Monday, May 09, 2005

On grounds of incompatibility of vision...

I posted this a while back on a message board but don't remember where. Still, it sums up my own view on the necessity for ECUSA and conservative Episcopalians to go their separate ways, as amicably as may be possible.

[To a previous poster on the thread:] Hear, hear. I'm 100% with you on the belief that it's time for a split. Hell, it's way past time for a split; five years ago a split was grossly overdue. My Muslim friends (from several variants on Islam) and my Jewish friends and my Roman Catholic friends and I work together with mutual affection and respect in the areas in which we agree (such as the need of Kazakh orphans for loving families) while not papering over our genuine religious differences of opinion. But this is only possible because we aren't trying to pretend that we follow the same religion. If the money I donate to my Anglican church in Texas were to be hijacked by my friend Najmeddine to fund efforts to convert Christian children to Islam, it would seriously strain our friendship; and the same would be true if I were to take money donated to her synagogue by my friend Gail and use it to print pamphlets in Hebrew explaining why Jesus is the True Messiah.

There may be humanitarian projects on which those of us who call ourselves Episcopalians can all agree, such as AIDS or famine relief. But when it comes to theology, we have for twenty years been serving different gods while trying not to admit the fact. By this I mean that, even if we both turn out to be serving the same God, one of us has to be disastrously, destructively wrong in our conception of him. The church that progressives wish to create is a church that, if conservatives are right, will drag numberless souls into eternal damnation. The church that conservatives wish to maintain is a church that, if progressives are right, will continue needlessly to destroy lives that commit no sin other than failure to conform to conservative bigotry. Which of us is right, God only knows; but to pretend that we can coexist in charity while engaged in a desperate tug-of-war between mutually exclusive and hostile visions of what the Church should be, is an exercise in hypocricy, dishonesty and folly.

American Anglicans and Episcopalians manage to live in charity with people from all walks of life...except each other. It is the false, vain and doomed pretence of unity that makes true charity impossible between us. The sooner we admit that we are two separate religions and should therefore be two separate churches, the sooner we can begin genuinely to work together on matters where we truly agree while being honest and straightforward and unhypocritical about our disagreements.

I have heard much about the Episcopalian "family" in the last decade. But we are not a family. We are a walking corporate pathology trying pathetically and vainly to convince ourselves and a rather scornfully observing world that we are a family, while bringing shame onto the name of Christ through our quarreling and our lawsuits and our politicking. No true love ever arose from lies and pretence. No grace of God ever begins in anything but truth. Let the truth be told: we are not one church, we do not follow the same religion, we are not a family in anything but habit and shared ritual syllables, lacking shared meaning and shared vision to give wholeness and the power of true unity to the formulae.

Let the split come, with all practical speed. Perhaps then, having abandoned the lie that we are brothers, we can learn truly to be friends.


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