Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rowan Williams Won't You Please Shut Up

The immediate past-Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, had a distinctive style of writing while he was Archbishop that is hard to describe. Sonorous, mind numbing, and in the end always inconclusive, I found him to be an exasperating read.

Now that he is retired from his High Priest gig, Rowan Williams still can find an occasional audience to bore to death. His most recent opinion piece, "Mass democracy has failed – it's time to seek a humane alternative" in The New Statesman is classic Rowan Williams. In it he goes after the things that he perceives that were behind the election of Donald Trump,
"This election represents a divorce between the electoral process and the business of political decision-making. It is the ersatz politics of mass theatre, in which what matters most is the declaration of victory."
"The politics of mass democracy has failed. It has been narrowed down to a mechanism for managing large-scale interests in response to explicit and implicit lobbying by fabulously well-resourced commercial and financial concerns (ironically, one of the things that Trump has undertaken to change). The 2008 financial crisis sent a tremor through that world but failed to change its workings. The effect has been a growing assumption that what goes on in public political debate does not represent any voices other than the privileged and self-interested. And so, for significant parts of a population, 'theatrical' politics comes to look like the only option: a dramatic articulation of the problems of powerlessness, for which the exact details of economic or social reality are irrelevant. This delivers people into the hands of another kind of dishonest politics: the fact-free manipulation of emotion by populist adventurers."
Never short of words, but always short of solutions, Williams concludes with more questions than answers,
"Naught for our comfort; but at least an opportunity to ask how politics can be set free from the deadly polarity between empty theatrics and corrupt, complacent pluto­cracy. What will it take to reacquaint people with control over their communities, shared and realistic values, patience with difference and confidence in their capacity for intelligent negotiation? It’s the opposite of what Trump has appealed to. The question is whether the appalling clarity of this opposition can wake us up to work harder for the authentic and humane politics that seems in such short supply."
As Archbishop, Rowan Williams worked to pacify the growing unrest in the Anglican Communion using what he considered to be an "authentic and humane" politic that in the end caused more harm than good. The fractures in the Anglican Communion are deeper than ever and part of the blame has to fall on him and his methods to "reacquaint people with their shared and realistic values" in the Church (the Indaba approach). His long, tortured, indecisive  letters left "we the people" dangling, and the polarities in the Church were left unresolved. His use of the dialectical method's ability to resolve issues was not an appropriate way to handle the marked theological differences that we have in the Anglican Communion, but he persisted in pursuing that approach in spite of nothing positive ever coming from it. Applying that same failed approach to what he calls the failure of "mass democracy" is not going to change American politics, a political battle field which has always been scruffy, mud-slinging, nasty, dog eat dog, and will probably always ruffle Williams' feathers.

He couldn't solve the problems in his own backyard, so he should keep his bloody nose out of ours,

After wasting my time reading his latest piece, I came away wishing he would just go away and shut up.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Which is better to be taken or to be left?

This Sunday's Gospel reading is Matthew 24:36-44. In it we hear the prediction of those who are taken and those who are left.

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only. 37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The meaning of these verses has been a subject of debate since Luke's gospel adds a possible explanation as to what happens to those who are taken (Luke 17:35-37),
Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
 “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."
whereas  Matthew places a similar verse before the section about people being taken or left apparently making the verse refer to "the coming of the Son of man"  (verse 28),
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

So was the author of the "Left Behind" series.

I think the key thing for believers to remember is that they have nothing to fear when that time comes and to not waste time worrying about it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Archbishop's Chaplain

I never knew that he needed one, but the Archbishop of Canterbury has a new chaplain. If anyone needs proof that the "evangelical" Archbishop Justin Welby is calling his engine room asking for more steam as his sinking ship plows into the waves of progressive post Christian religion, all they have to do is take a good look at the research interests of his new chaplain.

From the Episcopal Digital Network we get a hint as to how influential the Archbishop's chaplain might be,

"The Rev. Isabelle Hamley has been named as the new chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. As well as her duties as chaplain she will have responsibility for developing the archbishop’s priority of prayer and the renewal of religious life, especially through the Community of St. Anselm."
“I am delighted to welcome Isabelle to the team at Lambeth,” said Welby. “The chaplain is a central part of life here, supporting the archbishop and the family, maintaining the rhythms of worship and prayer and providing pastoral support for the community who live and work here.”
“Isabelle comes to us highly commended by her diocese where she has served in several ministry roles, lay and ordained, in university, college and parish. She brings a pastoral heart, a spiritual richness and a rigorous theological understanding to what is a demanding role."
SO what exactly does someone with a rigorous theological understanding present as her PhD thesis?

"Hamley is in the final stages of a Ph.D. in biblical studies, (Relational identity, Otherness and Victimisation: An Irigarayan Reading of Judges 19-21)"
Judges 19-21 contains the story of the Levite and his concubine. You remember, the unfaithful concubine who was retrieved by her "husband" and on the way home they spent the night in Gibeah, a town belonging to the tribe of Benjamin. That night the wicked men of the town bang on the door demanding the Levite come out and be sodomized. Instead of going out himself, the man sends out his concubine who gets raped to death. The man cuts his dead concubine into twelve pieces and ships the parts to the four corners of Israel setting off a war against the tribe of Benjamin. The Benjaminites are defeated but six hundred escape. A ban on them prevented them from marrying an woman from Israel, but in order to save the remnant, Israel allows the Benjaminites to abduct four hundred young virgins of Shiloh (the women belonged to a group that did not join Israel in the war against Benjamin).

What could be wrong with any of that, and what could "An Irigarayan Reading" of these chapters possibly entail?

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Luce Irigaray, 

" a prominent author in contemporary French feminism and Continental philosophy..."
"Irigaray alleges that women have been traditionally associated with matter and nature to the expense of a female subject position. While women can become subjects if they assimilate to male subjectivity, a separate subject position for women does not exist. Irigaray's goal is to uncover the absence of a female subject position, the relegation of all things feminine to nature/matter, and, ultimately, the absence of true sexual difference in Western culture. In addition to establishing this critique, Irigaray offers suggestions for altering the situation of women in Western culture. Mimesis, strategic essentialism, utopian ideals, and employing novel language, are but some of the methods central to changing contemporary culture."
I wonder if the Archbishop's new chaplain shares those same goals? The Rev. Isabelle Hamley surely must be familiar with the fact that Irigaray is a culture warrior out to remake the world into her own image.
"Irigaray's analysis of women's exclusion from culture and her use of strategic essentialism have been enormously influential in contemporary feminist theory. Her work has generated productive discussions about how to define femininity and sexual difference, whether strategic essentialism should be employed, and assessing the risk involved in engaging categories historically used to oppress women. Irigaray's work extends beyond theory into practice. Irigaray has been actively engaged in the feminist movement in Italy. She has participated in several initiatives in Italy to implement a respect for sexual difference on a cultural and, in her most recent work, governmental level."
Warning sirens are blaring in my mind telling me that Canterbury itself may be next target for "strategic essentialism" if this new chaplain is a of disciple of the feminist philosopher Irigaray.

Radical feminism must have deep roots in the religious schools in England if this type of thesis is accepted and encouraged for a PhD candidate to pursue.

If a PhD is awarded on the basis of a thesis like, "Relational identity, Otherness and Victimisation: An Irigarayan Reading of Judges 19-21" the value of a PhD from whatever institution is offering it is diminished.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Did You Preach on Jeremiah's Prophecy Today?

This Sunday's Old Testament reading will probably not get much attention in the average Episcopal priest's sermon as she/he preaches to mostly empty pews, and for good reason, because in Jeremiah 23:1-6 we hear about God's anger with those who lead his people astray,

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
The really bad shepherd of today will scrupulously avoid discussing Jeremiah, knowing that the words of the prophet of Israel are aimed right at the pulpit where they are standing.

The average bad shepherd of today, believing that their progressive gospel is the right one, will be totally unaware of the fact that it is that very same false gospel that has driven God's flock away, and that is why they are staring at so many empty chairs today.

The slightly bad shepherd will shy away from Jeremiah perhaps by saying that the prophets words were aimed at the priests of ancient Israel and leave it there.

Yes, most sermons today will focus on the story of the criminals on the cross as recounted in Luke 23:35-43, an important text to be sure with Jesus' promise to the one who recognizes him that,
"Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
I pray that the false teachers among us will come to the realization that there are some criminal acts, such as driving away God's flock, which put them in jeopardy of God's punishment and that they repent before they wind up like the less fortunate criminal who derided our Lord as he hung beside Jesus.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Presiding Bishop Curry: Living Into the Tension of the Election of Donald Trump

In the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election, we have seen a week of protests over the outcome, tears, hateful Facebook memes, and far more vitriol from the left wing than I can recall seeing coming from the right after the 2008 election.

In an effort to calm his flock, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal organization issued the following statement which I will decipher for you,

"Last week I shared what I pray was a reconciling post-election message to our church, reminding us that 'we will all live together as fellow Americans, as citizens.' Today I want to remind us that during moments of transition, during moments of tension, it is important to affirm our core identity and values as followers of Jesus in the Episcopal Anglican way."

What tension? I suspect that a huge majority of Episcopalians voted for someone other than the man who won the 2016 presidential election, and I have been reading all about their "tension" on their Facebook pages. Much of what I see is anger and hate. I guess that is how some people handle tension.

"Jesus once declared, in the language of the Hebrew prophets, that God's "house shall be a house of prayer for all nations" (Mk 11:17)."
The key words are "shall be". We ain't there yet.
"He invited and welcomed all who would follow saying, "come to me all who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens" (Mt. 11:28)."
More key words are "all who would follow". Not everyone, and not every denomination "follows". In fact, the Episcopal organization has chosen to follow its own path especially when it comes to human sexuality.
"We therefore assert and we believe that "the Episcopal Church welcomes you" – all of you, not as merely a church slogan, but as a reflection of what we believe Jesus teaches us and at the core of the movement he began in the first century. The Episcopal Church welcomes all. All of us!"
Not everyone is welcome in the Episcopal organization. Traditionalists, also known as conservatives, have been run out and are not welcome back. When was the last time you heard of any of those in the diaspora being asked to return by their progressive priest?

"As the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement today, we Episcopalians are committed, as our Prayer Book teaches to honor the covenant and promises we made in Holy Baptism: To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ; To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves; to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being."
There goes that Baptismal covenant argument again. The key word here is "dignity". When the writers of the 1979 BCP created this little gem, did they know that the definition of "respect" would come to mean "accept" and that dignity would come to mean an individual's unwise choices? Roberta Green Ahmanson explains the new meaning of "dignity" in a post at Public Discourse,  "The New Dignity: Gnostic, Elitist, Self-Destructive Will-to-Power", the new dignity to be respected/accepted is an individual's freedom to do the following,
"to remake our gender, to marry someone without regard to sex or the procreative potential of the union, to choose our time to die and enlist the medical profession in ending our lives, to not only abort a child developing in the womb but also to harvest his or her body parts for commercial gain. It also calls for new negative freedom, freedoms from—from all unwanted pain or discomfort, from limitations on what I can do to or with my body, from language or ideas that offend me or that challenge decisions I have made.
Dignity is no longer so much about who or what we are; it is about what our unfettered will can do, and what it can forbid others to do."
Every time someone pulls the Baptismal covenant argument, you might as well give up because the meaning of the words "respect the dignity" has been reduced to "Don't hurt anyone's feelings by disagreeing with them".

Getting back to the Presiding Bishop's letter,
"As Christians, we believe that all humans are created in God’s image and equal before God – those who may be rejoicing as well as those who may be in sorrow."
Only because the vast majority of his flock is in sorrow does he have to write this letter. If they were rejoicing, he would be writing a letter about Thanksgiving Day.

If there are any doubts as to for whom Presiding Bishop Curry cast his vote, the following paragraph should provide a clue,
"As a Church, seeking to follow the way of Jesus, who taught us, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself," (Mt. 22:39) and to "do to others as you would have them do to you" (Mt. 7:12), we maintain our longstanding commitment to support and welcome refugees and immigrants, and to stand with those who live in our midst without documentation.  We reaffirm that like all people LGBT persons are entitled to full civil rights and protection under the law. We reaffirm and renew the principles of inclusion and the protection of the civil rights of all persons with disabilities. We commit to the honor and dignity of women and speak out against sexual or gender-based violence.  We express solidarity with and honor the Indigenous Peoples of the world. We affirm the right to freedom of religious expression and vibrant presence of different religious communities, especially our Muslim sisters and brothers. We acknowledge our responsibility in stewardship of creation and all that God has given into our hands. We do so because God is the Creator. We are all God's children, created equally in God's image. And if we are God's children we are all brothers and sisters."
The underlying assumption is that President-elect Trump, while being opposed to illegal immigration, is out to curtail the civil rights of the LGBT, the disabled, women, "the indigenous people of the world", and Muslims. In addition, he is out to ruin the environment too.

To put the lie into one sentence, Curry finishes by writing,

"The Episcopal Church Welcomes You," is not just a slogan, it’s who we seek to be and the witness we seek to make, following the way of Jesus.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
Oh yeah, the Episcopal organization welcomes you, but only if you agree with the devastated, mourning, sorrowful, and "feeling the post-election tension" elite.

For a less biased and more Gospel centered approach please read the letter from Peet Dickinson, the Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston SC. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

It Is Not a Question of When

This Sunday's Gospel reading is Luke 21:5-19. In these verses, Jesus predicts future events, and his followers, as usual, ask the wrong question,
"When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.'"
‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.' 
‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your souls.'"
The initial disaster that Jesus predicts is the destruction of the temple. This certainly would be alarming to a people for whom the temple and temple worship were so central to their identity, but instead of asking, "Why will this happen?" the people ask, "When will this happen?"

By asking the question. "When?", the people betray their insecurity and lack of faith. An insecure person, if given the foreknowledge, will opt to get out of Jerusalem before the temple falls. A person of greater faith might resist the urge to flee being secure and trusting in Lord.

If they had instead asked, "Why should God let the temple fall?", perhaps Jesus could have enlightened them on God's plan for himself and for the world, but Jesus responds by doubling down on the prophecy, describing the challenges to their faith that are to come, challenges to their own bodies, and these might strike them as things far more frightening than the destruction of the temple.

Solomon in 1 Kings 8:27 told his people that the temple made of stone is not everything,  “
But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!"
In the end, we are taught by God who really dwelt on earth as Jesus that we must stand firm and not let our faith be shaken by terrible things when they happen. He has shown us how to endure the worst even the destruction of our physical temples. He endured the cross out of love for God and neighbor. Are we prepared to do the same?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Elections Matter, Let Us Pray

Thank you Lord for a peaceful election day.
We beseech thee good Lord to guide our nation into righteousness.
We beseech thee good Lord to end the scourges that plague us including the horror of abortion.
We beseech thee good Lord to build up marriage as you had planned for us and the family for the rearing of children and for the teaching of your Word to the next generation.
We beseech thee good Lord to protect us from our enemies.
All this we ask in Jesus' name. Amen

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

A Psalm For Voters Going To The Polls Today

Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Matthew Henry: "God is just when he inflicts spiritual judgments here, and eternal punishments hereafter"

This Sunday offers churchgoers a third chance to study the parts of  the Epistle that get cut  out. This time 2 Thessalonians goes by unheard thanks to the Revised Common Lectionary. You know the routine. First, read what will be heard in most churches, Thessalonians 2:1-5,13-17 (a gap is left where the missing verses should have been read),

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?  
But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
Next, read it again with the gaps filled in by verses 6-12 (highlighted),

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? 
And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. 
 But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
Okay, I'll admit that the verses the lectionary struck out are challenging, but Paul was writing about challenging times to come and "the working of Satan". Remember that Satan must not be mentioned in today's progressive Church. Therefore, it gets cut out, as well as God's terrifying judgment which also must not be discussed on a pleasant fall Sunday morning.

What I find challenging in the deleted verses is that God does the following to those who are perishing because they have bought into Satan's deception,
"For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. "
God sending delusions to unbelievers does not jive with the god of modern people. We have been raised to believe that God would never do something like that. Is this how God's justice works?

Matthew Henry in his Commentary from 1706 tackled the tough verses which helps me to get a grip on them,

"Their ruin is thus expressed: God shall send them strong delusions, to believe a lie. Thus he will punish men for their unbelief, and for their dislike of the truth and love to sin and wickedness; not that God is the author of sin, but in righteousness he sometimes withdraws his grace from such sinners as are here mentioned; he gives them over to Satan, or leaves them to be deluded by his instruments; he gives them up to their own hearts’ lusts, and leaves them to themselves, and then sin will follow of course, yea, the worst of wickedness, that shall end at last in eternal damnation. God is just when he inflicts spiritual judgments here, and eternal punishments hereafter, upon those who have no love to the truths of the gospel, who will not believe them, nor live suitably to them, but indulge false doctrines in their minds, and wicked practices in their lives and conversations."

God's justice may sound cruel to the modern pewsitter, raised on pablum and spoon fed the cream of the Gospel Sunday after Sunday.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but if we never talk about it, we are condemning ourselves to falling for the delusions of those who have been taken in by the lies of Satan.  

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Elections Matter: A Look at the Fallout From the 2009 Election of the Bishop of Upper South Carolina

Next week is election week in the United States of America. Most people have known for some time how they are going to vote in the Presidential election. There maybe a few people who have been planning on abstaining and only voting for their Congressman or Senator who might be swayed at the last minute to cast a vote for one of the candidates for President. My advice for anyone who goes to the polls on Tuesday is to consider the long-term consequences of your decision.

Most of us know that predicting the future is like throwing darts at a moving target, but some things can be foretold if we take a good look at what has gone before.

For example, in the run up to the 2009 election of Andrew Waldo to become the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, a small band of conservatives looked at the candidates and decided that Waldo would likely pursue a liberal agenda which would lead to a decline in the diocese in the long term (I think some of us used the term "disaster"). Of the major candidates in that Bishop election, the only ones with a solid record of church growth were solidly conservative, but nobody casting votes seemed to care about that, and the conservatives went down in flames.

Eight years (the equivalent of two Presidential terms) is probably long enough to look at the numbers and determine if that small band of deplorable conservatives was right about Waldo.

In 2009 the average Sunday attendance in the diocese was approximately 8,000. This decreased to approximately 7,000 by 2015, a drop of 12.5%. Meanwhile, the population of South Carolina grew by approximately 9%.

Looking at the six parishes in my area, York, Lancaster, and Chester counties, I added up a drop in average Sunday attendance from 478 to 345 or a decrease of 28%.  York and Lancaster counties have been growing like gangbusters since 2009.

By my estimate, Episcopalians make up 0.15% of the population of my part of the state.

The Episcopal church, under Bishop Waldo, is slowly withering away, and this illustrates the need to vote for a candidate with a positive track record of growth whenever you go to elect a Bishop.

As far as the national election goes, it is hard to vote for either of the two major parties' candidates based on their track records.