Sunday, April 06, 2008

It's supposed to matter

Diogenes at On The Record (Catholic World News) had an interesting essay on his blog a few weeks ago. Of course, he was talking about the Catholic Church, but it seemed to me to apply even more starkly to the strife-torn branches of the Anglican Church.

He was appalled by the very relaxed attitude Catholic bishops take towards the risks that their flock are running.
Bad churchmen are a vexation, but an understandable and probably unavoidable vexation. Harder to explain -- and progressively harder to deny -- was The Void at the center of the Church's activity: the absence of concern for souls in jeopardy.
Diogenes is rightly concerned that bishops and priests seem to spend no time rescuing their charges from danger, and likens them to a mother who allows her children to play with chemicals:
More disquieting than the bishops' silence, however, is their "performative" repudiation of a salvific component to their ministry. Whatever their personal opinions may be, they don't act as if it were possible for a man to lose his soul by making a spiritually lethal choice.

Imagine a mother whose toddlers crawl past her legs under the kitchen sink, open various bottles marked with the skull-and-crossbones, pour the contents into sippy-cups, and then trot off drinking the contents while she shakes her head in bemused resignation. Either the woman is criminally negligent, or she doesn't believe the marked bottles really contain poison. There is no third possibility.
In the Episcopal Church, you can see a third possibility: the unloving mother who can't wait for the brats to die so she can go back to dating, partying and the fun life. I don't know how else to explain the actual haste of liberals to get rid of the conservatives who won't tamely submit to their experimentation.

No longer do the leftists even hide their loathing for conservatives. Episcopal Life journal is running an ad coaxing Anglicans to leave their church and join the Roman Catholics. Blogs like this one make a ritual protest that "This is not a time to "get rid" of troublemakers", then proceed in the next sentence to "Here's your hat and what's your hurry?" The purges of recalcitrant bishops and priests gathers pace.

In all this, I find a disquieting lack of any sense of seriousness. There was a time when Anglicans really thought that being an Anglican was important. That the salvation of one's soul could depend on it, and making a wrong choice could have eternal consequences. Now, there's no sense that a person runs any risk at all by leaving the Anglican Church. There's no concern that the people being swept away by the new broom could wind up going to hell. Even to write out the phrase seems faintly ridiculous. No one in TEC or ACC takes their actions seriously in a spiritual manner at all. They remind me of Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood in "Sense and Sensibility", busily calculating how long it will be before their widowed mother and half-sisters will get out and leave the estate for them to enjoy. There are a few half-hearted expressions of regret, and even faint wishes that they could help, but the bereaved and disinherited are not fooled, and know that the minute their carriage drives out of sight they will be forgotten.

No wonder these people cannot evangelize - they have no reason for being Anglicans themselves, other than it's where they've found rich pickings. The Catholics know that salvation is found in the Church; likewise the Orthodox. What do the Anglicans know? Except, "Oh, well, it's nice and comfortable here, and it'll be even better when there are fewer of us to share."


Blogger Henry Troup said...

Distressingly accurate

10:06 pm  

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