Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Just my luck

Right when I'm trying to rest up and ward off the dreaded pneumonia, the Old Faithful of the Episcopal World, Mrs. Schori, erupts again with an interview in USA Today. I was hoping that she'd stay quiet until the big event next week, when I should be a little more recovered, because I'm sure that's going to be VERY entertaining, and I don't want to miss any of it.

Well, there's lots of the usual bizarre stuff in this interview, but if I were to pick the one things that really made me roll my eyes, it would be this one:
A new Gallup survey shows that the number of Americans who say they "consider themselves part of a Christian tradition" fell 6 percentage points, from 80% to 74%, from 1999 to 2006, while the number of people who say they are not part of any religious tradition rose from 13% to 18% in the same period.

"It's no longer the social norm to be a Christian," Jefferts Schori says.
I don't think this woman really THINKS before she speaks, or listens to what she's saying. And I'm not taken in by her pose of sober reflectiveness, as so many of her fans are:
She's at ease answering questions, speaking in a low voice, slowly and precisely. She zeros in to make a point by leaning forward to fix her intent gaze on a visitor.
There is no way she could defend a statement like that, so I can only assume that it came out through some sort of automatic response-generator impulse, reciting the background lumber of her mind that never gets examined or questioned. Seventy-four percent of ANYTHING qualifies as a "norm", no matter what you're measuring.

But I know why she said this. It's because she doesn't really live in *America*; she lives in a special little world of academics and bien-pensants, and in THAT world, being a Christian is indeed a rarity. I have to wonder, in fact, how she explained her decision to go into the church to her academic colleagues, and to those of her husband. At best, they would have looked upon the decision as a charming eccentricity; at worst, they would have questioned her sanity. Did she quickly disarm their shock with the reassurance that it was only the Episcopal Church after all, so they needn't worry that she was going to behave like some vulgar Baptist evangelist?


Anyway, to get back to her utterly out-of-touch statement about the character of the people she is supposed to be ministering to. There is a long history of this sort of personality in life and in literature. In America, she is a comic figure - the Country Cousin, with her old-fashioned bonnet and her handbag and umbrella, thoroughly convinced that the way things are done "back home" is the only proper way. In a word, Mrs. Schori is provincial. She's content in her little backwater, and completely unaware of how small and ignorant she appears to the rest of the world.

And the revisionists love her more every day! At the end of 'Mansfield Park', it's said that Mrs. Norris's attachment to her niece seemed to augment with her demerits - it's almost the same way here. The more she says, the stupider she sounds, the more they praise her. David Warren wrote a fascinating piece a few days ago on a Japanese phenomenon called Sekken. It's the impulse that can make a whole society move like a single organism
A Japanese friend, who is irreverent towards her own culture, explained “sekken” to be the power that moves a large school of fish this way and that, as if they were a single organism. It is “the power that can move the entire school into the astute fisherman’s net”.
He refers to an incident when almost all of Japan was convinced that a discovered cache of pottery was the work of a rare master, when in fact it was all obvious, crude fakes. But nothing could convince people once "Sekken" took hold. Not until the proof became overwhelming, and then the entire group turned in the opposite direction. I think the revisionist section of TEC is becoming a small, closed society, and their devotion to the mediocre Mrs. Schori is the result of Sekken. Who knows if the same impulse will turn them all against her some day?

5 Comments:

Blogger Ellie M said...

I think the English translation of Sekken would be "lemmings." :)

As for Schori, I'll never forget that interview where she talked about Christianity having a violent past -- and referred to Christians as "they". That's right: "they", not "we". She didn't include herself in that grouping. Freudian slip -- or more "honesty"??

7:11 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

With anyone else, it would have been a Freudian slip, because almost anyone else in her position would know that that sort of admission was taboo, and would be constantly engaged in suppressing it. With her, though, it's just her genuine sentiments coming through; her mind isn't set up to edit out or control that kind of thought, because she doesn't recognize that there's anything wrong with it.

9:50 am  
Blogger Baroque II said...

Hmmmm... my respect for academia has grown inversely proportional with the number of rings on my trunk but Ms. Schori has increased my disdain algebraically. Even though her Phd concerns invertebrates that are by definition not the brightest bulb in God's creation box, didn't she have to have some sort of training in being able to think? Is there some sort of "Doctorates for Dummies" book at large out there somewhere?

8:07 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

baroque: that's what gets me too. Even on the most favourable terms, which her supporters claim for her, she's a failure. You read something like this, and you want to say, 'Think, dummy! THINK!!' She's supposed to be so smart and such an accomplished academic, and this is what she blurts out? I don't get it. I wouldn't have thought it took decades of experience to make the quality of one's mind known, but maybe there was something to the complaints that she was too inexperienced for the job. But I really don't think she'd have improved if she'd gotten her ordination papers 30 years ago, as opposed to just 12; I just don't think there's very good material there.

9:33 am  
Blogger Ellie M said...

Actually, Baroque II, squids and octopi are considered highly intelligent. Experiments have shown them to be quite adept at problem-solving and it appears they also learn from experience.

In fact they have a good deal to teach Ms. Schori, come to think of it. Too bad she didn't study them a bit more closely.

10:03 am  

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