Numerous takedowns have been published ranging from George Conger to Diana Butler Bass (how's that for a spectrum), again, quoted extensively at the Cafe.
In addition to numerous factual errors (particularly in the WSJ piece; also see box below), the assumption is that "liberal" = "secular" . I find this particularly annoying, since I spend my Sunday mornings at a very liberal, progressive parish with a very high liturgy and very clear commitment to Scripture as well as faith and reason. Many of my Episcopal friends there would agree with Jay Emerson Johnson, who writes, "I am socially and politically liberal because I am theologically and religiously conservative."
But what's striking to me, as one who followed GC pretty closely (I was running our Diocesan blog, believe it or not), was how far these dark prognostications were from the energy and enthusiasm I saw on twitter, on the various blogs, and in the returning warriors….er, Deputies. As a relative outsider, I found GC very hopeful. Finally, moving beyond the sexuality issue as the only concern; a meaningful and heartening desire to restructure the church in a positive way, a recognition that "all" really has to mean "all".
Are there challenges ahead? Sure, but the Episcopal Church is maneuvering to meet them better than most. It may even do so "nimbly" (SCORE!)
I've exhorted you before to stop hiding what you have to offer under a bushel. In fact I keep saying it, your own atheist evangelist. After all, you have community, liturgy, and mission to offer; you welcome intelligent people, you allow questions, you like science, you aren't hung up on sex….but you need to figure how to tell people this.
Still, there is regenerating hopefulness and not just in Episcopalians. As the Rev. Emily Heath writes, many mainline protestants are daring to dream. Much of this is driven by twitter and other social media (e.g., #mainlinedreams; you can read her piece for other hashtags used by individual denominations). Hearteningly, clearly many people are energized--not just the young.
The Acts8 group I mentioned before is just one example of how people are stepping up. (That would be #Acts8 for the twitterati.) None of these will come up with a single way to adapt and grow, of course. But it makes me think of how new growth insistently pushes out of the soil after a fire (it's that season here in Southern California), how life insistently and hopefully reclaims and re-establishes itself. The landscape changes but life goes on.
You should feel pretty good about what you did at GC. As Winnie Varghese writes in this fabulous article,
Now go invite someone to church on Sunday. ;-)
What happened at General Convention? Besides beginning to think about restructuring the church and passing a whopping huge budget, we made many statements of belief in the resolutions we passed. Here are some: We believe that God cares more about the nature of your relationship than its biology, and we have a beautiful blessing to offer. We believe that God created you to express your gender the way you feel moved to express it. We believe that no one should be assumed to be breaking the law because of his or her appearance. But mostly, we believe that we are received into the household of God in baptism and partake of the body of Christ in the Eucharist, and through the sacrament are given a glimpse of God's vision for a just world, and the courage to make it real, and we want you to join us.
|Just the facts: While the critics point (with an a-HA!) at reduced numbers, as though that's specific to Episcopalians, that's not true at all. It's not even liberal Christianity that is declining. It's organized religion overall, and particularly Christianity given that is the dominant faith expression in the US. Indeed, trends suggest that the conservatives have poisoned the well for everyone.|