Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let's Get Political, Political...

I have been trying to avoid watching the congressional hearings about President Obama's recent Supreme Court nominee because I don't think anything will change the inevitable swing to the left that the Supreme Court is going to take over the next few years (or more).

These types of hearings usually demonstrate how vigorously people want "my way" over "the other way" when selecting people for positions of leadership. My way would be to pick a constitutional constructivist, but that way has gone by the wayside these days. I imagine people like me might be in for a pretty wild ride over the next few decades.

Supreme Court nominations always bring out battles which turn the question of how a nominee will judge into a political game where our elected officials get some free air time while the nominee tries to keep their mouth shut so that no one will get to know what foundations they use to form their judgments.

The Episcopal church selects its leadership in equally strange ways, but in the case of TEC, there is a far greater mismatch in the relative strengths of the opposing parties than we see in the party percentages in the halls of Congress today, and as a result, a fairly homogenous collection of liberal clergy has come into the majority, so guess who winds up being elevated to positions of leadership such as bishop? Recent history suggests that the "democratic" (no, I don't believe that is the proper term) polity of TEC has become a means of perpetuating incompetence.

A couple of other questions come to mind when considering the long term results of continuing to follow a failing method of choosing leaders when compared with proven methods such as those recommended in the Bible (1 Timothy 3 for example). One would guess that the secular politics of the clergy would also become homogenized over time. Several questions then come to mind:

Should the Church look for political diversity in candidates for the priesthood?

What happens when a church has little diversity in the political affiliations of its leadership?

Does the political ideology of the majority creep into the life of the church?

The Institute on Religion and Democracy(IRD) led me to this article at the American Spectator by Alan F.H. Wisdom on 02/24/10 who offers his opinion.
"...where overwhelmingly left-leaning clergy often imagine themselves to be 'prophets' leading their people into a promised land of social justice and world peace. Clergy elites may possess the institutional power to impose this political agenda; however, by doing so they instigate a rift with their church members. To the extent that politics becomes a focus in church life, the divide grows deeper and more damaging. Peter Smith of the Louisville Courier-Journal described the situation succinctly: 'Red pew, blue pulpit.'"

Don't believe it? Review the Public Religion Research 2009 survey of clergy.

67% of Episcopal clergy identify themselves as Democrats, 8% Independents, and 22% Republicans.
Maybe that helps explain this:
49% of Episcopal clergy say that gay couples should be allowed to legally marry and 38% say that civil unions should be allowed.
Of course this majority might claim that politics has nothing to do with their quest for gay marriage. In fact, I have read the claim that the Holy Spirit has is guiding them to this er..., um..., position. Unfortunately, they are lying because they have failed to back up their claims by using scriptural sources. There is a good possibility that an unholy spirit is doing the leading, and that the filthy spirit of politics has a lot to do with the current course of the Church.

Politics has probably always been a problem for the Church. I call it a problem because we usually get dirty when we get political. I agree with sister Sarah that the reappraisers have been far more successful in TEC because of their political (read: church politics) activism. Of course, this makes them all the dirtier for it. Reasserters have not been as active, nor as well organized. Some, like myself, realize the dangers politics pose to the soul, and would prefer to avoid conflict, but I am drawn back by the thought that scripture would tell us that we should instead get up off our duffs, arm ourselves with the Word of God, and engage the enemy (in a non violent way of course).

So how does a minority group of church mice get politically active? I have read the proposals. I have heard the call for an economic boycott. I have listened to the cries to move my church membership to the Diocese of South Carolina. I considered the requests of those in TEC for me to leave. Of the current options, the economic boycott makes the most sense, and I have yet to see any downsides to that approach except that participation in such a scheme might limit access to certain political activities inside the Church.

In addition to no longer funding EDUSC heretics (such as paying for a full time curate to be part of the task force to develop liturgies for same sex blessings), I am considering ramping up the rhetoric, but in order to do so I have to continue my own efforts to study the scriptures in order to be a more effective voice. I never asked for this. In fact, I hate politics. I would rather the Lord lead me elsewhere, to a place of peace, quiet, and solitude like my cave, but He has left me here, in this insane thing called TEC, and I must soldier on.

So let's get political, political...


  1. It must be said, too, in fairness, that the opposite extreme is also prevalent. In a massive right-leaning, homogeneously Republican mega-church here in Charlotte there will be a military tribute this coming Sunday so over-the-top it will leave one wondering exactly who or what is being worshiped.

    We cannot avoid observing and commenting on the affairs of this life -- hopefully speaking the truth in love (which I often fail at) -- but as good soldiers of Jesus Christ we must be careful about entangling ourselves in them (2 Tim. 2:3-4).

  2. As I get older, I become increasingly enamored with the Baptist model of congregational independence, with little or no deference to any national convention, (media representations to the contrary, notwithstanding.) This makes each congregation responsible for being diligent and discerning in picking pastors, and allows us the freedom to fire one, if he, (and it's always a "he"), goes off the deep end.

    I pray you make the right decisions regarding your church. I know from visits here, you struggle with the correct, Spirit led, thing to do. My Baptist-ness informs my thinking, of course, but it seems to me, if things don't change in TEC, one must consider "shaking the dust from one's sandals."

    Cheers, my friend.

  3. And I am reading a book that talks about the entire church organizational structure, the institutionalization (so to speak) of it all that leads to frustration to many church members and leads them to leave, in some cases. The book is "The Gathering" and focuses on building a more effective Christian community. It lays out a path towards a more Biblical model of the local church, one that is relevant to people's lives. It shows, from Scripture, the way to recover the church's roots and to once again become an effective community of men and women bound by love for Christ and each other. Are the big-business, professionally-run institutions (I'm thinking Willow Creek, in suburban Chicago as an example) even remotely connected with what God has shown us in his word about the local church? This book says no. There is much food for thought here about getting back to the basics, back to the roots of the local church.

    I love this part from the introduction: Someone is asked when her time of the most growth was -- this is her answer: “The time of major growth for me was when I said, ‘Bugger the church.’ I moved to a beach with my husband and it was just me and God without a church in between.”