INDIANAPOLIS, IN: GC2012 - The Episcopal Church Invokes Mary, is Anyone Fooled?
By Michael Heidt in Indianapolis
July 6, 2012
Anyone familiar with worship at the Episcopal Church's General Conventions might be forgiven for expecting a lack of Christian symbolism in worship. An Egyptian Ankh, or Eye of Horus? Perhaps; maybe even a rainbow surmounted labyrinth surrounded by Islamic and Hindu texts, or a mandala of neo-pagan provenance. But something unambiguously, traditionally Christian, like a crucifix, or an image of Christ? Unlikely and not here.
With that in mind, this year's Episcopal Conventioneers might have been in for something of a surprise when they entered the Great Ballroom of the Marriot hotel in downtown Indianapolis for Eucharistic worship. For there, looming large above a block-like minimalist altar, hung the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary...and not just any image.
This is an enormous and powerful representation of an original icon given to Grand Duke Yury Dolgoruky of Kiev by Patriarch Luke Chrysoberges of Constantinople in 1131. It depicts Mary, Theotokos, Mother of God, looking out on the world with Byzantine nobility as she holds the infant Christ.
The use of the image is deliberate and stated in the Convention's order of service, "The backdrop is also a reminder that we are a people who celebrate and honor our past. The familiar icon speaks to the value of tradition."
There it is, the Episcopal Church honors its past and values tradition, the tradition, in this instance, being the virginity of Mary in giving miraculous birth to the Incarnate Word made Flesh, the eternal Logos who became a man that we might share in the divine nature. The Episcopal Church (TEC) honors this, apparently, and with it the virtues personified in Mary - purity, obedience, faith, to name several. TEC tells us it's honoring all of this, really? Really? How?
Remember, this is a Convention that looks ready to pass liturgies for same-sex blessings, where lesbianism and homosexuality are celebrated with pansexualism being thoroughly out of the proverbial closet. Let's not forget this Convention also plays host to "Transepiscopal" and gender neutral bathrooms. This is a Convention where the noted lesbian Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS), Katherine Ragsdale, holds court in the Exhibit Hall, the same Dean who declared, "Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done."
All of this, and far more, counts for TEC as valuing tradition, but what tradition? Certainly not the Christian one, which states, unequivocally, that sexual relations are between a man and a woman in the context of lifelong marriage. So much for valuing tradition and honoring the past in this generation of the once respected and once growing Episcopal Church. This has been jettisoned along with growth, as TEC has shrunk by 47% in as many years, in favor of a radical gospel of inclusion and gender-political advocacy and the secular objectives of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.
To return to the image in question, the famous 12th Century icon of Our Lady. She stands for purity, faith and obedience; it's hard to see how TEC, by even the wildest swing of imagination, can count those qualities as its own.
It is precisely the lack of those very qualities which has pushed the Anglican Communion into de facto schism as TEC repeatedly pushes the envelope of a secular gospel that is anything but centered on the revealed Word of God made Flesh.
This 77th General Convention has not deviated from the Episcopal Church's man-made, United Nations ratified program. If anything, it has accelerated the progress as the boom of Title IV deposition lowers over the heads of its few remaining orthodox bishops.
The Mother of Our Lord may hang over the altar of the TEC's hierarchs in Indianapolis, but let's not pretend she looks down with anything approaching approval.
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