Every time I get back from General Convention, there’s a least a few people who mention seeing the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the news. I always give the same warning: assume any article about the Episcopal Church contains at least one factual error. Most of the time it’s something seemingly small, like referring to us as “The Episcopal Church U.S.A.” or calling it our “annual” convention. While they might be big mistakes to someone like me, most non-Episcopalians could care less, and I understand that.
Perhaps it’s only that I’ve become aware of a lot more Christian and Episcopalian bloggers, but the news cycle this time around seems to be a lot more intense. Gene Robinson’s consecration got us more headlines, but for that, the headline was the story, “Episcopal Church Elects Gay Bishop.” That was it. It was a thing we did. This time however, it’s gotten rather personal.
It started with a laughable opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, which many are blaming on the Journal’s recent change in ownership. Despite being in the opinion section, the piece was written like a journalistic article and often mistaken for one. And despite being written like a journalistic article, it contained almost no actual facts. A cursory view shows at least one error per paragraph, ranging from the seemingly inconsequential (gathered “from around the country” discounts all non-U.S. diocese) to the outright false (the presiding bishop carrying a metropolitan cross). I see the primary benefit in this article as being an excellent teaching tool to illustrate how personal prejudice can skew a piece of writing without being explicit. After all, the author never actually says that his real problem is with women leadership in the church, but I would be a fool to believe otherwise.
To give you an idea of what I’ve been reading, here’s a list I compiled, starting with the aforementioned muckraking:
What Ails the Episcopalians – The laughable piece of fiction from Jay Akasie, printed in the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal.
What Ails the Wall Street Journal – A dismantling of Akasie’s article, exposing the most blatant errors.
Rum, Sodomy, and the Cash: The Episcopal Church 2012 – Lest you think I’m only quoting the liberals that pulled Akasie’s article apart, here’s one from a conservative blogger.
Wrong on Every Count – A bishop’s response to Akasie, also pointing out a few of the bigger flaws.
A Strongly-worded Letter about General Convention and Love – A response to Akasie regarding tradition and the Holy Spirit.
Episcopal Church is Radically Faithful to Its Tradition Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer for TEC, writes a letter to the editor at the Wall Street Journal arguing that our liberal values represent a true commitment to Jesus.
Why Is the Episcopal Church Near Collapse? – From Belief.net, an interesting exercise in using opinion as news.
Brazen Women, Cross-Dressers, and Canine Caskets – An unpacking of the patriarchical undertones in the articles by the Wall Street Journal and Belief.net
Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved? – A New York Times Op-Ed piece by Ross Douthat suggesting that liberalism is killing the TEC and other denominations like it.
Can Christianity Be Saved? A Response to Ross Douthat – Diana Butler Bass of the Huffington Post talks about the decline in church membership across all denominations, and suggests that liberal churches may not be the ones dying after all.
My Liberal Christian Church is Not Dying -A former Evangelical talks about TEC’s appeal to him and other young people in response to Douthat.
When “Liberal” Rhymes with “Theology” It’s Time for Evangelism – An argument for the theological basis of social liberal views in response to Douthat.
Liberal Christianity, Conservative Christianity, and the Caught-In-Between – In response to Douthat and Bass, Rachel Held Evans talks about what it’s like to feel caught in the middle, and how embracing the middle could help both sides.
The Glorious Episcopal Church – In response to Akasie, Douthat, and Ross, we see a different interpretation of what happened at General Convention from voting secretary Rev. Winnie Varghese, who just so happens to be my second favorite General Convention celebrity (second of course to Gregory Straub).
Originally I ended this blog post with a long diatribe with my two cents about why we’re losing members and what it all means and the inevitability of death and there was even some nice imagery in there. But I think perhaps that’s a rant for another time.
Instead, with regards to the possibility that our liberal values are killing the Episcopal Church, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes. It’s from John Paul Jones, a navel officer in the American Revolutionary War:
“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”
The Episcopal Church Welcomes Harm’s Way.