Friday, August 14, 2015

Answering an article by an Episcopalian

An Episcopal priest in good standing, the Rev. Laurie Brock, writes: 10 things I wish everyone knew about the Episcopal Church.

OK, this post picks on the Episcopal Church. Because the article asked for it.

"We don’t all love 'Downton Abbey.'" Episcopalianism's extremely ethnic; it's English! Funny thing is, the more liberal and "diverse" they try to be, the smaller, whiter, and richer they get. They think real Catholics are bigots. Blue-collar conservatives "just don't fit in." ("Nice but not our class, dear.") "We were not formed because Henry VIII wanted a divorce." You were formed because he wanted an annulment he didn't deserve. "For more than 500 years, residents of the British Isles practiced a particular expression of Christian worship, broadly called Celtic Christianity (which isn’t an exact term). When the Roman practice of the faith became official in the seventh century, the deep roots of centuries of faith were not abandoned or eradicated." The myth of ancient non-Catholic British Christianity; oh, please. The English "reformers" thought they were returning to the church of the early fathers, before Catholics evangelized Ireland; I think the non-Catholic Celtic church myth is only a couple of centuries old.
Isn't "Downton Abbey" a women's show?
I've only seen part of one episode. Michelle Dockery, an actress on it, is very pretty. I wonder if having lived in the mother country and not following this show are connected. But you could be right; it might be mostly for women.
The Episcopal Church Does Not Welcome Me, It Does Not Welcome You. Run far, run fast. Don't get involved with it.
Indeed. By a historical accident it taught me some basics of traditional Catholicism when I was growing up, but that's not its true nature. Stay away.
It taught me some basics of traditional Protestantism when I was growing up. Stay away!
It has the Bible, the creeds, and liturgical worship, and promotes community, all of which Miss Brock mentions, but Erastianism is a feature, not a bug. It was invented to serve the state, and it pretty much lost its faith at the "Enlightenment."
The "Celtic Christianity" canard... Chortle. Yawn.

The Book of Common Prayer and the Reformation have nothing to do with ancient "Celtic Christianity" whether in terms of dogma, liturgy, or custom. And certainly not in Celtic folk religious customs which they were keen on stamping out. Positing a Celtic Christianity juxtaposed to an officialy imposed Romanism starting in the 7th century has to account for the fact that Roman primacy was recognized by the British Church before Augustine, and, among other things, the visitation of St. Germanus, which make no sense apart from British recognition of the primacy of the Roman Church. The differences between "Celt" and "Roman" were differences in liturgy and custom; not doctrine.
That's what I was trying to say. The "reformers" didn't claim to.
The other theory you hear sometimes is the "nasty Norman" thesis.


They are a bunch of phonies. The "welcome" is only for those who share their left-wing views. Do you really think that an outspoken conservative like myself would be embraced by your average Episcopal parish?
Exactly. Folks in flyover country who love Jesus aren't their market. They have few kids, many of whom leave, and they skim a few ex-Catholics and ex-evangelicals. Actually, demographically, sociologically, the Catholic and Episcopal churches don't compete. The Episcopalians' biggest rivals are other English Protestants, the United Church of Christ (what the Puritans turned into) and their non-Christian offshoot the Unitarians.
Well, I wouldn't say that, particularly of people who were born and raised in TEC.
It's becoming more and more so as conservative born Episcopalians die or leave.
In the old days, they certainly attracted a lot of Catholic priests, or those who wanted to be priest, who wished to marry. The outward structure and ritual of the two churches seemed similar, especially after Vatican II. Now not so much. It looks as if they still get traction from some people, mainly their more conservative Hispanic parishes. Alberto Cutié.
Did they? I don't think so. Only a few, then and now. Fr. Cutié is a rarity. As Peter Robinson says, ex-Catholics there are a small but noisy minority. By the way, the Episcopal Church has long supported schisms in American Catholicism, from Italian neighborhood ones to the Polish National Catholics to the Ruthenians' defections to the Orthodox. They've wanted to absorb us, Americanize us. Their few Hispanic converts aren't conservative.
No but an outspoken conservative would be welcome at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas.
Yeah, that semi-congregationalism and even semi-conservative dioceses such as Dallas. But logically if you're still in the Episcopal Church, you're on board with women priests and gay weddings, on top of bad old Protestantism. We have the right to enforce our teachings among our people; they do with theirs.
On other hand, the bit about alcohol this woman discusses is interesting. Maybe it's because I am from the South, but alcohol was rarely ever served in my parish church (apart from the Communion wine of course). It was coffee (and lemonade in the spring and summer). The church simply had no bearing on drinks one way or the other in my experience.
The Anglicans drink, like Catholics and German Lutherans. But I understand that back when safe drinking water was rare, the Puritans drank beer too, just like other English people.

Anglicanism is like if the Masons ran the Catholic Church. Because they sort of do run the Anglican Church.
And they sort of do run the Catholic Church...
Churchmen might be Masons, breaking our rules, but nobody can own the Catholic Church like the British government and the liberal elite in America own Anglicanism.
Masonry is passé. We've got bigger fish to fry.


Well, that woman doesn't speak for me; I love "Downton Abbey," am proud of Anglicanism's links to the Monarchy, am fiercely attached to English choral music, couldn't care less about "diversity," and wear black on July 4. God save the Queen.
Monarchy's good, the ethnic English should like being so, and the American Revolution wasn't justified.
Being English Canadian, when I was denomination-shopping I wanted to be Anglican really bad, but female priests were a deal-breaker right out the gate, even the breakaway groups ordain them.
The Continuers don't; the Realigners do but are reconsidering it. The Continuers: as the late Fr. Serge (Keleher) said, "The Protestant Episcopal Church fell apart so let's re-create it so it can fall apart again."

The Episcopalians accidentally taught me traditional Catholicism when American Catholics were low-churching themselves and trying to be modern liberals so thanks. Catholicism in English speaks to me in the idiom of the old Prayer Book. I like Cary Grant and David Niven in The Bishop's Wife, and almost everybody loves C.S. Lewis. But I wouldn't go back if you paid me or threatened me.


  1. Well said, YF, the myth of the proto-Protestant 'Celtic Church' has been well and truly quashed by modern scholarship. Early medieval Christianity in Europe generally had all sorts of local peculiarities and the differing style of tonsure and computation of Easter are viewed in that context rather than as evidence of a church independent of and hostile to Rome. Sadly, the myth of an independent Celtic Church still proves too attractive for many to abandon. It's probably even more attractive for those seeking a veneer of legitimacy and antiquity for modern preoccupations of gender equality, environmental concerns etc. Alas, some of those do include Catholics. As an actual Irish person (as opposed to a 'cardiac Celt') I have always found modern 'Celtic Christianity' carries a strong whiff of patronising neo-colonialism. It's a way for the descendants of those who were part of the Establishment to console themselves that they were really in the ranks of the oppressed all along. Ian Bradley's book 'Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams' examines the appropriation of the myth of the Celtic Church at different points in history and is just one of a number of works which examine this issue critically. Caitlin Corning's 'The Celtic and Roman Traditions' is also worth a read.

  2. Oh, I find 'Downton' plenty engrossing. Your era is the Fifties and Sixties. Mine is the 1920s. It's a good trip down memory lane, and the sublime acting sustains the occasional soapy bits. The show's creator is a Catholic and Tory peer in the House of Lords, so the old order gets its due and its denizens not the caricatured villains the sneering Guardian expects them to be portrayed as (they loathe the show). But 1/5th of the entire UK population watches it when it is aired.

    Last season is about to begin. When it ends, Lord Fellowes is coming to America to write a new series for NBC: "The Guilded Age", about the American families that divided their time between NY and Newport at the turn of the last century.

    It's sort of a nice segway, as the Countess of Grantham in 'Downton' is part of those families, married off to an English earl by her dowager industrialist mother (Shirley MacLaine) in the 1890s.


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