Seen at antiwar demonstration, March 18, 2006
Reading Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post is often like breathing fresh air. The columnist brings a whiff of his Los Angeles reality -- multi-cultural, multi-racial, trade union-friendly -- to confines that too often stuffy with convention and pomposity.
Still, it was strange to find him opining today on "Episcopalians Against Equality." The defection of a few old and rich Virginia parishes from the national church seems not his usual sort of topic. Nor mine. Though I participate in Christian worship though the Episcopal Church, I leave discussion of its conflicts to folks far more immersed in church matters than I, for example the community at Fr. Jake Stops the World.
Meyerson's take on Episcopalian squabbles is a delightful secular view of our tempestuous mini-world.
Meyerson nails us; it's all too true.
The contemporary Episcopal Church is nothing like the parish of my childhood. Then, at least in the little corner from which I escaped around age 14, membership in the right Protestant denomination and congregation was a marker of upper class status, something that (white) social climbers adopted on their way up. This had little to do with beliefs or values and everything to do with being seen on Sunday with the "right people." No wonder whatever remnants of that have survived are now embarrassed to be led by a Presiding Bishop with the wrong (female) plumbing, not to mention a church that harbors queers who are visible and accepted.
So some folks are off to graze in improbable African pastures. I can't imagine they'll really be very comfortable there, but that's their lookout. I, for one, won't miss them. I didn't like them in my youth and I sure don't like them now as a mature leftist lesbian and feminist.
Somewhere along the line, the Episcopal majority became a community and polity that affirms, in the words of former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning, "there will be no outcasts in the Church." For women and gays, this vision seems more and more true.
The Episcopal Church can't truthfully claim to be as fully welcoming to poor people and people of color as much of it has become to outcasts defined by gender, but many parishes try. Our failures mirror those of our society at large.
The new Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- the one the departing dissenters so despise -- calls on the Church to continue
I can live in an institution affirming that understanding of mission. It looks like the uptight upright can't.