they demand from others? Yes, I pray that homosexuals can be truly accepted in the Church but such comes with love that Christ taught and not the hubris of this crowd. For an outsider, the ECUSA to me appears to be nothing more than a social club not a real church or somewhere to worship Christ. If anything, it places man above God and the worship is very narcissitic. Obviously not all Episcopalians are like this, perhaps not even a majority, but many of their leaders are. The demise of the ECUSA wouldn't bother me in the least.

benning said...

My, she's a real peach! But as long as she's superior, well ...

Sheesh!

J.Holyfen said...

At what cost to England's strong spiritual life? The answer to that is simple: the spiritual vigor flowed to the Puritan movement, manifesting itselt in John Bunyan, John Owen, Thomas Watson, and hundreds of others of unfortuantely forgotten theologians; the Puritans who took to sea and settled New England, and the Puritans like Oliver Cromwell who defeated the absolutist tendencies of Charles I, Laud, and Strafford, and last but not least, John Milton. The Puritan movement is the true antecedent to the United States, more so than Locke, and to the extent we can recover their strength adn their dedicated to civil liberty and lib erty of conscience (read Milton on this subject), the better we will be able to stand against and defeat the muslim scum.

Scott said...

I get my 'religion' via the TV. I started out years ago watching George Vandeman on "It is Written". I liked Vandeman. He was low key and made Christianity seem
at ease with the modern world. Then he was stabbed by his son.

Next came Jimmy Swaggart. Boy I really liked him. I still have a video tape of his "I'm Sick of It" sermon. Prancin and Dancin across the huge stage of his booming mega church in circa 1982 I seriously envisioned this man becoming president of the United States. Alas he did what most Democrats of presidential 'timber' do albeit just to 'look' but, if his wife and Jesus could forgive him, liberals would not and his ministry will never recover.

Now I find myself fascinated with BYU television and the Mormons. If
jazz is the American musical idiom surely the LDS are our religious equivalent. While I have some trouble with Moroni and the Book of Mormon being grafted onto the
Gospels that is because I wouldn't want someone adding new verse to
Chaucer even if it was good and true.

I like what the Mormons are and do. Their faith is not a pose or a relic but a living thing and as such it is neither hidebound or immutable. It is a positive force in their lives. Isn't that what religion is supposed to be?

Dymphna said...

John-

Gays are not the only ones who have to wrestle with the strictures of dogma. Fertile married couples have the same problem. Women who feel a vocation to the priesthood know that it is a call that cannot be answered.

Dogma/orthodoxy is temporal and open to change, but who knows how long that will take, or what cataclsyms will have to take place for that to happen.

The celibate clergy slowly came into being because the Church needed to hold onto property -- or so it thought.

And if you read Paul carefully, you see women in positions of authority...they had to be since they were often wealthy widows who came to spiritual decisions as a part of ageing...and they had the money to affect Paul's mission.

Of course, after generations, and en masse cultural conversions by rulers, the church began to resemble the world more and more. It still does today.

Someone said that theology always follows physics -- only it gets there much much later, usually after physics has moved on to a deeper layer.

The church is much bigger and wider than most people know (as if what is said in Washington is the sum of what goes on in America). The one thing we know about it for sure is that there is not one member who has no sorrow. It just depends on how we use our portion...

Zerosumgame said...

Dymphna:

IIRC, you are Episcopalian, correct? Have you given thought to switching to a less politically correct church?

In one sense, I am surprised that the Episcopal Church does not try to gain new adherents -- from people who are personally liberal, but belong to more conservative faiths -- liberal Catholics, for example.

Bilgeman said...

Dymphna:

"The celibate clergy slowly came into being because the Church needed to hold onto property -- or so it thought."

I have toured the Vatican, so I'm noy going to even attempt to argue THAT point. It would be ridiculous to do so.

But there are a few pragmatic reasons for a celibate clergy.

If you'll recall Scripture, it was the priestly class that was most threatened by Jesus' teachings.

In Judaism then, as now, becoming a Rabbi is as much a factor of heredity as it is of vocation:

"Levi, Cohen, or Israel?".

So the Christ was attacking the preachers and the keepers of the Temple...and that made him a threat
to "the Family Business".

And see how He ended up...

To avoid a repeat of such a phenomenon, which can also be observed today in many of our Protestant brethrens' ministries, where Preacher the father begats Preacher the son, and on and on,
Holy Mother Church decided that if you wanted to wear the Roman collar, you couldn't also wear the ring of matrimony.

You can't have a family business if you never have a family.

And yes, I reckon that keeping the property in the diocese certainly had a lot do with it also.

Regards;

Bilgeman said...

That was an interview in the New York Times?

I've seen more in-depth interviews in People Magazine!

And did anyone notice that nowhere was she asked, and neither did she offer, her qualifications as a theologian.

No seminary...no Bible college.

She studied Squid and Octopuses.
And now she's head of the Episcopalian Church?

Peculiar, no?

Regards;

Bill said...

Dymphna, my most sincere sympathies. Having been raised in the US Episcopal Church, to see it self-destruct is sad. And having no other real alternative (in emotional and ecclesiastical terms) presents an awful quandary.

The church of which I am a member,
the ELCA, is hardly better. However, the membership directs the bishops.

Bishop Hansen of the ELCA is hardly any less extreme than Dr. Schori.

BTW Superb choice of photo for Dr. Schori. It fits your description to a T. kl

Old Peculier said...

Well let's not go overboard praising the Puritans. The same who closed down the theatres and cancelled Christmas. Cakes and Ale, rule OK. Thank God for Charles II and Nell Gwynn and Shakespeare and Mrs Malaprop.

melonie said...

Whether or not you believe in an after life, the western-man-woman understand the importance of the earth and it's value. The WMW is a gift, but for some religions it is a mere stepping stone and has no other value other than that, not even for future generations (who may also have the opportunity for the afterlife). So, trash it, burn it, wage war on it, over populate it... t'is one of many differences. viva la difference.

Archonix said...

Cromwell, for all the good he appeared to do, was no better than the king he replaced. In fact it's entirely likely that the absolutism of Charles was on the road to being solved before Cromwell even got on the scene. It's quite telling that we invited the monarchy back after Cromwell in order to conclude proceedings that had begune prior to the civil war.

gun-totin-wacko said...

Wait, I don't understand this. She's proudly stating that her church is dying? My mind can only come up with 3 choices here: It's a parody (Is today December Fool's Day?), She's an agent of the Athiest Conspiracy, trying to destroy the Church, or SHE'S A COMPLETE MORON.

Hmmm. Wonder which explanation it is.

gun-totin-wacko said...

Okay, a friend hinted at a fourth possibilty. She's a Dhimmi wannabe.

J.Holyfen said...

Old Peculiar: The Puritans were a biggish group and included more than the shut-the-theater types. Perhaps educate yourself a smidgen and look beyond the image fed you by the Popular Culture. A good place to start would be Puritanism and Liberty. Or John Milton.

Archonix: "It's entirely likely the abslutism of Charles was being solved before Cromwell got on the scene" -- huh??? Whatever do they teach you in schools these days?

You can, like Peculiar, take the culture's portrayal hook, line, and sinker, or you can go back to the source and see what the Puritans themselves say. Which is what I've done, and here's how it nets out: no Puritanism, no capitalism, no individual liberty, no parliamentary democracy,

Dymphna said...

j holyfen--

The various sects that sprang up in England after the Restoration failed are somewhat confusing to me (as are the Great Awakenings in the US -- I think there were two in the early 18th century)...

However, are Quakers part of the Puritan movement? Because it was really their attitude in business that made capitalism possible. They outdid their competitors by being scrupulously honest-- a notion so revolutionary that in order to survive everyone else had to adopt it, too...or at least appear to do so.

I think Quakers jump-started modern capitalism, though of course the Jews preceded them. But as zero can tell you, the Jews never get any credit.

J.Holyfen said...

Dymphna, Quakers emerged during the Protectorate, and had its origins in the Puritan movement -- as did a puzzling variety of sects, from the Muggletonians and Fifth Monarchists to various Libertine crowds. Cromwell was friends with and an admirer of Fox. But the "capitalist tendency" within Puritanism can really be traced to the freeholders of East Anglia, who were influenced by Reformed refugees from Holland and France, as well as the merchants of London, radicals in both politics and religion, who largely underwrit the Parliament's capaign against Charles. (Charles had statist tendencies, in that he imposed monopolies on soap, coal, other things which pissed off the merchants no end.) Anyway, you might look at the chapter on Puritanism in Tawney's religion and the rise of Capitalism.

An fundamental tenet of the strain of Puritanism represented by Cromwell and Milton (the latter an admirer of Cromwell and Cromwell's latin secretary) and also Roger Williams, was liberty of conscience, ie, the "spirit blows where it wills." They thus rejected any attempt to set up a state church, or inquire too deeply into individual consciences. (Cromwell protected Fox from some of the more harder-line types that wanted a state church or standard of orthodoxy, and of course despised the Scotch Presbyterians for their desire to impose a presbyterian system on England -- to the mind of Cromwell and his crowd, not much better than popery or prelacy.)

My main point is, Puritanism is deep and broad, and it's a mistake to think they are all as depicted by Hawthorne. Some were, for sure,

Dymphna said...

j holyfen--

so go back to the "beginning": tell me about Cranmer..

Andre_Szara said...

"This woman is supposedly a Christian. She says of herself that she likes to use “shalom” a lot. Yet her condescension and narrow point of view promote anything but peace. She waves her blunt sword of outdated multiculti ecclesiology and cuts off the heads of lesser beings".

Dear Bishop Schori,

Please consider yourself to have received notice that use of "shalom" is reserved to Jews and those who respect Jews and give them a fair shake (for example, supporting Israel in Lebanon).

Pat Robinson: OK
Jerry Falwell: OK
Gates of Vienna: OK
You: not OK

Andre_Szara said...

Bilgeman,

You are mis-informed about Rabbis. The position of Rabbi is not hereditery. It has nothing to do with whether a Jew is born a Cohen, Levi or Israelite. In fact, many of the great Rabbis of the period close to the 2d Temple were from humble backgrounds or of non-Jewish ancestory.

Concering material wealth, Rabbi has never been a position to generate much of that. In fact, many of the Rabbis of that era earned their living through humble professions.

Dymphna said...

andre s--

I think the rise of a professional priesthood in any faith leads to a decline in vitality.

One of the things I like about the Episcopal clergy is that many of them had other professions first.

It's similar to my idea that politicians should not be elected to office until they have earned their living some other way for awhile. At least 15 years...that's why governors are more electable than senators.

Mr. Spog said...

Is it just my weird perception, or is Dr. Schori the, er, spitting image of Colonel Gaddafi of Libya?

Christopher+ said...

"She waves her blunt sword of outdated multiculti ecclesiology and cuts off the heads of lesser beings"

Christopher+ said...

I'll try this again.

"She waves her blunt sword of outdated multiculti ecclesiology and cuts off the heads of lesser beings"

Is this the image you had in mind?