Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Faith Formation and the TEc Budget: Making Talismen

The Episcopal church has proposed slashing the "Faith Formation" request in its draft budget that is being circulated prior to the 2012 General Convention. One seminary dean comments,
"Youth, young adult, and formation ministries are slashed about 90%, from about $3 million to $286,000. No more EYE or national Episcopal youth events. No more children and youth ministries, and on and on..."
In a way, this might not be a bad thing as we have seen little good theology come out of the national headquarters of this organization. The declining numbers of Sunday worshippers and the falling numbers of youth in the Episcopal church is a testimony to the failure of previous spending efforts.

Do you think the church will consider the following low-budget suggestion? Bible study: no DVDs, no guest speakers, no "revisioning" of the Word of God, just the straight truth?

I doubt it.

Just what kind of "Faith Formation" is going on right now under the old budget in your neck of the woods?  Let me tell you a little bit about the goings on in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina...

Recently I read in our parish newsletter a note encouraging people to look to Camp Gravatt as a place for "Faith Formation." Our newsletter blurb sounds so lovely:
"Camp Gravatt is a faith-based, co-ed, residential camp located in Aiken County,
South Carolina. Platform tents and cabins that make up the campers' living area
are nestled among 260 acres of beautiful pine trees and hard woods, lakes and
Camp Gravatt is an affirming, Christian community where campers of all backgrounds
and ages make friends, learn responsibility, become leaders, and grow in
their understanding of themselves, their community, and their God-given gifts. Specially selected and trained staff members work to nurture and develop campers' self-esteem, rather than competitive expertise in a particular sport or skill.
Activities include archery, arts and crafts, campfire, canoeing, challenge course, environmental education, faith formation, fishing, hiking, music, recreational sports, swimming, worship and more!"

I have not had a lot of faith in Camp Gravatt since I posted a story earlier about creating fairy gardens there, but as if that wasn't enough,  I recently got an alert from a number of concerned Upper South Carolinians about more "novel" activities that were coming to the conference center. The people at Camp Gravatt, the Episcopal Camp and Conference center in upper South Carolina are now making talismen,

Arts Academy in the Woods
Creating a Talisman with Mary How
Thursday, September 20   4 - 6:30 PM
"A talisman is an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune. Explore the act of creating meaningful art with intention. Learn to set a personal intention or goal, and create a talisman that can help you align with that intention. Bring 2 - 3 personal items that can be incorporated into your art. The $35 fee includes materials, instructor's fee, and a light supper".
Talismans are a new age rediscovery of an age old human tendency: attributing supernatural powers to inanimate objects.

Does that bother you at all?
Do you think they can pass along some of that good fortune to the "Faith Formation" budget?

How about the request to bring 2-3 personal items that can be incorporated into your talisman? That sounds more like witchcraft than "arts and crafts." Well, maybe they should file it under "dark arts and crafts."

I remember seeing a lot of those talisman thingies in Greece,

Yep, the old evil eye.

One can only look at the news to see how these things have helped Greece.

After checking my Bible,  I have to rank talismen right up there with sacred poles, and I can't say that I can find anything good to say about talismen. Other than to acknowledge that there is a sucker born every minute, and a tourist trap around every corner in Athens.

Could these lucky charms stop this Diocese from going the way of the ancient Hebrews who time and time again fell for such evils?


First came the labyrinths, next came Solstice worshipping Druids, then came the fairy gardens, and now talismen. What next?

"Well, either you're closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a pool table, labyrinth, fairy garden, talisman maker in your community."
(Thank you Meredith Willson)

My advice to all of you in River City is this: stop the labyrinths before you get druids and talismen because they all spell "Trouble, trouble, trouble..."

They really ought to put warning labels on these things like, "DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON," DON'T GO THERE!
(Plate available at


  1. You hit the nail on the head. If the youth don't receive something different, something more meaningful, than what the world has to offer, no amount of spending or programs will entice them to attend. Kids aren't dumb, by any means.


  2. Randall,

    You know what that meaningful something is, and it is just the thing that is missing from the terribly long and boring "Envisioning the Future of Faith Formation in the Episcopal Church" (.pdf Version 1.0)

    Reading this, searching for the words "Jesus," or "Gospel" and finding them lacking pretty much tells the tale of what Faith Formation does not encompass in this church.

  3. This is quite disturbing information. Many "false brethren" have come into the Church and are attempting to lead people astray and pervert the Faith. Thanks for exposing these works of darkness in TEC. I recently heard the ex-ArchBp. Geo. Carey speak at St. George's Church (Nashville, Tenn.) about the attacks on Christianity from without. Maybe he should have focused on the "wolves in sheep's clothing" within. Keep up your good work. I agree with you completely. Matt. 6:33

  4. Thanks Cradle,

    I think we are called to be vigilant for all the ways of the enemy.