Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Episcopalian No More. Ordaining Gay Priests OK For Some But Not For Me.

Being of a conservative nature I found the Presbyterian church amicable. I liked the simplicity of surrounds, of ceremony, of vestments. I liked the plain spoken "person in the street" congregation and the lack of structure-no Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals etc, and the democratic nature of church decision making.
The basic Protestant emphasis on The Word as the guiding light for person and church without any appeal to or direction from ecclesiastical hierarchy fitted, again, a conservative nature.

However, I reached a point where all this basicness, to coin a word,
was, I found, rather boring. As  Giovanni Guareschi  put it in 'The Little World Of Don Camillo'  "Even the eye needs some satisfaction, and in matters of religion its the same as with a doctor,there's a lot to be said for personal sympathies and moral impressions!"

So as an happy alternative I started attending the Episcopalian church. Here there was color, an uplifting ceremonial and, since the hierarchy of the church never entered into any aspect of my personal life, I was more than happy to disregard that aspect of the church structure
But, sadly I find it impossible to continue in the congregation.

I was impressed with the Cardinal from Washington D.C. who,when questioned on television about the Catholic church attitude to more or less advised that that was a line in the sand they had to adhere to.Otherwise they had no reason to exist as a faith if in effect their doctrine was so malleable on matters of life and death that it could change with the political/cultural ethos of the moment. His answer on DADT which he advised was a political question, I found less convincing however.

But he is absolutely right the church has to have some basic,bottom line premise. For the Episcopalian hierarchy to accept women at all levels is grand,although in matters of church leadership I personally would prefer to attend a church with a male pastor-only because in matters of ceremonial e.g. funerals/weddings "the eye needs something to look at " and the ear needs gravitas-but that's just my point of view-and I am entitled to "shop around" of course.

The Episcopalian church is in turmoil and in danger of splitting apart
On the other hand I can't accept having male or female homosexuals as Pastors/Bishops etc. I would have absolutely nothing against them as individuals in any shape or fashion, and like many families I have gay relatives whom I love and admire, but I wouldn't support them for ordination, a matter which is clearly against biblical injunction. On which subject I would feel confident that Catholics would concur. Again, if we accept the lead of the Episcopalian church on this then there is absolutely no end to having any variation in "lifestyle" acceptable for any position,nor matter of faith which is not malleable. 

So it's back to the rather plain trappings of Presbyterian worship again-unless I move to England where the Anglicans have not gone down the Episcopalian path, at least for now. Why not the Catholic church? To much color I'm afraid, too much structure and there are a few doctrinal positions which are not for me e.g. transubstantiation and letting priests marry. I think it no accident that all the many troubles the Catholic church has experienced lately stem from the lack of that particular option for their clergy.

At the end of the day the important thing is that one's faith is exercised and we are fortunate, I believe, in having a number of options where one can do that. At the end of the day unless a faith has a bedrock of imovable core strucutre amicable to its founding values it is "salt that has lost its saltiness and should be cast aside"

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