FROM MY EAR TO YOUR EAR (2)
By David W. Virtue in Salt Lake City
June 27, 2015
By any standard it is a subdued convention. The homosexuals and their acolytes have won the culture wars on sex in TEC, in the name of equality of course, so there are no floor fights or tantrums to be had or drum rolls to be heard. The corridors are mostly quiet and even the Integrity booth normally manned by strident pansexual activists is oddly quiet. There is the sense that the few remaining orthodox bishops and deputies there are merely tokens in the face of an overwhelming pansexual landslide. The Communion Partner bishops (the loyal opposition) are all but finished.
Bishop Gene Robinson is here, of course, grinning from ear to ear, his divorce from his homosexual partner now just another statistic duly noted by whatever government agency keeps these statistics. Celebrating this week's SCOTUS win on gay marriage might be a cause for rejoicing, but be careful what you rejoice for. Opposition to Roe v. Wade is still alive and well.
Above all there is no shame; it has been turned into capital, because it is like money on the ground. We Americans who are orthodox are made to feel shame for not buying into it. Anybody can manipulate us now, it is the tail wagging the dog. There is no antidote for shame because there is no sacrifice for shame, no antidote for guilt. We are lost and with the Supreme Court decision to force gay marriage on America we will, like Rome, continue our decline and ultimate fall.
What does concern them is the issue of alcohol and what took place in Maryland recently when the suffragan bishop, one Heather Cooke ran down and killed a cyclist while drunk and texting, briefly fled the scene, and only returned under pressure from her bishop Eugene Sutton. She has since been defrocked.
In committee meetings, Episcopal leaders discussed updating the denomination's guidance on alcohol use and abuse, which hasn't been changed since 1985. Those guidelines suggest clergy and lay people educate themselves on pastoral support for substance abusers in the church, encourage moderate consumption of alcohol, and suggest providing both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages at parish events.
"Thirty years has passed. There are certainly new discoveries, new understandings in the field of addiction," said the Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, the convention voting body for clergy and lay people. Jennings, who formed the special convention committee on substance abuse, said the review could also look at "how we might approach our selection and recruitment and formation of leaders."
The Diocese of Maryland acknowledged it knew of an earlier drunken driving charge against Cook when she was being considered for the position of second-ranked local bishop, but did not disclose the information to church members before they voted to elect her.
A Special Legislative Committee on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse passed a resolution calling on oversight bodies to ask candidates for ordination about their substance abuse. But a committee member and alcoholic in recovery questioned how much good such a practice would do.
"The last person who's going to tell you he has a drinking problem is a drunk," said retired Bishop Gene Robinson. "I'm speaking from experience. ... I'm not sure that just addressing this with the people themselves is going to get the results that we're looking for." Of course not. Why talk about a problem when you can face a court after you have killed somebody. It's a bit late then.
Walking into the Salt Palace, I saw the Rev. Susan Russell, arch lesbian and hater of all things orthodox, clapping and singing "walking in the light of the Lord' with a group of men and women, the closest thing, I suppose, to a victory roll. One merciful exclusion is the absence of special trannie toilets to contend with that were so visible in Indianapolis at that General Convention, which presumably means that the six or so transgendered priests are having to choose "men" or "women" toilets. The palace is huge so one could find a fairly distant loo where one can perform one's ablutions without interruption and without indicating if you are a he or she.
It never occurred to anyone, even to the dwindling orthodox minority, to wonder about the odd question that arose yesterday in the walkabout concerning the resurrection. Did the candidates believe in it? They did with Bishop Dabney Smith replying with a simple YES to resounding applause. Now the deeper question is, why was the question even asked in the first place! Every time the church says the creed, it affirms the resurrection. My thinking is that because Jefferts Schori could not affirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus, someone wanted to know if any or all of the wannabes followed in her footsteps. Apparently not. That anyone had to even ask the question goes to show how far down in the swamp TEC has sunk. Can you imagine anyone of the cardinals in Rome being asked, "Now before we elect you Pope, Francis, can you affirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus?"
Listening to Gay Jennings, HOD, one senses a hollowness about her prognostications. She wants us to put aside all talk of Millennials leaving or not going to church while focusing on what exactly, we are not really told. It's all about inclusion, justice, and mercy. If we open the doors to LGBTQ and the unbaptized, the crowds will flock in. If it is accommodation to the world on gay marriage, then there is the hope that the floodgates will open and people will return to the Church. Not going to happen. What word will one hear from liberal pulpits that is life changing and gospel accommodating? The answer is none. One will only hear the shrill cries of preachers bending over to the zeitgeist as the pews grow emptier and emptier.
Looking around, there is a disproportionate number of grey-haired, largely overweight women wearing dog collars, walking the halls. One wonders if they are filling pews on any given Sunday or if their churches are in a maintenance mode. One can foresee hundreds of empty churches around the country in the next ten years. 90% of the people here won't be around ten years from now; there are whole missing generations, the number of millennials (and I sat down with a few) you can count on two hands, literally. In an amazing tweet, the Bishop of Springfield said he was distinctly unimpressed with the quality of youth (millennials) and tweeted "steady progressive orthodoxy; not much Jesus. Just being honest about my experience over 5 GCs." Katie Sherrod of the alternate Diocese of Ft. Worth tweeted back, "Even if bishop of Springfield thought it, why on earth would he tweet it? Can't imagine how hurtful it was to these young men & women." This is in the category of beware what you tweet, you might just appear in other places...like VOL.
It came as no surprise that the Presiding Bishop said she rejoiced that the Supreme Court had opened the way for the love of two people to be recognized by all the states of this Union, and that the Court has recognized that it is this enduring, humble love that extends beyond the grave that is to be treasured by society wherever it exists. "Our society will be enriched by the public recognition of such enduring faithful love in families headed by two men or two women as well as by a woman and a man. The children of this land will be stronger when they grow up in families that cannot be unmade by prejudice or discrimination. May love endure and flourish wherever it is to be found."
Noble and high-sounding words, but they fall flat next to what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said, "It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage." This is in the category of choose this day whom you will serve.
Anglican Communion Institute theologian and Episcopalian Ephraim Radner wrote in a paper, "The church must ask itself if, indeed, the father-mother-child elements are interchangeable in human and social value with -- mean the same thing as -- man-man and woman-woman and man-man-child and woman-woman-child forms of human coming-to-be. It is not enough to say that there have always been 'exceptions' to the forms of human marriage: alternative arrangements here and there, childlessness, and elderly couplings. None of these adjusted exceptions have ever sought to redefine marriage, optionalize it and thus effectively to dismantle it."
With Money for all. It's being suggested here that if the some 10,000 Episcopalians want to show solidarity with the poor and downtrodden, they might consider giving to the working poor, namely the women (housekeepers) who clean our hotel rooms. If 5,000 people leave $5 a night, they would inject $25,000 of cash directly into the hands of the working poor each morning; multiply that times five nights, and the giving would rise to $125,000 by the time everyone leaves. A less conservative (but completely possible) scenario: If those same 5,000 people left $5 a night for 10 nights, Episcopalians could inject a quarter-million dollars into the working poor's economy! The question is will they? Justice of course demands it, especially now that $80.00 bottles of Scotch won't be circulating around bishop's rooms. One small step for housekeepers, one giant step for Episcopal sobriety.
Are we all [Episcopal] missionaries now? Well, yes and no. Desperate to grow the Church in the face of systemic decline, there is new language afoot that says we are all members of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The church by baptism says we are "to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ." But is this the call of the many or just missionaries. If we are all missionaries, then has the word lost all its meaning? The real issue is what's the message being proclaimed? If it is the same old saw of inclusion, then that is a failed slogan, about as a big a failure as the 20/20 mission to double the church by 2020. That too has fallen by the wayside.
One is mindful of the words of the apostle Paul, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Rom. 12:2) Salutary words for a people and Church in freefall.
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