November 24 2008

Episopal Church At War With Itself

One of my hard rules on this blog since I started was no serious discussions of religion… with the exception of Scientologists.  Well, welcome to me breaking that rule.

I have not attended church with the exception of weddings and funerals since December of 1985.  I remember that so clearly because it was Christmas Eve of the year I was 14 that I finally spoke up that I had no interest in going to midnight mass.  I have nothing against people worshiping in the ways they see fit, so long as it does not infringe on another person.

Just because I don’t go to church doesn’t mean I have no faith, I just don’t see why a person has to go to a designated building, on a designated day to display their faith.  Even at 14 I saw too many people that were holy only for that one hour on Sundays, and never at any other time.  I just had no interest in going anymore, but that’s just me.

When I did go to church, I was raised in the Episcopal church, and I still consider myself Episcopalian.  For those of you unfamiliar with the faith, it is better known as the Anglican Communion in Europe, and was the church formed by Henry the VIII when the Pope would not grant him a divorce from Anne Boleyn.  To say that the Episcopalians tend to be a bit more liberal than most Christian faiths would be an understatement.  We allow our priests to marry, we have no confession, as I have always explained it, “think of us as Catholic Lite, same great faith, half the guilt.’

So, imagine my surprise when I learned there is a rift in the church being brought about the “conservative” Episcopalians.

… excuse me?  The what?!?

“Conservative Episcopalians” sounds to me like “vegetarians that eat meat”, the two don’t go together well in a sentence.  That isn’t to say that Episcopalians aren’t a diverse group of people in everyday life, but when it comes to matters of the church, it just seems odd.  At the core of their fight with the higher ranks of the church is over the acceptance of gays into the clergy, the blessings of gay commitments and, the one that shocks me, women being allowed into the clergy.

Women have been part of the clergy for quite some time now, and there was even a British sitcom, The Vicar of Dibley, which revolved around a female member of the clergy.  That has been around for quite some time now, so I find it odd people are taking issue with it now.

So far six dioceses in the United States have broken away from the church and have aligned with a new Episcopal church from Argentina.  Why Argentina?  I have no clue, but it appears that is where this movement has come from.  I find it odd that six complete dioceses have voted to leave the main church, and that says to me that their ministers are leaning that way to begin with, and convincing their congregations to follow along.  My question is if these people were so unhappy in the church, why hadn’t they left already for another church?  Maybe it’s just me, just seems a little over dramatic the way it was done.

So, why do I blog this?  For some reason it cracks me up that a church that was formed as a revolt against another church, now has a splinter group forming as a revolt against it.  As for me, if I still went to church, or was to ever return, it would still be to the main Episcopal church, because, as Eddie Izzard said in Dressed to Kill, “But you can’t do that in Church of England, you can’t say, “You must have tea and cake with the Vicar, or you die!” You can’t have extreme points of view, you know. The Spanish Inquisition wouldn’t have worked with Church of England”

And with that, I leave you with this parting shot also from his show that really sums up the difference between our church and others.

So the Pagan religion I don’t know a huge amount about, but it was this earthy thing. Christianity had split into many different areas – Catholicism still has the fire and brimstone,( beating drum ) “Row, you bastards!” You know… Original sin! What a hellish idea that is! People have to go,

“Father, bless me for I have sinned, I did an original sin! I poked a badger with a spoon.”

“I’ve never heard of that one before! Five Hail Mary’s and two Hello, Dolly’s.”

“Oh, all right…”

“Bless me, Father, for I have slept with my next door neighbor’s wife.”

“Heard it! I want an original sin.”

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry!”

The Anglican faith doesn’t have that. You’ll never go,

“Vicar, I have done many bad things.”

“Well, so have I.”

“What shall I do?”

“Well, drink five Bloody Marys and you won’t remember.”

Yeah… that pretty much sums up my confusion over the idea we have “conservative Episcopalians”.

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