Sunday, December 27, 2015

In the rear-view mirror: The Episcopal Church

Given recent events at Calvary Episcopal Church in Louisville, I am so very grateful to God that He led me to leave the Episcopal Church behind me. I shall never again look back; I shall never again set foot there.
My feelings about the Episcopal Church have mellowed and become more articulated over the years, but I don't give the denomination (its old high churchmen didn't see it as a denomination but the church) much thought these days, because I don't have to. I've gone from what I thought it was (part of the Catholic Church), to, having been knocked down by a combination of things about 35 years ago (English history, the Thirty-Nine Articles, women's ordination, and Spong), fighting to try to make it what I wished it were (the American Catholic Church having been hit by Vatican II and the Sixties, there seemed few hospitable places one could go; some Episcopal parishes hunkered down to ride out the Sixties like we should have), to now accepting it for what it is. I don't hate the Episcopalians or even the Episcopal Church. (Bishop Curry seems like a nice mainline minister.) I have lots of affection for Episcopalians, enjoying still sharing a culture with them, but indifference toward the Episcopal Church. It's hard for me to say this (and of course I sympathize more with classic Anglo-Catholics), but their liberal high churchmen are the new Anglo-Catholics, still sharing much with us traditional Catholics: the creeds, a high sacramentology, and a love of the Catholic Church's traditional culture, something we don't have in common with Catholic liberals! They're in the old high-church tradition, really believing they're the true church so we're in error; they don't want to return to the church. I understand and accept that. So much old-style ecumenism's a waste of time, but that doesn't mean I hate the Episcopalians. You couldn't bribe or threaten me to go back.

Makes me wonder how the Episcopal Church will end up. My guess is the few children of its old WASP stalwarts don't go to church anymore; that social convention before the Sixties is gone. It seems to be reinventing itself as a high-church and learned but "hip" alterna-Catholicism (Anglo-Catholicism but in a form the old high churchmen and classic A-Cs never intended). It has always scored a few converts from Catholicism and evangelicalism (the via media); looks like it has a small, niche-y future that way.

Perspective: for most of their history including (pictured, portrayed in the movies) 70 years ago today the main service in most of their churches was Morning Prayer, and my favorite English liturgical books, the Anglican missals and breviaries, were in fact banned in most dioceses.

Anglo-Catholic alumni moment this Christmas: quietly translating some of the "ordinary" at Midnight Mass for the Latinless, using the Anglican missals' translation from memory. Like dubbing.

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