Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Episcopal and Unconstrained

Okay.  Now I’m just flat-out confused.  In her sermon today at the Episcopal General Convention Eucharist, the new Presiding Bishop referred to “Our Mother Jesus,” who “gives birth to a new creation,’ and stated that “we are his children.”

Now, in an address to the House of Deputies in a last-minute attempt to prevent schism, she has described the Church as "Two bodies united in one being," using examples of separating conjoined twins:

“Do not separate twins unless both can live full lives. We in the church are much like that. This creature, this body of Christ, is not Holy One and Holy Two. The resolution which stands before you is far from adequate. I find the language exceedingly challenging, but my sense is that it's the best we're going to today and at this convention. I am fully committed to the inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in this church." (Note: quote may be somewhat paraphrased – source was posting on the fly.)

Let me get this straight.  If Jesus is the Church’s Mother, and if the Church is a set of conjoined twins, then the implication is that the Church is a divine birth defect.  Isn’t there a theological problem in here somewhere?

I’m not trying to be crass (for once).  I think this represents in a fundamental way what is wrong at the deepest level of the liberal/heretical/progressive/reasserting/whatever movement in the Episcopal Church.  At the core, there really isn’t any “there” there.  What you do or say at any given moment in response to the “movement of the Spirit” doesn’t have any connection with what you said or did yesterday in response to the last “movement of the Spirit.”  The words are just tools of the moment; they don’t really mean things.  The danger is obvious.  The “Spirit” that tells me to marry gays today may tell me to imprison them tomorrow; the one that ordains woman this week can put them in a Burqa the next.  

This goes way beyond adapting to the needs of the times.  The Catholic Church condemned loaning money at interest many years ago; it doesn’t today.  But the condemnation was in response to the conditions of the time.  If economic conditions return to the way they were in 16th century Italy, I imagine the prohibition will go back into effect.  Conditions may change, but the underlying principle remains.  For these folks, however, there’s no underlying core – nothing permanent or unchangeable.  

If you don’t really believe in Eternity, if God is found within us and isn’t objectively there, if the scriptures are the products of men and not truly inspired by God (however you think that works), then there’s nothing to which to anchor the boat.  It drifts with the currents.  Drifting with the currents can actually be a very pleasant way to spend one’s time.  (I’d be happy to rewrite the 10 commandments if I thought I had the authority!)  Unfortunately, as the Episcopal Church is discovering, sooner or later, the drifting boat invariably runs onto the rocks.