Saturday, January 12, 2008

Distorting the Reality of the Episcopal Church

In a brief comment posted on another blog, Fr. Tony Clavier takes on the myths about what the Episcopal Church is "really" all about and the elites who peddle such distortions. It's a welcome corrective to agenda-driven attempts to take a handful of odd and/or extreme examples or statements by certain individuals and then use them as though such examples represent the whole Episcopal Church. It simply won't do to paint with a broad brush that characterizes every single Episcopalian as though we've all been drinking Spong-Aid. In the absence of overwhelming and irrefutable empirical evidence to the contrary, that's an instance of the fallacy of converse accident - the error of generalizing from atypical or exceptional instances.

Here's what Fr. Tony says:

TEC isn’t what some of its leadership and most vocal “sound byte” parsons, purple or not, would have the world believe it to be. It isn’t even that which its House of Bishops sound as if it well could be. The tragedy is that so many have been cowed by the suggestion that to oppose those who advance an odd religion is to be a bigot or a moral coward. The peddlers of the new religion have not won their battles by using cogent argument and logical deduction let alone Holy Scripture, but by serving a diet of sentimental twaddle and moral blandishment.

Yet if surveys are to be believed 70% of our communicants have no part or parcel in this agenda. They love their parish church and the name “Episcopal”, distrust the diocese, largely because dioceses are often run by purveyors of packaged programs which seldom work and of regulation upon regulation which have no basis in Canon Law - ask a search committee - and disown many of the policies of HQ. The term “815” is not often looked upon with devotion.

The tragedy is, as I say, that the faith and devotion of our parishioners, the ones who keep the doors open and pay the bills is discounted and the sound and fury of a small elite is judged by Anglicans abroad to be that which ordinary Episcopalians believe. It ain’t so, except perhaps in hot house parishes to be found largely on the East and West coast of this country.


bls said...
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bls said...

Well, I hate to tell him, but even though there may not be many gay Episcopalians in West Virginia, there are lots in the cities on both coasts - and we are the people who keep the doors open and pay the bills, BTW, in our own parishes.

"815" has, literally, nothing to do with it; this is about ordinary people and their Christian faith. It's become very tiresome to read opinions like this from people who obviously have little idea what the realty is.

I suppose it's easier to imagine that "liberals" are the problem than it is to face the facts of the thing.

Bryan+ said...

Actually, bls, I think that these observations apply with at least equal if not greater vigor to the agenda-driven campaign to smear all things Episcopal as heretical among some on the conservative side of things. I've grown quite weary of that agenda myself.

And so I agree - and I think that Fr. Clavier agrees - with your middle paragraph.