Sunday, February 21, 2016

Facebook ecumenism's ups and downs

Fr. David Straw and I are like fraternal twins: the same age, growing up in conservative pockets of the Episcopal Church so we were mugged by the same changes at the same time. In large part we share a culture, praying in the same English when I use English for worship and hearing the same hymns. Anglicanism at least since Jewel has claimed to be both Catholic and Reformed, so in our respective conversions we went in opposite directions, he Reformed (Reformed Episcopal, that is), I Catholic. (Reformed Christianity isn't schismatic Catholicism like Orthodoxy; it's a 1500s creation that claimed to restore primitive Christianity.) We share the Bible and the creeds, and Fr. Straw is of the modern Reformed Episcopal kind that accepts our externals (so crucifixes and chasubles are OK, and he goes by Father!) but still not our theology other than what I named. Reformed Episcopal vs. regular Anglican/Episcopal: the episcopate is nice to have but not essential; the Reformed Episcopal denomination was founded as a reaction against the then-new Anglo-Catholicism. So my criticisms of cultural Protestants (our American host culture) sometimes inadvertently push us one post or comment away from restarting the "Reformation" battle. (Political correctness/"the Cathedral"/the media-academia-government complex/SWPL, the Anglo-American ruling elite, is English Protestantism gone bad; Christian ethics no longer with Christian faith.) We have common cause in America's current culture war (people like us vs. the Sixties essentially) but 450 years ago in the mother country our sides were literally killing each other, in combat and at the stake and gallows, as Christians on both sides believed in that for the common good (and we didn't do it nearly as much as accused of, according to Eamon Duffy; torching the city of Exeter likely would have saved the church in England but the end doesn't justify the means). Infallible church or not? Holy Communion as Christ's sacrifice literally made present giving grace, the elements changed completely, or none of those things? Whose reading of the Church Fathers is right? No hard feelings personally, brother, but those are bigger than either of us.

I let a Catholic, someone who theologically agrees with me on everything and was otherwise very helpful to me, walk off my Facebook page because he was rude every time I mentioned not only the Anglicans — "Fakedty-fake!" — but the Anglo-Catholic alumni like me, in the church. Essentially, "you're not really Catholic, you're snobs," etc. Keep at it; the old folks at the National Catholic Reporter thank you.

A couple of years ago I was kicked off the Byzantine Christian pages (not Orthodox; they're supposed to be generally Byzantine) for defying the "Orthodox in communion with Rome" and their ecumenical Orthodox friends, or as I call them, the National Catholic Reporter but with a cool liturgy. Dumping half our doctrine to walk into schism is not an option, it's not OK for Catholics to switch if they feel like it, and the Greek Rite Catholics' self-latinizations have the right to be, alongside the unlatinized form of the rite.

Ecumenism's only achievement is we're no longer trying to kill each other.

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