Monday, October 31, 2011

Your Pledge Dollars at Work: The Episcopal Church Socialist League

From the Diocese of Minnesota, where they had to get their fireplaces going early this week, comes this interesting use for church buildings:
The "Episcopal Church Socialist League" will meet on Nov. 7, 2011 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on-the-Hill. An Episcopal Socialist League? What will they come up with next?

The announcement states,
"This group has grown organically at St. Paul's out of a deep desire to ground the transformation of society both in the liturgical life of the church and her rich history in this area.
Our next meeting will be on Monday, November 7th at 7:15pm at St Paul's Episcopal Church on-the-Hill. All are welcome to come bring their ideas on what action they would like to see the ECSL engage in this upcoming year"

I could not find this event on the on-line church calendar for St. Paul's church on-the-Hill, but after a perusal of their web page, I would not doubt that the Episcopal Socialist League will meet and will be welcome because the church's home page advertises (among other things) "Radical Hospitality," and
"We relish a good debate and a great vegan meal, or a BBQ in the summer. We engage in mission with our sister congregation El Santo Niño Jesus. We are learning still, after better than ten years, what that means to be brothers and sisters in Christ. Come learn with us.

The people of St. Paul's have a strong tradition involvement in peace and social justice issues rooted in our heritage as an progressive Anglo-catholic parish in The Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota(see Justice).

We also are a people who believes in excellence in worship (see Worship). We know from our tradition that there are many ways to worship and so we offer Solemn High liturgies with chanting, incense, and full choir as well as simiple contemplative liturgies in a wide range of styles. Festive receptions often follow our liturgies as a place to meet and greet.

Our vision as a Christian community is rooted in four areas:

+ Radical Hospitality+

+Inspiring Worship+

+Spiritual Formation+

+Passionate Advocacy+

These areas are the tap roots of our life in Christ. Because life is a process, we are learning what this mission means one day at a time. Want to know more? Come and see!"

Blessings & Peace,The Rev. Mark Thompson, Vicar

The web site has links to recent blog posts which include "Read up on "homosexuality and the Bible" - Fr. Neil" which left me rolling my eyes when I read,
"Finally: Romans 1:24-27 gets inordinate attention in all discussions of "the Bible and homosexuality," and almost always is read as Paul's theological diagnosis of the homosexual "condition." I think that reading is fundamentally wrong. I've discussed the passage in two books (Liberating Paul [1994; 2006], pp. 192-94, and The Arrogance of Nations: Reading Romans in the Shadow of Empire [2008], 75-83), and in summary form in this 2003 column on "The Apostle Paul and sexuality" at The Witness online (click here).

What do other scholars think about that argument? One attempt at rebuttal, from Robert A. Gagnon, is here (to which I will respond in another post). Since the publication of The Arrogance of Nations, I've heard from other scholars (okay, a total of three so far) who find the argument "completely convincing": "it convinced our whole graduate seminar on Romans"; "it blew my socks off." That argument was the hook for the brief mention of my book in Lisa Miller's cover story on gay marriage, "Our Mutual Joy," in Newsweek, Dec. 15, 2008. But of course being mentioned in Newsweek only guarantees that I'll be vilified by a wider circle of conservative Christians--not that I'm right.

Grace and peace,

Fr. Neil" (2009)
I would bet dollars to donuts that Robert Gagnon would destroy this guy in a debate, but the "occupy St. Paul's on-the-hill" crowd would probably not let that happen.

I do not doubt that St. Paul's on-the-Hill is full of loving people who are unaware that they have been occupied by not only socialists but by Biblical revisionists.

I hope the Socialists will confine their activities to polite debate on the scriptural basis of socialism and not say a single word that might suggest that the church on-the-Hill endorses a political party or candidate. After all, that might jeopardize the tax exempt status of the church.

Good luck with the stewardship campaign St. Paul's-St. Paul, Mn! From the stats it looks like you are going to need it!

After 3 blog posts in 2 days, the socialist in me tells me that I shouldn't put in any more hours of work on this blog this week.


  1. Anonymous11:11 PM

    One would think that is the capitalist in you speaking, my friend.


  2. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Fallen Christians of the world, Unite!

  3. Certainly, scarcity is the way to drive up value.

    As for the congregation you discuss, it's amazing how insidious Derrida's Deconstruction is and that it's taken root and flowered in the seminaries. Woe, to us.


  4. Jackie,

    It must be the evil capitalist member of the Episcopal Capitalist Club in me coming out of the closet.

  5. Nickie, Hero of the Revolution,


  6. Randall,

    I haven't seen Derrida in the Episcopal church Publishing Catalog, but I admit that I probably wouldn't have noticed... insidious indeed.

  7. "Socialism is the economic realization of the Gospel" said Archbishop William Temple. F.D. Maurice called his movement "Christian Socialism" and the Anglo-Catholic revival was led by Anglo-Catholic socialists. Charles Gore (Bp. of Oxford and founder oif the Community fo the Resurrection) Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, and Rowan Williams were (are) all socialists.

    This position is based firmly on Patristic teaching. As St. Augustine said, "if you wish to love your neighbor as yourself, divide your money with hum!"

    The burden of proof is on those who would say that socialism is somehow outside the mainstream of the Anglican tradition. [Google "Anglo-Catholic socialism" for more.]

  8. Billteska,

    I presume that you are in favor of a voluntary socialist arrangement between devout Christians as the realization of the Gospel and not an enforced secular socialism run by unregenerate man.

    A good example of the former would be a monastic order, of which there are many which have survived for centuries.

    The all too many short lived examples of the latter to consider that model as the "Gospel realized."

  9. Oops, should read:

    There are all too many short lived examples of the latter to consider that model as the "Gospel realized."