Monday, September 04, 2006

Working on a Piece

I've just started a long essay examining the current furor in the Episcopal Church from the standpoint of insurgency models from Global Guerillas. Plus school starts this week, so I expect the posting to decrease. I may start posting little sneakpeaks of the ecclessial guerilla topic.

If interested in some background on the church controversy.

StandFirm and ACN (Anglican Communion Network) from the "insurgency" viewpoint.

FrJake and Episcopal Majority from the nation-state (The Episcopal Church establishment), traditional power viewpoint.

It's not quite right to simply label these two conservative (the first) and liberal (the second). The traditional conservative response--which was to decry the nomination of openly-gay Bishop Gene Robinson and work within the system (The Windsor Report)--has be outflanked by a further right (a neo-right?) upsurge...what I'm calling the insurgency/guerilla campaign. This group in Global Guerilla style is using web-based networking, swarming techniques, and targeted precision attacks to try to stall the traditional bureaucratic Episcopal Conference (a la US Military/Government) so that it simply can no longer bring "security" and "authority" to the masses, thereby losing legitimacy and collapsing under its own slow-moving inertial weight.


At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Travis said...

Hey Chris,

I was wondering what your view of declining membership in the ECUSA and in 'liberal' denominations is general is? Is this something you see as accelerating or just a temporary swing of the pendulum?


At 9:48 AM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

Good question.

Rick Warren says that what used to be "mainline" is now sideline.

By mainline he means of course the denominations referred to as mainline: Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran.

The new mainline is evangelical, Pentecostal, mega-churches, non-de nominatonals. With Southern Baptist straddling the lines (more in the latter category).

In terms of numbers/influence that is certainly true. If we have any sorta of vertical axis to interpretation, then the more depth the less span.

So if we mean by liberal in religious terms: in favor of historical criticism of the Bible and/or acceptance of more progressive-social projects (variously labeled inclusion, liberation) then that liberal will always be less.

Of course a lot of what goes for liberal is just mush, bad theology, worse liturgy. I could rant about such things from here til doomsday.

An easy sorta critique would be somthing like: if we value inclusion, then what do we do with people once we've all got them together?

Inclusion as means to end: higher communion. Versus end in itself. Inclusion for inclusion's sake. When it goes that route, it is definitely open to charges of ideology, or worldly taint, and all the rest.

Plenty of people make that argument better than me. You can find them easily if you like. Probably already familiar with that particular thread. The only point I would make on it is that generally the people who make that correct criticism are open to all sorts of critcisms themselves.

I'm more interested in building a vision beyond those divides. I don't pretend to know where it will come from, how, what timeframe, what it will even look like in real time. That belongs to God.

But I do feel/intuit that it is to come.

Still the liberal churches, like the liberal political structure, need to return to some backbone. Have some spine. Be open to criticizing themselves.

They have to offer young people something deeply traditional--as in "our tradition"--but not in a way a la conservatives that harkens back to some never existing utopia.

I offer the mystical path as the way forward on that. It is the one thing noticably lacking from both camps in most instances--and when there in the liberal is too watered down (everything is spiritual) and usually lost amidst the new church-building, salvation-making schemes of the new new mainline.

Peace brother.


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