Convention has ended. It was a fun, joyous, hilarious and exhausting ride. And is now over. Which suggests that I can take a nap, and wear a non-collared shirt for a full day, and stop demanding that people call the question when I want them to be quiet.
I was all ready to come home yesterday, all set to read mindless fashion magazines on when plane when I glanced at Twitter, and discovered that the Wall Street Journal has lost its collective mind.
I’m not going to link to the article. You can Google it if you wish. It makes for a fascinating and hilarious bit of fiction. From the author’s point of view, The Episcopal Church has emerged straight from a Trollope novel, complete with lavish dinners, the finest wines, and a clandestine potentate, with a mission to destroy democracy, marriage and kittens. If we have time, we shall continue on to massacre apple pie, and America, but we might already be dead by then, so who knows?**
Wiser folks than me have responded already. You can read their replies here, here, and here.. All are brilliant, and say the things I was thinking calmly, and reasonably, which is to be commended. It hurts when someone slimes your beloved family like this.
Stepping back for a bit though–I wonder if this isn’t a positive sign. There seems to be, in certain quarters, the ready expectation that our church would die or implode, or break itself apart. After 2003, I seem to remember that forecast of doom being repeated over and over. “This will kill the church. You’re leaving the historic faith and no one will listen to you”.
Turns out, that didn’t happen like anyone thought.
True, we had epic property battles. People were hurt. People left the church. Several dioceses tried to depart, and it was ugly and painful, and I would just as soon never watch that happen again.
But a nationwide schism? Two dueling Episcopal churches in the US? TEC drummed out of the Anglican Communion with no friends, no ties, and no hope for the future, because we dared actually follow Jesus in our own context?
Nope. That didn’t happen. As we stand here, nine years on, the splinter groups have largely broken apart themselves. The remnants of the departing dioceses are proudly Episcopal still, and have started to welcome back many of those who left in the first place. The Anglican Covenant is now so low on anyone’s list of concerns, that we actually declined to respond to the request.
Instead, we started to ask: how can we do more of this following Jesus thing. How can we do it through structure? Through justice work? Through inclusion? Through how we treat each other? Through preaching and study and everything else the church is about?
It seems many of us like following Jesus as much as we liked worshipping him.
I suppose this greatly enrages some onlookers. We have been annoyingly reluctant to die, to conform to their narrative. Instead, we’ve been meandering our way into this interesting new way of being. (Episcopalians tend to meander like a giant conga line, I think.). That proves these onlookers wrong: that scares them, that makes them angry.
I’m ok with that. We’ve moved from being ignored as a church, to being laughed at, to being fought and openly opposed. I do believe something similar happened to Jesus. And if we’re intent on doing this like he did it, then we should be really ecstatic that some guy at WSJ is furious over our existence.
What comes next is resurrection.
Bring it on.
** I accept that I am prone to hyperbole, but I swear I am not making this up. So I have an offer for the Journal: in 2015, I’ll be the young female priest scarfing down energy bars and coffee between committee hearings and the end of legislative session. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, could you please save me some of these lavish dinners and finest wine you evidently found? I return, I’ll show you the nearest Panera, and plug for your iPhone.