Wednesday, December 06, 2006

State of the Episcopal Church :: Diana Butler Bass

As noted below, Diana Butler Bass did an online Q&A at WaPo today. One really should just go read the whole Q&A. I give these quotes to encourage you to do so:
I can identify five distinct groups of Episcopalians.

Yes, there are two parties in tension: Old-line liberals and radicalized conservatives. This is the fight we most often read about in the media. However, you point out a third possibility, a centrist party that is trying to navigate between the two extremes (Bishop Peter Lee in VA would represent the centrists). From my own research, you are right. The extremes aren't the whole story.

However, there are two additional groups, and these two are far less noticed. I refer to these groups (they don't have a clear "party" identity) as "progressive pilgrims" and "emergent conservatives." These two groups tend to see "issues" like this one as secondary concerns to the practice of Christian faith and are more concerned with things like the practice of hospitality, living forgiveness, practicing reconciliation, learning to pray, feeding the hungry, caring for the environment, and maintaining the Anglican practice of comprehensiveness (being a church of the "middle way"). They may lean slightly left on slighty right on "issues," but reject partisan solutions to theological problems. Both progressive pilgrims and emergent conservatives are far more interested in unity than uniformity; and they appreciate diversity in their congregations as a sign of God's dream for humanity to live in peace.
. . .
The exact same parishes and dioceses who are stressed by +Gene's election were also extremely upset about the ordination of women in the 1970s.
. . .
I know that it may well be difficult for "old line liberals" to see that their views have had a hardening effect on the church. But, and I say this as someone who is deeply sympathetic with their position, I think that some policies and attitudes of my liberal friends have helped to make this situation worse than it may otherwise have been.

Liberalism does have the fundamental position that individuals should make up their own minds. But, on occasion, liberal enthusiasm (hubris, perhaps?) seems to others that people are free mostly to agree with liberals...

I think liberals need to examine this shortfall in their own spirituality honestly.

My favorite question:
Washington, D.C.: Ms. Bass,

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that Jesus covered all of this with one simple command: "Love thy neighbor as thyself." When I saw other denominations using theology to justify their bigotry, I was disgusted. Now when I see Episcopal churches doing the same I am truly saddened. It amazes me that there are Christians who really believe that if Jesus reappeared today and gave a sermon where he listed all the things that are wrong with our society, that gay bishops and priests would be No. 1 on his list.

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