July 19, 2012

How could this citadel of comfort and style seemingly transmogrify into today’s screaming freak show? Well, as with so much of our national life, chronology would seemingly place the change in the 1960s. In Episcopalians”€™ case, the blame falls in the lap of two bishops: San Francisco’s James Pike and New York’s Paul Moore. The former’s heresy trial in 1967 ended with the verdict that there is no such thing as heresy in the Episcopal Church, absolving that body from any need to conform to doctrinal norms. The latter led the Church away from its former status as “€œthe Republican Party at prayer”€ into a new wonderland of social and political radicalism. That Bishop Moore was emblematic of the Church’s changes is shown by the touching story his daughter wrote of her posthumous meeting with his longtime clandestine male lover. 

As with the country as a whole, the 1970s, 80s, and 90s saw the headlong flight of the Episcopal Church into a new and undiscovered country. The General Convention formally approved of priestesses in 1976. From that point on, feminists in the EC have not looked back”€”and via lesbianism in its guise as the supreme incarnation of feminism, gay interests were added as a main concern for the Episcopal Church’s leadership. The election of openly gay Vicky Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire highlighted this development.

Whether or not the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion as a whole is “€œfaithful to the Gospel”€ or even merely in good taste is beyond the point. From the time of Elizabeth I, Anglicanism’s role has been to bless and approve whatever the Anglosphere’s dominant classes have wanted blessed or approved. Whenever those folk valued good manners, traditional mores, and a certain sense of style and decorum, the Anglican Church leadership complied.

But as those elite classes altered into the sideshow denizens who currently rule the West, “€œtheir”€ churches had to alter to suit them. Our oligarchs are not Christian in any doctrinal sense. They have no use for gender roles, for traditional family life, or indeed for reproduction itself (a bit shortsighted, given the never-ending need for bodies in uniform and obedient taxpayers). So far as many of them are concerned, there is no real distinction between human and animal life. The General Convention’s latest decrees simply put the stamp of religious approval upon the notions of our betters. Far from being a sign of America’s Episcopal Church having gone mad, these measures show she is continuing in her appointed and accustomed role.

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