Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The rise and continuing fall of mainline Protestantism in America
Com-box gems from Charley Wingate
I personally would interpret the "mainline" as the establishment Protestant churches -- the ones that assumed all along that they had some sort of God-given right to be taken seriously. The problem, of course, is that after prostituting themselves to the banking establishment up until the 1950s, they then prostituted themselves to the academic establishment thereafter. OK, so that was snarky. But the sense of the churches as having their strings pulled from elsewhere is a problem that almost all Christian bodies in the US face, except for some obscure ethnic churches with no white members. (That leaves out most of the Orthodox churches, BTW.)

The civil-rights movement for blacks stands as the high-water mark of mainline power. Vietnam showed how it was to decline. I remember the nonsense of liberation theology, all right. Possibly by that point every one had thrown away or just forgotten their copies of Mao's Little Red Book, but still the whole thing was deeply embarrassing. Not the "concern for the poor" part, but the political theorizing.

...everything we've
[the Episcopal Church] done about evangelism for fifty years has been an abject failure, and the only way we can grow, it appears, is to get upper middle-class whites to have a lot more kids.

Go to the Valpo maps: the Jews have an urban distribution, but except for one odd clump in South Dakota, we are very evenly spread across the country-- far more so that most bodies. Almost all other groups reflect patterns of immigration, emigration, and historical origin. If there isn't an Episcopal church at every whistlestop, it's most likely because there weren't enough non-Germans/Swedes to support more than a Methodist church, and not because the Cassatts, Garretts, and Mellons didn't get off the train there. In fact, of all the parishes in Montana, not one of them is in Essex-- the one place in the state where the magnates most assuredly
DID get off the Pullman.

And, um, "orthodox 'mega mall' super-duper 'more-is-better' whining/snearing crowd"
is sneering. The thing is that I think if you started a Shaker colony in the Plano suburbs it would grow spectacularly. The Evil Conservatives are very much wrong when they assert that reverting to "orthodoxy" is going to reverse PECUSA's demographic issues.
As I’ve said before, the Anglican Communion is breaking up — without state coercion the Elizabethan settlement doesn’t work — and the Episcopalians will merge with other liberal white upper-middles going after an ever-shrinking share of that demographic.

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment