Anglican Church of Our Saviour
Florence, South Carolina
+ + +
Services conform to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer
A House Divided
by Robert C. Harvey
Printed in the United States of America
1st Printing, July 1976
2nd Printing, Nov. 1976
3rd Printing, April 1977
4th Printing, July 1977
5th Printing, Nov. 1977
6th Printing, July 1978
7th Printing, Sept. 2003
"Mother Hive" from ACTIONS AND REACTIONS, copyright 1908 by Rudyard
Kipling. Reprinted by permission
of Mrs. George Bambridge and Doubleday & Company, Inc.
uploaded to the www with the author's
permission by Joe Sallenger,
Gofer-In-Chief for Church of Our Saviour Anglican Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. The Mother Hive
II. The Liberal Constitution
III. Decadence in the Parish
IV. Disruption in the Church
V. The Undoing of the Seminaries
VI. The Bending of the Mind
VII. The Uses of Power
VIII. The New and Ugly Shape of Man
IX. An Inside Witness (A Statement by Robert M. Strippy)
X. An Outside Witness
XI. Predestination a la Marx and Freud
XII. What's to Be Done?
Comments on Recent Books by
Robert C. Harvey
Five years before the outbreak of World War I -- and nearly ten years before the Russian Revolution -- Rudyard Kipling wrote a short story about the corruption and overthrow of a society. Like many political allegories, the tale was an animal story. The Mother Hive tells how a community of bees was infiltrated and destroyed by a wax moth who managed to get inside and lay her eggs.
Grey Sister (the wax moth) capitalized on the fact that the target hive was overcrowded, and that the stock had lost its vitality. She achieved her coup by lies, deceit and fraud. She arranged to get mentinside by creating a diversion at the gates. Once inside, she gathered a coterie of sympathizers -- the weak and dissident, who set no store by their own values or by those of the hive. Some of these were so giddy as to ascribe to the wax moth the virtues that are normal only to well-disciplined bees. These were a group that, in identifying with what was alien, not only lost the power to make distinction, but ultimately came to regard all distinction as discrimination. Other bees were so dissatisfied with their role as workers that they readily subscribed to Grey Sister's charge that the ancient and natural order of bees was unjust.
The first of these groups were the bleeding hearts. They were not revolutionaries by nature, but rather clung to the order of things. Still, their inability to believe in that order made it impossible for them to be what they were supposed to be, and consequently for the hive to be what a hive is supposed to be. It was only the second group who were the overthrowers, who actively turned against their own. Both, however, were turncoats. They were Grey Sister's falange of dissidents who brought about the hive's corruption and the destruction of its inhabitants.
When the aged Queen finally learned what was going on, she proceeded to the alighting-board and issued her swarming cry. The results are described in Kipling's words:
The roar which should follow the Call was wanting. They heard a broken grumble like the murmur of a falling tide.
"Swarm? What for? Catch me leaving a good bar-frame hive, with fixed foundations, for a rotten old oak out in the open where it may rain any minute! We're all right! It's a 'Patent Guaranteed Hive.' Why do they want to turn us out? Swarming be gummed! Swarming was invented to cheat a worker out of her proper comforts. Come on off to bed!" `01
The noise died out as the bees settled in empty cells for the night.
"You hear?" said the Queen. "I know the Hive."
"Quite between ourselves, I taught them that," cried the Wax-moth. "Wait until my principles develop and you'll see the light from a new quarter."
"You speak truth for once," the Queen said suddenly, for she recognized the Wax-moth. "That light will break into the top of the Hive. A Hot Smoke will follow it, and your children will not be able to hide in any crevice."
"Is it possible?" Melissa whispered. "I -- we have sometimes heard a legend like it."
"It is no legend," the old Queen answered, "I had it from my mother, and she had it from hers. After the Wax-moth has grown strong, a Shadow will fall across the gate; a Voice will speak from behind a Veil; there will be a Light, and Hot Smoke, and earthquakes, and those who live will see everything that they have done, all together in one place, burned up in one great fire." The old Queen was trying to tell what she had been told of the Bee Master's dealings with an infected hive in the apiary, two or three seasons ago; and, of course, from her point of view the affair was as important as the Day of Judgment.
"And then?" asked horrified Sacharissa.
"Then, I have heard that a little light will burn in a great darkness, and perhaps the world will begin again. Myself, I think not."
"Tut! Tut!" the Wax-moth cried. "You good, fat people always prophesy ruin if things don't go exactly your way. But I grant you there will be changes."
There were. When her eggs hatched, the wax was riddled with little tunnels, coated with the dirty clothes of the caterpillars. Flannelly lines ran through the honey-stores, the pollen-larders, the foundations, and, worst of all, through the babies in their cradles, till the Sweeper Guards spent half their time tossing out useless little corpses. The lines ended in a maze of sticky webbing on the face of the comb. The caterpillars could not stop spinning as they walked, and as they walked everywhere, they smarmed and garmed everything. Even where it did not hamper the bees' feet, the stale, sour smell of the stuff put them off their work; though some of the bees who had taken to egg-laying said it encouraged them to be mothers and maintain a vital interest in life.
When the caterpillars became moths, they made friends with the ever-increasing Oddities -- albinoes, mixed-Ieggers, single-eyed composites, faceless drones, half-queens and laying sisters; and the ever-dwindling band of the old stock worked themselves bald and fray-winged to feed their queer charges. Most of the Oddities would not, and many, on account of their malformations, could not, go through a day's field-work; but the Wax-moths, who were always busy on the brood-comb, found pleasant home occupations for them. `02
Kipling's tale turned out to be a prophetic one. In 1909 the world had had little intimation of the Marxist rule to come and relatively little of its souring philosophy. Yet the author could look through all of history for betrayal of the common weal. Fifth column would not develop until the Spanish Civil War, yet Trojan horse runs back to the time of Moses.
Kipling resolved the conflict in The Mother Hive by following nature's own procedure for saving bees -- having a Queen and a swarm of vigorous workers leave the diseased and dying hive. In so doing, however, he converted a political allegory into a moral and spiritual one. The allegory deals with the ruination of a culture, and finally with the conflict between Satan and the power of God. The author has his devoted worker, Melissa, block out a royal cell in the farthest and most corrupted corner of the hive. He has her obscure it with such foul rubbish that no creature will come near. He has her prevail upon the dying Queen to make one last effort to lay a worthy egg. He has Melissa's companion, Sacharissa -- the nursing worker-teach a few young workers the lost art of making royal jelly. And finally he converts this remnant into co-conspirators to nourish and protect the young Princess against the impending doom -- when the time will be right for swarming to new life beyond the hive. `03
II. THE LIBERAL CONSTITUTION
The little grey Wax-moth, pressed close in a crack in the alighting-board, had waited this chance all day. She scuttled in like a ghost, and, knowing the senior bees would turn her out at once, dodged into the brood-frame, where youngsters who had not seen the winds blow or the flowers nod discussed life. Here she was safe for the young bees will tolerate any sort of stranger.
A hundred years ago the Anglican churches had a quality they have since lost, though they have striven greatly to recover it. They were, to borrow a phrase from the Consultation on Church Union (COCU), "truly catholic, truly evangelical, truly reformed," This quality was theirs because their church had, from the beginning, been structured in three parts. For some members this had been a scandal, but for others it was Anglicanism's glory. It reflected an understanding of a God who is Himself triune.
There was an inside joke that Episcopalians used to describe the three elements in their church -- "high and crazy, low and lazy, broad and hazy." This was not an inaccurate description, especially when applied to ceremonial practice. High Church was "crazy" in that it used a Catholic ceremony that, for Protestants, was meaningless mumbo-jumbo. Low Church ceremony, though severely formal, was also severely simple, hence, "lazy." The Broad Church was made up of people whose interests were more sociological than theological. Their worship, like their teaching, was confined to what they regarded as "relevant," but for high and low churchmen it seemed to be merely hazy.
Ceremonial aside, there are solid reasons why a church such as England's should have developed a tripartite way of understanding and worshiping God. For God, if not tripartite, is triune, and each member of the Godhead has His own way of revealing Himself and of being worshiped and understood. God the Father is transcendent, and His revelation is embodied chiefly in Holy Scripture. God the Son is incarnate, revealed chiefly in His Church, and in the memoirs she has written. God the Holy Spirit is immanent, and his revelation is in "holy feelings" or "holy thoughts." This is a faculty that, in Anglican use, has been regarded corporately as Holy Reason. Only the last of these sources of divine revelation belong to the "now." The first two belong to the "then."
One can see why such a church must be as diverse in her views as were the fabled blind men who chanced upon an elephant, and who could not agree whether the animal was leg- or trunk- or tusk-shaped. High churchmen have `04 held a high doctrine of the Church, which has seemed to require a subordinate position for the Bible. Low churchmen were conversely high on Bible and low on Church. Broad churchmen were low on both Church and Bible, and high on Holy Reason and on science-supported logic.
Events of the past generation have brought a virtual end to this spectrum, and a new one has come to take its place. At least, it seems to be new, although its components are still Bible, Church and Reason. The realignment has been brought about by the confusion of our time, and by the spiritual and moral weakness of the age. For many Christians the old absolutes of Church and Bible have failed altogether; they are said to show only God-as-He-seemed-to-be and the relativities of past revelation. Therefore, it is held, such authority can be set aside, with the confidence that God-as-He-is-and-shall-be can be linked with Holy Reason.
As a result, the glory of Anglicanism has faded. The church that was a "bridge church" because it was the only one in the West to have any real triunity, has lost that balance and come under the domination of one of its three component parties. It is now like a three legged stool that has decided there is economy in having one leg do the work of the other two.
In the process of moving from a religious to a sociological view of man, the Anglican spectrum has rotated ninety degrees. It is now on a horizontal, rather than a vertical, plane, taking the posture familiar to any political situation. Rather than "high" and "low," the orientation is now "right" and "left." High churchmen and low churchmen are bundled unexpectedly and uncomfortably into a right wing, which is so labeled because both are traditionalist, i.e. both are dependent upon the revelation that God has given man in the past. The left wing consists of what are called "liberals" because, like liberals in the secular sphere, they take a "liberating" view of man. The titles, of course, are meaningless excepting as they impute a dependence upon past or present revelation. Actually, the classic liberal was more like the conservative than like the liberal of today. He sought maximum freedom for the individual in society -- but such freedom as could be borne responsibly. He expected an accountability by the individual to an authority outside himself, and he suffered license neither in the individual nor the group.
The Liberal's Constitution for the Church
In the contemporary understanding, what is a liberal? How do we recognize a liberal by what he says or does? What is the liberal's idea of the Church and of its life? What is the liberal myth -- that is to say, what is the unwritten constitution that dominates liberal thought and that provides a scenario for liberal action? How does that scenario differ from the traditional concept of the Church and of her life and work?
Basically, the liberal believes in the goodness of man. He accepts the witness of Genesis 1 as to the goodness of creation, but he rejects the testimony of Genesis 2 and 3 as to the greatness of man's fall. He cannot take seriously the view that man is prone to sin, and that once he has fallen it is virtually impossible for him to recover either his innocency or his virtue.
A corollary of his acceptance of man's goodness is the liberal's belief that `05 evil is primarily the result or ignorance, rather than of sin. As a result, he is committed to the idea of progress -- and indeed of the perfectibility of human society. Because of his belief in progress, he regards the present generation as the wisest and best-informed in the history of the race. And because of this he regards himself as singularly free. He is under no obligation to protect the continuity of his own people's past, but rather must be open to the truth, from whatever tradition it may come. In addition, he must be open to new revelations of truth, such as may not have been vouchsafed to anyone in the past.
It is a particular teaching of liberals that institutions created for the benefit of individuals tend to hurt, rather than help, them. This is an accompaniment of the basic doctrine; if man is innately good, he needs no institutions to further his goodness. He need be governed by no customs or traditions, or by others' value-systems. These things can only hinder his self-development, making him a slave, rather than "the free man God wants him to be."
Hence it is the liberals' conviction that the Church should be used for the reform of society rather than for the sanctification of individuals. Instead of ministering grace to its members and helping them to overcome a sense of sin and alienation they should not now have, the Church's task is to carry God's love to the oppressed and to the alienated and deprived. More than that, the Church is called to be the central, holy force for the reordering of society. It has the task not only of bringing God's love to the oppressed, but of seeing to their liberation, so that they can find themselves to be fully men.
Needless to say, the new liberalism has led the Church into a stance it has rarely held before -- and that it has never held, apart from immediate and urgent causes. It is a stance of official, doctrinal worldliness. The Church -- or at least those who dominate it -- regards the here-and-now as more important than the eternal. It regards the redressing of wrongs as more important than the sufferance of evil. It regards the causes of dissatisfied minorities -- whoever they may be and regardless of the legitimacy of their claims -- as more important than obedience to God's Law and the shepherding of His flock.
In the years prior to 1970 Episcopalians had several opportunities of seeing the ruthlessness of the liberals who had come to dominate the policymaking of the Church. [I say 1970 because, for reasons to be explained later, that was the year when the liberals shelved their designs for change in the social and economic spheres and concentrated on change within the Church.] One was in the way the General Convention Special Program (GCSP) was set up to give funds to people and agencies who had no commitment to Jesus Christ. Another was in the way 815 (the staff headquarters in New York) and the Executive Council abused that program by giving funds to groups that were openly committed to violence and -- in a few instances -- to the overthrow of constitutional government. A third was the way in which the liberal authors of this and other programs behaved when caught in violation of the ground rules imposed upon them by Convention.
This last fact ought, in 1970, to have convinced fearful right-wingers that `06 815 was not an arm of the Comintern. The true communist does not behave as the liberals did on that occasion. He is not so stubborn as not to bend when the tide is running against him. His tactic, rather, will be to give in to pressure, to accept the setback, and to transfer his attention elsewhere until the time is right for a return to the earlier point of pressure.
The Liberal's Constitution for Himself
There is one way in which the liberal differs from the old communist warhorse. He is not so much concerned with purposes as he is with persons. By contrast, the communist cares nothing for persons; in him there is no bleeding heart. And, where the communist is utterly unconcerned about the consistency of his position, the liberal has a horror of flip-flops in the party line. For him, consistency is an absolute necessity if a posture of unchanging love is to be maintained. As a consequence, he has an intense concern for appearances -- what the Japanese call face. He not only fears the thought of saying or doing something that is not strictly in accord with party line. He is apprehensive over any association that may link him with reactionaries.
In this, the liberal is behaving like a member of any ethnic group. ("Ours are the good guys, theirs are the bad guys.") But he is supposed to be no such thing. The liberal's cultus has the intention of transcending every ethnic boundary. To belong to such a cult, the liberal has denied every instinct that has tied him to an ethnic past. He has tried to identify himself with ethnics from a different background than his own. Unfortunately, such people, for the most part, do not want to be identified with him. They are suspicious of turncoats, and so the liberal winds up outside both camps -- a camp follower, as it were. In self-defense he identifies with the only others who are like himself -- those who also put "personhood" above principles. In such company, however, he finds himself in a continuing identity crisis, for identity requires definition and he will not allow himself to be defined. Who is he? What does he believe in? No one can say for sure.
The tragedy of liberalism, as we see it today, is that it comes close -- but not close enough -- to the stance required for successful mission. It is true that the Christian witness cannot sit at home in the security of his beliefs. He has got to be open and involved to the point of putting every treasure behind him and risking all for Jesus Christ. But this openness has got to be for the sake of the kingdom, and not for the meeting of one's psychic and social needs. The true witness cannot risk over-involvement when his task is to point to One whose kingdom is not of this world.
Long before Dietrich Bonhoeffer called Him "the man for others," the liberal was proclaiming the universal humanism of Jesus Christ. Such a gospel, however, is a distortion that we have suffered all too long. It has driven millions of young church folk into a mysticism that has nothing to do either with Christ or the good.
With the sincerity of his position beyond doubting, the liberal can best serve today by focusing on Christ's divinity rather than on His humanity, and by allowing his own belief to be enlarged. When the liberal has received God as He has revealed Himself, and when he has accepted the benefits of Christ's sacrifice upon the Cross, "openness" and "involvement" will find their real meaning. `07
III. DECADENCE IN THE PARISH
"Don't call me 'Miss.' I'm a sister to all in affliction -- just a working sister" . . . The Wax-moth caressed Melissa with her soft feelers and laid another egg.
"You mustn't lay here," cried Melissa. "You aren't a Queen."...
"Don't be unkind, Melissa," said a young bee, impressed by the chaste folds of the Wax-math's wing, which hid her ceaseless egg-dropping.
The seventh and eighth decades of our century have seen, more than any in our history, the blasting of our two most important institutions -- the family and the parish. In less than a generation, these prime bulwarks of society have been subject to such a shock that they have lost their power, their promise, and, to a large extent, their meaning.
Without getting into an explanation as to why this has happened, let a few case histories be witness to the fact. All of them are true, though with a few exceptions the names and places are disguised. They are told, not so much because they are scandalous as because they involve the kind of scandal that has never before happened in our world. It bespeaks a mentality that indicates people in the highest places have lost their wits -- and are leading their followers, lemming-like, into a terminal tide.
In the late 1950's the Reverend J. Worthington Gantry was called to be rector of St. Asaph's, Montmorency, a far suburb of Philadelphia. St. Asaph's was renowned as Cram's finest work, built at a time when Montmorency was the wealthiest and stateliest town in the country. By the fifties, however, the place had become down-at-heel. The great estates had been sold and converted into housing and industrial developments. The town houses had become rooming houses, providing shelter for a growing number of transients. The remnant of the once-proud families were haunted by the shabbiness they saw on every hand. The chief monument to Montmorency's past was the parish church itself -- and its two million dollar endowment, which would maintain the fabric against the inroads of time and decay.
Despite his new prestige, the incoming rector felt uneasy. St. Asaph's had for years been dominated by a few powerful men, whose connections with important people, both in the parish and in the church, enabled them to have their way. These men, who as wardens had been supported by an inside vestry, had succeeded in ousting two of the three previous rectors. As the new incumbent, the Reverend Mr. Gantry expressed the hope that the parish could be democratized, and that the principle of a rotating vestry could be adopted. `08
As it turned out, nothing could keep the old system going. In St. Asaph's, as elsewhere, the perpetual warden was a dying species. A leveling society no longer provided men and women who had the leisure, the wealth, the devotion or even the moral certainty to give a secular guarantee to the things of God. As a result, there was a transfer of power. Yet the effect was not salutary. The parish's control was not transferred from the few to the many; rather, it devolved from the few to the one. The fixed vestry was not supplanted by a rotating vestry. Rather, it was a whirling vestry, whose members were spun off and out of the system as rapidly as they gained an understanding of it. The dominance was gained by the rector, and the vestry became a rubber stamp.
The Meaningfulness of Christmas
Lancelot Lovelace's first assignment as curate was to stage the annual Christmas pageant, which packed the ancient church as no Prayer Book service had ever been able to do. Written in 1796 by the first rector, The Bethlehem Story had proved to be the most durable liturgy in the diocese. Its excess of traditionalism, however, had traditionally been offset by the sermonettes of St. Boniface's curates, who had by custom emceed the show.
Young Mr. Lovelace had broken tradition in one way by being the first curate to have a wife and children; his eight year old twins were the darlings of the parish. As it turned out, he was to break tradition in quite another way, using a modern translation in place of the time-honored King James' Bible. As parents and sundry relatives leaned back to hear the beloved line, "with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child," they heard instead, "He took with him Mary, his fiancee, who was obviously pregnant by that time."
The congregation's ruffled feelings were soothed when Mr. Lovelace recounted the story of Mary and Joseph and the Christ child. He did it with simplicity and charm, and concluded by pointing out that the important thing about the Bethlehem event is not what may actually have happened, but how one responds to it. To illustrate his point, he told how Lucy and Lisa had come to him the previous Christmas to ask what Christmas meant. His answer had been, "Girls, you shouldn't ask me what Christmas means. You should ask yourselves. You should ask, 'What does Christmas mean to me?'" At this the congregation sighed with relief. The curate was one of them after all.
One veteran Church School teacher, however, was not impressed. She was Lucy's and Lisa's own teacher. The next Sunday in class Mrs. Kyd asked the girls how they had reacted to their daddy's advice. Lucy turned to Lisa, thought for a moment, and then spoke for both, "We told daddy that we didn't know what Christmas meant. We wanted to know what it meant to him and everyone else."
The Ministry of Healing
In March of 1965 Dr. Alfred Price, the warden of the Order of Saint Luke the Physician, held a three day mission of spiritual healing in Morristown, `09 New Jersey. Hundreds of people flocked to the services, and nearly a hundred professional people -- doctors, nurses and clergy -- came to a lunch, where they could meet and hear the well-known Philadelphia rector.
At a question and answer session at the end of Dr. Price's talk, it became evident that several of the younger clergy regarded the idea of prayer for the sick and the laying on of hands as an aberration. "How can you waste your time dealing with sick individuals," one young priest asked Dr. Price, "when the world's sickness is crying out to be dealt with?"
Dr. Price endeavored to satisfy the young man's concerns, realizing they were shared by a number of his colleagues. He cited the New Testament to show how, for His hearers, Jesus' miracles were proof that His preaching and teaching were true. He showed how bodily healing was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and a proof that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. He demonstrated from the Bible how a healing ministry is a mandate from Jesus Himself -- not only for clergy, but for lay people as well. Dr. Price's young hearers were not convinced. They remained firm in their belief that the healing of souls and bodies was a waste of time, if not an impossibility, and that the Church's real mission is to heal the sick structures of a capitalist and imperialist world.
The Holiness Fathers
Shortly after the Trial Rite was introduced in 1971, Thad Hemmings went to his first jazz mass. It was at Grace Church, Montgomery, and was put on by the Holiness Fathers, assisted by some sisters of the Order of St. Clementine.
At the time, Thad was a college sophomore, dedicated to campus rebellion and filled with outrage over racism, pollution, Vietnam and the military-industrial complex. While still on good terms with his parents, he sturdily refused to trim his hair -- on the grounds he would be betraying his generation.
Thad went to the jazz mass with some reservations. A week or so earlier he had been invited to a College Open House at the rectory of his own church to meet the famed university chaplain, Bertram Butt. The rector, beaming with pride, had introduced Father Butt as "one who has something to say to the youth of today." But as Thad soon found out, Butt had nothing to say. It was a fact that was only partly concealed behind the chaplain's discreet obscenity and his glib use of academic jargon. Thad asked some penetrating questions, trying to find Fr. Butt's loyalties and commitment. But there seemed to be none.
The jazz mass was something else. The brothers and sisters had staged an elaborate setting for the youngsters who were expected from all over Madison County. The church hall was filled with gas-filled balloons, crepe paper backdrops, great pyramids of colored cardboard cubes, and the mind-bending scream of electric guitars.
The next morning the young man met his father at breakfast. "How was the jazz mass?" he was asked, as the senior Hemmings put aside his paper. Thad paused a moment before giving his answer, "Dad, I hate to say this, but I'm afraid it's true. Those monks are deliberately trying to widen the generation gap." `10
A Terminal Case
Christopher Crowell ought to have known better. He was already, at 34, one of the cardinal rectors in the diocese, and his success up to this point had consisted, at least in part, in being the kind of priest people expected him to be. When he had been interviewed two years earlier by the St. Mark's calling committee, he had seemed like a rock of conservative dependability.
But now, secure in his post, he seemed ambitious to be something else. His sermons had changed; he was not speaking of Jesus Christ, but for the need of improvement in the secular world. His gospel of love consisted chiefly in making people feel uncomfortable for the sins of their kind. His new identification as a saved (or, rather, a liberated) person was not with those who looked up to him, but with his clerical compeers. As an "open, aware and sensitive person," he was drawn to the kind of priests who were to be found in the wealthier parishes and in the key diocesan committees. There were those who were saying that Christopher Crowell's chief aim was now to be bishop.
When the senior warden came to see young Crowell, however, the priest behaved like a lad who's been caught with his hand in grandmother's cookie jar. "Rector, I've been asked by several people to speak with you about a pastoral matter we feel you've mishandled."
"We understand that when Mrs. Lydecker was dying she asked for you to bring her Holy Communion."
"Yes, she did. What about it?"
"It seems that when you arrived with the Sacrament you were wearing sneakers and tennis shorts."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Don't you see any absurdity in that? Or even any profanity?"
"Well, you're the only one I've talked to who doesn't, and I can tell you I've talked to quite a few. Most of the people who know about this feel it's an outrage."
"Jeff, I was playing tennis when they called me from the hospital, and I rushed over there as fast as I could."
"Your secretary says that Mrs. Lydecker sent word to you two days before."
"That doesn't matter, Jeff. The important thing is that what I was carrying was the Body and Blood of Christ. What I was wearing couldn't have affected the validity of the Sacrament."
"You could easily have slipped on a cassock over your tennis clothes. You had to go to the church to get your communion set."
"A cassock in Community Hospital -- with sneakers? Now that would be absurd."
"Rector, there's only one thing your parishioners are concerned about, and it has nothing to do with the way you looked. It has to do with the regard you have for your people. The nurse told one of the family that when `11 Mrs. Lydecker saw you she was so shocked that she couldn't receive, and that she died without making her communion. She said that instead of going back and changing your clothes, you gave Mrs. Lydecker the same argument you're giving me."
The rector began to expostulate, but was cut off with a wave of the warden's hand, "Here's how we feel about the matter. We feel you let a dying woman down. And in letting her down you have let everything else down -- your ministry, your congregation and the Lord, whose servant you are supposed to be."
Laypersons Plain and Fancy
The diocesan convention was an eye opener to the delegation from St. Agnes' Plainville. Excepting for the rector, none had even been to a convention before. To make matters worse, the three knew too little about the church to vote with any confidence or even to venture an opinion. They felt like country bumpkins in a big city -- awed by other people's assurance and embarrassed by their own inadequacy. Jim Petrovich was a retired Navy CPO who was now working as a security guard. Gertrude Pfaff was a widow with a precarious living and many mouths to feed. Nancy Brown was a retired schoolteacher who was terrified at the thought of speaking into a microphone. To make matters worse, the arrangements committee had separated the St. Agnes' deputation from its own archdeaconry of little churches and plain people, and seated it among the delegations of some of the wealthiest churches in the country.
It was an unfortunate mistake, for the convention was debating some of the most sweeping changes in order and worship that had ever been proposed, and the St. Agnes' people found themselves intimidated by those at the nearby tables. Every one of them seemed to be tall, handsome, fashionably attired and "involved" -- ready to sound off vigorously and articulately on whatever matter was at hand. In addition, they seemed all to be of one mind. When they voted, the twelve Jefferson county churches did so as a bloc. On a resolution for the priesting of women, for example, they stood as a body when the ayes were counted, and cheered when the tabulations were announced. They made plain their disapproval of the one resolution St. Agnes' offered -- that diocesan meetings be held on evenings or weekends so that working people could be active members of the various commissions.
As the delegation was returning home, Jim Petrovich turned to the rector and said, "Gosh, Father Bill, I felt like a fish out of water! You know me, I usually get up on my feet and air my views, but with that gang looking down our throats I didn't have the nerve to open my mouth."
Before the rector could reply, Gertrude Pfaff spoke up from the back seat, "Did you notice that woman at the next table -- the one who was chain smoking and who had her hair swept back into a bun? All day long she kept looking over at us like she wanted to spit on us, and when I stood up to vote against women's ordination I thought she'd rush over and tear my eyes out."
The rector half turned about so as to be heard in the back. "You've got to realize that these people are the affluent Americans. They're bright and well `12 educated and accustomed to getting their way. And they think they know what's best for the rest of us. If we don't agree with them they don't think of it as simple disagreement. As they see it, we have to be sick. If they're just plain rich they think of us as only entitled to half a vote. If they're young and liberal as well, they regard us as racist, sexist, reactionary chauvinists. You name it and that's what we are to them,"
Miss Brown, who had been silent all day, now chimed in. "When I was young we used to be a simple two-class society, and most of us were happy that way. My family was poor, but we had nothing against the affluent because that was what, some day, we wanted to be ourselves. Now we're supposed to be a classless society and yet there are more classes than you can count -- each depriving another one of its 'rights.' What nonsense! I'm supposed to feel guilty because I'm white, and I'm supposed to feel cheated because I'm a woman and old and poor. Well, I don't feel that way at all." `13
IV. DISRUPTION IN THE CHURCH
The Wax-moth crept forth, and caressed Melissa again.
"I see, " she murmured, "that at heart you are one of Us. "
"I work with the Hive," Melissa answered briefly.
"It's the same thing. We and the Hive are one."
"Then why are your feelers different from ours?"
It takes some time for a sound bee to realize a malignant and continuous lie. "She's very sweet and feathery," was all that Melissa thought, "but her talk sounds like ivy honey tastes."
The spring of 1970 saw the gravest domestic crisis the U.S. had known since the Civil War. A decade of tension over Vietnam and several years of racial violence in the cities had been followed by a series of bombings and killings that caused jitters throughout the land. The impending trial of Black Panther Bobby Seale, the courtroom murders in San Rafael, the blasting of the Wisconsin research center as a protest against the "military-industrial complex," random bombings by Weathermen and other student radicals -- all left the American public in a state of shock. When, to these, there was added the student outrage over Cambodia and the killings at Kent State, the stock market took its worst plunge in forty years. It was on the ninth of May that a sleepless President -- after making fifty telephone calls between 10:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. -- drove out to the Lincoln Memorial for a pre-dawn conversation with students there on vigil.
On the 22nd of the same month, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church reacted in the same panicky way. In a resolution approved that day, the Council, acting in the church's name: 1) demanded an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. armed forces from Southeast Asia, 2) demanded a drastic reduction of strategic forces elsewhere in the world, 3) protested the government's harassment of Black Panthers and use of National Guard and police in killing students, 4) expressed support of striking and rioting students, and 5) called for a voluntary church offering to finance future strikes and to enable students to engage in "political education campaigns" directed at their elders.
As a result of this Council resolution, several hundred parish vestries wrote or wired their censure. This sign of spontaneous and widespread dissatisfaction with the church's leadership, had little effect on decisions at the top. It took direct action from Washington to change the church's mind.
On September first a postcard was sent to all clergy by the Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. John E. Hines, "Plans for a proposed offering on the 3rd Sunday in September 'for the support of student strike activities, including their political education campaigns, have been suspended pending further action by the Executive Council at its meeting in October. . . The Internal Revenue Service has advised that implementation of the offering will jeopardize `14 the tax-exempt status of the Domestic and foreign Missionary Society."
It is an ironic fact that the concerns of churchmen -- expressed for so long and in so many ways -- should for years have been ignored by their leaders, while one threatening letter from the I.R.S. should bring their whole program to a screeching, grinding halt. Yet that is what happened. At its very next meeting the Executive Council rescinded the controversial resolution.
Yet the liberal spirit would not be quenched. After all, the liberals were still in the seats of power, and were less likely to be put out of office than would have been the case were they the chosen leaders of the State. Deprived of their ability to work for the radical change of society, they began to labor for the radical change of the Church. From 1970 on their social programs became a side issue, and they concentrated upon things the State could hardly object to, such as Prayer Book change and ordination of women to the sacred priesthood. It was only after they achieved some assurances of success in this direction that they began once more to broach matters that must concern the state, such as the civil rights of homosexuals and the right, for women, of abortion-upon-demand.
La Dolce Vita, Clergy Style
It was the summer of '75. Two priests were having lunch together, and their talk turned to the state of the church. Here is a fragment of their conversation:
"Bob, if you think sensitivity training is undermining authority, think what it may be doing to morality and behavior. Do you remember Gus Briggs? He was a year ahead of me at seminary. Well, Gus was a priest in Milwaukee until a couple of years ago. He had a wife and three children, and seemed as happily married as any of us. Then he went out to California for a three week seminar at the Esalen Institute."
"Well, it's hard for me to believe this myself, knowing them both. But the minute he got home he said, 'I want a divorce.'"
"Wow! How did his wife take it? What did she say?"
"She was crushed. And when she asked why he wanted a divorce, he said, 'I've decided that marriage is just not my life style.'"
The conversation continued in the same vein, dealing with the demoralization of the times and the seeming inability of the Church to speak with firmness or authority. At length the host said, "Here's an example of what I mean. Did you know that here, in this diocese, there are four priests -- all separated from their wives and living openly with other women -- who are working regularly as supply priests?"
"You've got to be kidding!"
"I am not. I'm serious. There are four men here who were rectors in big churches, who had to resign because they were having affairs and their congregations found out about it. But outside their parishes it seems they are still considered fit. The people in the churches where they supply don't know, of course, about their way of living, and the bishop seems willing to allow it -- on the grounds that what people don't know won't hurt them." `15
"Haven't any of the clergy complained about this?"
"Only one that I know of."
Francis Etheridge has more than once been called "the lay pope of the diocese." Though still in his middle forties, he has been his parish's representative to diocesan convention for nearly twenty years. For nearly ten years he has been his diocese' deputy to General Convention as well. Seattle, South Bend, Houston, Louisville -- all are a part of his background, and in them he has left his mark upon the Church as well.
Today Francis Etheridge has more clout than any priest in the diocese, and is more influential in decision-making than anyone excepting the bishop. Over the years he has been chairman or member of nearly every important commission in the diocese, and is a fixture on the Diocesan Council. He is the envy of the clergy for his freedom from the cares and burdens they must bear, and for his intimacy and familiarity with the bishops.
This does not mean that Etheridge has the warmth or the wisdom and wit to make him a lay prince of the church. He does not, but rather is unimaginative, impersonal and deadly serious. His qualifications for being a pillar of the church are the background things: family, schooling, wealth, looks and demeanor. More importantly, Etheridge is a born bureaucrat. His years in the law have developed an aptness for double-talk, and his contacts with the clergy have further salted his speech with ecclesiastical jargon. Using such terms as thrust, involvement, participatory democracy, I hear you saying, I move you, he can anesthetize the minds of all but the wariest listener.
Only in recent years have the people of Holy Innocents' begun to sense the harm their support of Francis Etheridge has done both to themselves and to the Church. Originally, his preference for diocesan affairs seemed an idle whim. Most of the real workers in the parish were dedicated to the parish itself, and it was felt that delegates to convention should be the fringe types -- the young and available, the rector-worshipers, or the kind who were active in the League of Women Voters.
Yet, as Holy Innocents' became increasingly alert to the goings-on in the church, its people became aware of the desperate need for convention deputies who would represent their people's minds. With mounting alarm they learned of manipulations, scandals and infidelities on high -- both in the diocese and in the national church. What bothered them most was the knowledge that their elected representatives were dedicating their holy offerings, not to relieving the poor, but to overthrowing the whole social order. This was true not just of those they read about, but of Francis Etheridge as well. It was said of him that at an elegant dinner at Sally Vanderbilt's he had spoken up, as the guests were seated, with the words, "Silence, please." Thinking he might be about to say grace, they had dutifully lowered their heads -- whereupon Francis Etheridge lifted his wine glass and loudly proclaimed, "To black power!"
It was not until the Philadelphia affair in July, '74, however, that Holy Innocents' learned what it was really like to be betrayed. The congregation `16 had taken years to learn of Etheridge's contempt for them, and now they found the extent of his infidelity to the church. At that time he presented the parish's curate, Samantha Smull, for "ordination to the priesthood." In behalf of an unknowing congregation and an unwilling diocesan, he certified her to three unfaithful bishops.
The events of the year that followed were more of unholy confusion than of holy order, but they led to one resolve on the part of the people of Holy Innocents' -- that Francis Etheridge should no more represent them. When, at the annual meeting, his name appeared as a candidate both for vestry and diocesan convention, the voters had their revenge. Etheridge ran last on both counts.
However, the mills of the electoral gods grind slowly. Francis Etheridge had been thoroughly repudiated at home, but his infidelities were as yet unknown to people beyond the parish. Sure enough, when the time came 'round for diocesan convention, Etheridge's absence was scarcely noted. Few of the delegates knew that he had been Samantha Smull's presenter. Even fewer knew how his congregation felt. He was still a "lay pope" by the possession of a name that had not been besmirched beyond the boundaries of his parish. He still carried weight in the church because some people found him useful despite his infidelity, and because others were too timid to accuse him, and because the great majority either did not know or did not care. In short, he was overwhelmingly reelected as a deputy to the forthcoming General Convention.
The Hijacking of the U.T.O. (United Thank Offering)
During the years that General Convention had been involved with the extension of the Gospel, it had been a task of the Women's Auxiliary to engage in works of charity. The men who were deputies to Convention had provided for missions at home and abroad, for seminaries, and for all the time-honored ways of winning the world to Jesus Christ. The women, at their triennial meetings, had given to the work that was a secular accompaniment of missions -- like hospitals and clinics -- and had established agencies ranging from the care of the poor and needy to the rehabilitation of criminals, alcoholics, the blind and dumb, as well as unwed mothers. The concern might, in today's jargon, have been called "total involvement." It was accepted, however, that the Church would not engage in some new task until everyone was agreed.
By the middle sixties Walter Rauschenbusch's Social Gospel had given an entirely new twist to the meaning of involvement. His message had penetrated the church sufficiently to give plausibility to the idea that helping the poor meant helping them to get their rights. It had won credence for the belief that giving to the poor meant not only "giving what is ours," but "giving what is someone else's," and "giving that which rightfully belongs to the poor." The social Gospel's apparatus, which included bureaucracies, programs, pressures, promotion and manipulation, had acquired enough of a vested interest for its edicts to be issued from on high.
When the Episcopal Churchwomen's delegates went to Seattle in 1967, `17 they found that the hierarchy had taken over entirely, and that the only prerequisite to participation was a mind uncluttered by commitment -- a tabula rasa, as it were. They were told that the Church was changing its priorities, and that the new concern was a "total" one -- the urban crisis in America.
During the first four days of the triennial the delegates had no opportunity to hold either committee or plenary meetings. Instead, each diocesan delegation was brought together with those of two other dioceses, and required to engage in small-group discussion of three questions only:
1) What do we understand the Urban Crisis to be?
2) What should the response of this Triennial Meeting be to the Urban Crisis?
3) Can we examine the consequences of action we propose to take here to our own parish or diocese?
Understandably, the delegates were frustrated. They had expected parliamentary procedures, and were shunted into the simpleton structures of the buzz session. They had expected the customary division of labor among specialized committees. Instead, they got the T-group, whose leader forbids the development of agenda until "confrontation" assures which way the group is going.
As a result, the churchwomen devoted a large part of the United Thank Offering to the Urban Crisis Fund. Four days of sensitivity training had exhausted their psychic and moral defenses, and had left them with concern only for one another. Gone was the sense of representing the interests of the women back home. Gone was the commitment those women had made to the hundreds of projects and thousands of people for whom their churches had held a sheltering concern. They had surrendered the legislative process entirely. They had become a rubber stamp instead of a determinative body. For the first time the women had given their offering to the hierarchy, leaving the U.T.O. with no reserve to meet emergencies during the three years that lay ahead.
The Campus "Square"
For eight of his ten years as Episcopal chaplain, Jim Alexander had been chosen by seniors as one of the most popular figures on the Winchester State campus. And for eight of those years he was supported by the Church in the performance of his job. A big, outgoing man, Father Alexander was the older-brother type. He projected the values and virtues that youngsters longed to see and that parents wished they had. Even though a young man, his experience was broad and his commitment deep; he was able to preach Christ by example rather than dictum. His personal philosophy was the homespun type. He was concerned with God and country, with the needs of society as well as of individuals, with sound manners and self-respect. His simplicity of life and purity of expression told his charges all they needed to know about the meaning of inner discipline and restraint. `18
It was not in his relations with students, but with the diocese, that Father Alexander's problems were to come. In the late sixties, as students' hair grew long and their fuses short, there were those in high places who were concerned over the chaplain's lack of "involvement," over his seeming inability to change with the times, and above all over his unwillingness to adopt the goals of campus revolutionaries.
Actually, in the years when student protest was the angriest, Winchester State was one of the least involved of the great universities. The chaplain's proteges were the straightest of the straight. They included campus athletes, beauty queens and every intellectual type. On the chapel's board of student governors were six of the eight junior Phi Beta Kappas; only one was an Episcopalian.
If the university was conservative, the state was even more so. The liberal Establishment had never gotten a footing in the commonwealth, and was only beginning to do so through the Church. The principal change-agent was the Episcopal bishop, Benjamin Arnold, whose election in 1960 meant one thing: the controlling clique at church headquarters was determined to radicalize the Diocese of Penrhyn, and to use its endowments to support their programs elsewhere. In his earliest years as diocesan, Bishop Arnold had gotten himself the staff he wanted and had used his power as rector of the diocesan missions to install a number of young revolutionaries as vicars. In addition, he had arranged for the choice of several outstanding liberal clergy as cardinal rectors in the diocese. By 1970, when the campus' rebellion was at fever heat, the bishop was ready to use his weight in the affairs of Winchester State.
Father Alexander's first run-in with the bishop came when the latter asked him to become involved in the defense of the Students for a Democratic Society, at a time when the S.D.S. was under fire for its connection with the Weathermen and for its own violence directed toward companies with Defense Department contracts. The chaplain refused; he would have nothing to do with S.D.S. and would not engage in the smokescreen tactics the bishop was suggesting. The bishop then joined forces with the Methodist chaplain, who had been an S.D.S. supporter all along, and they worked together until their joint repudiation led to the bishop's resignation and subsequent appointment to a more strategic post in New York.
The new bishop, Gaylord Wimpel, went even further than had his predecessor; one of his first acts was to appoint a committee for chaplaincies, whose task was to make a yearly evaluation of the role and the work of the various chaplains, and to recommend budgets for their work. As a result, Father Alexander found his budget cut substantially. His relations with the diocese were further strained when he was drawn into another matter: an investigation into the management of the diocesan camp. For several years, it had developed, young people at the camp had been permitted, with only mild disapproval, to use drugs, and were now being given sensitivity training while in a freaked-out condition. The chaplain's part in the matter lay in his demand for an investigation into the death of one of his girl students, who after one of these sessions and the use of drugs, had tried to fly from a cliff, and had fallen to her death. `19
It was not long before Father Alexander's own ministry was under investigation. At the demand of a student radical, an appointee of the bishop's to the Diocesan Council, full scale hearings on the Winchester State chaplaincy were undertaken. The bishop's committee interviewed a number of students who testified to the "irrelevancy" of Father Alexander's ministry. (All of them, the chaplain later told a friend, were addicted to drugs.) His accusers were joined by two faculty members, who later became the local vanguard of "gay liberation."
A difficulty faced by the chaplain was the failure of the committee to have a quorum when his own witnesses were scheduled to appear. Repeatedly he found himself unable to be represented by anyone other than himself. The final sitting, however, brought together the entire committee and all of those whose testimony the chaplain sought to present. In addition to the bishop's appointees, there sat with the committee -- ex officio -- the Church's Executive Secretary for Higher Education, the Rev. Phanuel Thugg, and his lay assistant, Dr. Washington Bridge.
In their informal introductions prior to the meeting, Fr. Thugg behaved with a candor remarkable to one in his position. When introduced to the president of the student body, he made a wry face and said, "Big deal." In meeting Bill Grove, the famed halfback (now a star player for the Miami Dolphins), he ignored the young man's outstretched hand and squatted on the floor like a chimpanzee, arms akimbo and digging his fingers into his sides, "Yip, yip, yip, yip, the All-American boy!"
Most stunning was Fr. Thugg's assessment of Andrea Somerfield, while the coed was entering the room. Miss. Somerfield was a lovely blonde girl who had been homecoming queen and who was vice president of the chapel committee. Before any introduction could be made, Fr. Thugg remarked in a loud voice, "Oh ho, the campus virgin." Then, as the girl stared at him, blushing furiously, he dug his elbow into Dr. Bridge's ribs, "Two to one she'll graduate from this place without ever being f---d."
The executive secretary proved to be the investigation's undoing. Even a determined committee was unable to hound the chaplain further in the face of Thugg's behavior. Soon after its findings were returned, however, Father Alexander resigned his chaplaincy, accepting a post at the university as assistant professor of speech and drama. He is still there, exercising his priesthood in a very minor way. His replacement, as might be guessed, turned out to be a radical priest -- anti-U.S., anti-capitalist and anti-college administration. The church had finally gotten a chaplain at Winchester State who was "open" and "involved." `20
V. THE UNDOING OF THE SEMINARIES
The Oddities . . . would sing of work among the merry, merry blossoms till an untrained ear might have received it for the hum of a working hive. Yet, in truth, their store-honey had been eaten long ago. They lived from day to day on the efforts of a few sound bees, while the Wax-moth fretted and consumed their already ruined wax. But the sound bees never mentioned these matters. They knew, if they did, the Oddities would hold a meeting and ball them to death.
Nowhere is the vaunted freedom of the Anglican Church more manifest than in her seminaries; they range from catholic to unitarian, from secular to ascetic, from "liberated" to carefully governed. In this respect they are true of the Church, for her main hallmark -- freedom -- is what lies behind her tolerance, her inclusiveness and, above all, her success in producing people of imagination, enterprise and achievement.
It may be supposed that this freedom is what has brought our difficulties upon us, yet this seems not to be the case. We find proof in the experience of two of our sister churches where freedom has been almost nonexistent -- the Roman Catholic and the Missouri Synod Lutheran. The Romans have had tight discipline from beginning to end. They have sought vocations to priesthood at an age when Anglicans would be urging reluctant lads to confirmation. They have enforced a rigorous control over both clergy and laity, not only as youngsters, but through the whole of their lives. Yet their church is gravely shaken by liberalism because their leaders were never exposed, as youths, to the hazardous possibilities of broad-gauged thought and action. By contrast, the Lutherans have given their clergy and congregations a great deal of freedom, once they were mature. But even this polity has come a cropper with the invasion of the seminaries by a few determined and self-seeking men.
Our Anglican difficulties are, it would appear, brought on by three factors that are in force everywhere, and nowhere more so than in the U.S.A. One is the rise of liberalism to the point where it is no longer an authentic element in a delicately balanced church, but the controlling force in a nearly totalitarian situation. A second factor is the timidity and insecurity that leads those with the highest responsibilities to be the first to compromise. A third is the egomania that leaves it up to man to decide what is right and wrong.
Touching the seminaries, there are three popular notions that seem to be `21 at the heart of much that troubles the church. One is the notion that the ministry should be open to those who desire it, rather than to those who -- even against their wills -- are genuinely called by God. Another is the notion that the hallmark of the Christian is not self-denial, but self-affirmation. The third is that the primary function of seminaries is to educate, rather than to train, the priest.
Nowhere in the church's recent literature is this platform more clearly implied than in the 1967 Pusey Report [Ministry for Tomorrow, Report of the Special Committee on Theological Education (New York, Seabury Press, 1967).], whose authors proposed a set of new roles to replace "archaic" forms of traditional ministry. Today, only nine years later, the idea of new roles has been scrapped, and liberals are using every effort to force into the old forms those who, in the past, were not admissible. The liberal platform, however, remains intact. The ministry is an elite corps -- open to anyone who wants to try. It is Christian to do one's thing, and old hat to be restrained by conscience. The priest is a professional, and entitled to the same considerations and courtesies as the lawyer or the doctor. In all this there is not a shred of the humility and the sense of vocation that is expressed in St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians:
You see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called . . . but God hath chosen the weak . . . that no flesh should glory in his presence.
A Bill of Particulars
Not long ago two clergy met for lunch in a small restaurant in New York. Seminary classmates at Exmouth, they had not seen each other since their ordination eighteen years earlier, and as it developed they had far more in common in 1975 than they had seemed to have in 1957. At that time the younger, Ralph Waiters, had been an evangelical low churchman, and openly critical of the "spikey-ness" of Exmouth's brand of religion. Walters had been the top man in his class, and had had strongly in mind the possibility of teaching in seminary -- but another seminary, not Exmouth. By contrast, Bliss Cunningham's was a late vocation. Already in his mid-forties, Cunningham had had a successful career in advertising, and was one of many whom the Lord seemed to be sending to fill the ministry at a time of clergy shortage. Unlike his fellow priest, Cunningham had come to seminary a convinced catholic -- dedicated to the seven sacraments and to the authority of Holy Mother Church.
It did not take long for the two to settle down on the reason for their meeting. Walters was hostile to the seminary's proposal to discontinue Greek and Hebrew from its curriculum, and was trying to build alumni pressure for their continuance. "Bliss," he said, "you came to Exmouth under the old man's canon, didn't you?"
"Well, in a way. I was only there a year, but I took all the canonical `22 courses for the middle and senior classes."
"How is it that you took New Testament Greek?"
"Well, you may remember that old Dr. Yerkes tutored me for three years while I was still in the advertising business. When Bishop Bostwick accepted me as a postulant, he told Dr. Yerkes that he would dispense me in Greek, and R.K.Y. said, 'In that case, I will not accept him as a pupil.'"
"Ho, ho! And how did he put that over?"
"He said to the bishop, 'I regard Greek not as dispensable, but as the one indispensable subject. How can you ordain a man to be an interpreter of a book he can't even read?'"
"That's putting it on the line. But how did that set with you?"
"What kind of answer can you make to logic like that? I studied the Greek so hard that when I got to Exmouth I had a bigger vocabulary than anyone in the middle class."
"Oh, I wish to God that we had that kind of commitment today. You know, Greek and Hebrew have been optional for the last twelve years, but it's more than five years since anyone has elected Hebrew, And now they want to close the department and end the option on the ground that the biblical languages are an irrelevant frivolity in today's world."
Walters' face reflected his disgust as he ground out his cigarette, The two sat moodily for a few moments.
At length Cunningham spoke. "Ralph, you know more about the seminaries than anyone I know, and I was there such a short time -- and took such a heavy load of courses -- that I never got the feel of the institution itself. What do you see as the problem we have with the seminaries, and what kind of answers do you think can be worked out?"
"Well, Bliss, as I see it the problem extends in every direction. Perhaps it begins in the seminaries' independence. They have to raise their own funds, so they can't be altogether accountable to the Church. And because they must be solvent to survive, they are more concerned with their students as tuition-payers than they are as potential priests. During the Vietnam war they took a lot of draft dodgers just to pad out their rolls -- so now we have a lot of priests whose calling is dubious, to say the least. In the past few years they've taken large numbers of girls for the same reason, and the result is an artificially built-up demand to ordain women to the priesthood. The cult of permissiveness has turned the seminaries from screening out the latent homosexuals to screening in the active ones, and just as with the C.O.'s and the girl graduates, we now have an interest group with theological degrees -- and a built-in 'right' to be ordained."
"What you're saying is that instead of new ministries being determined by the church, they're being determined by the seminaries -- and for all of the wrong reasons."
"That's right, and there are two other things that I find disturbing. One is the permissiveness that allows a seminarian to take whatever courses he wants to, and that requires him to go to chapel only when he feels like it. The other is the curriculum itself. It's unbelievable how secular the seminaries have become."
"Ralph, if you remember, Exmouth was a pretty worldly place when you `23 and I were there."
"Bliss, believe me, it's nothing like it is now. I got a catalogue from Exmouth just a week ago, and I looked over it very carefully to see how it compared with the canonical studies that were required of every candidate for holy orders up until 1970. And you may not believe this, but it's true. Exmouth is now offering courses on psycho-drama, on protest, on aggression and survival, economic justice, guerrilla theater, psychotherapy, social change. But it offers almost nothing on the Christian religion as you and I were taught it. There's not a single comprehensive course on the history of the Western Church, and nothing at all on Eastern Orthodoxy. There's only one course on the history of mission, and none on overseas missions today. There's nothing on the doctrine of grace, nothing on the sacraments, nothing on the spiritual life. You can take more than a dozen courses on black theology and black sociology, but nothing on mystical experience. There are plenty of courses on such institutions as the family, the city, and the "Establishment." But there's nothing on the institution Our Lord founded. You can take more than two dozen courses on counseling, but none on prayer. It's hard for me to guess what the faculty at Exmouth are trying to do, but there's one thing I'm sure they're trying not to do -- turn out priests who are holy men of God."
The Post-Prayer Book Generation
During the summer of 1975, Fr. George Manners spent two months in an inner city St. Louis parish, freeing a seminary classmate for a much-needed vacation with his wife. The parish, St. Petroc's, is in a decaying neighborhood now occupied chiefly by Hispanic peoples. One of each Sunday's two masses is said in Spanish, using the Book of Common Prayer.
In late August, at a Spanish celebration, Fr. Manners noticed a neatly dressed young man among the communicants. At the service's close he learned the young man was a senior at the Episcopal Seminary of New Mexico. Catching him at the door, he invited the lad to breakfast, and his invitation was eagerly accepted, The two found much to talk about.
Fr. Manners declares that the following conversation is true:
Seminarian: Tell me, father, were you using the Book of Common Prayer? Priest: Yes, I was. It's a translation of the 1928 Prayer Book. Why do you ask?
Seminarian: Oh, I just wondered. I've never seen it before.
Priest: That surprises me. You've been in seminary two years, and you've never seen the Prayer Book in a Spanish translation before?
Seminarian: No, no. I've never seen the Prayer Book. I've never seen a copy in English or Spanish.
Priest: Good heavens. What kind of service books do you use?
Seminarian: We've used the Green Book and the Zebra Book, and we've used the Services for Trial Usage once or twice. But I don't even know if they have Prayer Books at the seminary. `24
Priest: That's amazing. You're to be ordained in less than a year?
Seminarian: I hope so.
Priest. And they expect you to promise conformity to the doctrine and discipline and worship of a Church whose Prayer Book you've never even seen?
Seminarian: I'm afraid that's right, father.
It was the late spring of 1967. The place was Ridgeleigh, the antebellum mansion of the Grosvenors, now converted into a retreat house for the southern dioceses. It was the penultimate day of a month-long session for the sensitivity training of several dozen clergy.
The door slammed shut in bunkroom D as the last of the Nassau contingent trooped out on their way to breakfast. They had been slow in saying Morning Prayer, and the dining room was already emptying as they settled down at the only still-set table.
"I hope you don't mind my grumbling," said the Baytown rector. '"I'm planning a Post Meeting Reaction that'll dismember this whole operation."
As the others turned their heads, he added, "Oh, I don't mean this place. For this kind of thing, Ridgeleigh is as good as any other. What I object to is the kind of training where we make the Group take the place of God. They've deliberately allowed no chapel here. There's no holy place, no schedule for the daily offices, no time for meditation or prayer, no Bible study. And the Eucharist is always held after a meal so that it's virtually impossible for one to make one's communion fasting. And yes," he added, "there's this weird compulsion that everyone make his communion -- under pain of the group's displeasure."
The Nassau clergy were well into breakfast, their mouths too full to respond, so the Baytown rector continued. "Yesterday when Will Archer was celebrating, I came in after the confession. And since I hadn't made my peace with God, I felt silly when everyone jumped up at the Peace to offer me theirs gratuitously. I felt even sillier when the elements were passed around. How can you not communicate when somebody turns to you, and then puts the elements in your hands to give to someone else? Anyway, I didn't receive. Jim Long twice tried to feed me and seemed baffled that I wasn't joining in."
"You mean you were so ungracious as to turn down the gift of Christ?" It was the curate from Glen Cove, whose voice showed a touch of irony.
"No, dammit, it's not a matter of being ungracious. It's a matter of being unready, and of the individual making his own peace with God. I object to this arrangement where the group takes over and says, 'Baytown, you're all right with God the way you are.'"
The rector from Baytown's complaint was interrupted by the entry of the Nassau delegation's last and youngest member, who sidled into his chair with his tray still in his hands. Howard Trelawney was the newest curate at the cathedral. Because he was too young to be considered ambitious, he was doted on by the others. `25
"You won't believe what I have to tell you," stated Trelawney. "You knew, didn't you, that the East Virginia clergy were supposed to celebrate the Holy Communion this morning? Well, none of the six could agree on how to do it or on who was to do what. So they announced there would be no celebration, and when people seemed disappointed I said Nassau would do it for them."
"I don't believe it," said the Baytown rector. "How could anyone disagree on a thing like that to the point of backing down on an obligation?"
"They can, and did," said Fr. Trelawney.
"I can very well believe it," said the curate from Glen Cove. "Those people are all graduates of Old South Seminary, and they have absolutized meaningfulness to the point where if everyone doesn't do it his own way it isn't the Lord's Body and Blood."
"You have a point there," conceded the Baytown rector.
"But I do have a question," asked the priest from Glen Cove. "I think I know what goes on inside the Old South heads, and I'd guess that if they can't agree on how to do the Eucharist they would resent anyone else's offering to do it for them. How did they react when you volunteered our services?"
The eager beaver smiled. "They hated it, and when everyone else said 'Fine, let Nassau do it,' they held a little caucus and decided to blackball our celebration. So now everyone is going to be at the Holy Communion excepting the delegation from East Virginia."
The Dogmatics of Change
It was Theological Education Sunday, and a senior from one of the seminaries had been guest preacher at St. Swithun's in the Swamp. Afterward, in a small gathering at the rectory, he was asked some searching questions about women's ordination and about the discipline in the seminaries. "I happen to be in favor of ordaining women," he said, "just as most of my generation are. But I am mistrustful of most of the reasons for change, and I am mistrustful of those who take advantage of popular sentiment and ecclesiastical weakness to promote their ideologies."
Becoming aware of the attention he was getting, the young man threw caution to the winds, and got down to specifics on the things that were bothering him. "I wonder," he asked, "how many people who are in sympathy with the idea of women's ordination would still cast their vote for it if they realized that it is just one step in a timetable of cold and deliberate change. I wonder how they'd feel if they realized that it is not they who decide these things, but a small and powerful group who work behind the scenes, and who decide what the steps in the timetable will be. Black power -- that was last year. Women's ordination. That's on the agenda right now. Next year it'll be gay liberation -- with a few sidelines like polygamy, polyandry, legalized incest. But the main thing right now is homosexuality. You may not know it, but a lot of diocesan commissions have already passed resolutions commending the civil rights of homosexuals. A number have `26 approved the right of practicing homosexuals to be priests. And some of them are working on the right of homosexuals to be married in the Church."
As his hearers' jaws sagged in astonishment, the seminarian added, "These things were long ago decided in the seminaries. The new morality is a fait accompli. We have several sets of homosexual lovers living together in my dormitory. We have a priestess-professor who's called 'Lucy the Lesbian' behind her back. Another of our professors has his mistress living with him in his seminary apartment. And the top man on our faculty brags that he hasn't been inside a church for the past ten years." `27
VI. THE BENDING OF THE MIND
"Now you see what we have done," said the Wax-moths. "We have created a New Material, a New Convention, a New Type, as we said we would."
"And new possibilities for us," said the laying sisters gratefully.
"You have given us a new life's work, vital and paramount."
"More than that," chanted the Oddities in the sunshine; "You have created a new heaven and a new earth."
From the early 1950's on, thousands of clergy and key laypeople in the Episcopal Church were exposed to the mind-bending techniques of Group Dynamics. The process, which was first financed with a $4 million grant from the Ford Foundation, took a variety of forms, including the Parish Life Conference, the Group Life Laboratory, and the many kinds of Sensitivity Training.
As a result of their indoctrination, a large number of the clergy adopted the social character that sensitivity training imposes. They became more "aware," more "involved," more "sincere," more "sensitive to the feelings of others," and their minds, in a shift of gears, became attuned to the situational rather than to the universal. As a result, many clergy were led to see their faith in terms of the humanitarian rather than the divine. Being so transformed, they dropped their old low-church or high-church affiliations, and switched to the liberal, broad-church party.
What was true of these clergy was also true of most of the laity who had undergone this training. There had not been enough money to indoctrinate more than the key laity, but at least their presence in the body politic gave the assurance of control by the liberal wing of the church.
The majority of the church's members, however, remained untouched by the new ideology. As with the lay people of other Christian bodies, they remained more steeped in tradition than the onrushing world about them. Thus, the end result of the group dynamics program was to widen the gap between the lay and the clerical mind. Its chief effect was to clericalize the church.
By the mid-seventies the well had run dry. There was no longer money for sensitivity training, and because of lay people's increased suspicions over church politics, there was less demand. In the fall of 1974, a weekend conference sponsored by Trinity Church, New York, had to be canceled for lack of applications. Its title had been, "Changing the Church deliberately: How to be an effective Christian change agent in the institutional church."
Despite this seeming lack of interest in sensitivity training by the laity, `28 however, the program's goals have been achieved: the Episcopal Church has been converted from a tradition-minded, multi-party body to a nearly monochrome, all-liberal church. As early as 1967 the man who had been the church's Director of Training -- and who had engineered the original Ford Foundation grant -- felt free to resign his post, with the idea of going to work for the radical labor-organizer-turned-community-sensitizer, Saul Alinsky. When asked by a friend why he was leaving, he replied, "Because we have finished our task. We have changed the thinking of the Episcopal Church."
The Unlettered Ph.D.
A strange anomaly in the church's group dynamics program is that it has been treated in the national church and in nearly every diocese as an integral part of Christian education. Despite the fact that a) it communicated none of the content of the Christian faith, b) it is based upon a pagan view of man (self-affirmation rather than self-denial), and c) it has been used more widely in secular institutions than in the church, sensitivity training has, for many years, been the primary program for teaching the faith. More than that, it has been -- outside of seminaries and Sunday schools -- almost the only program. The way in which sensitivity training has been confused with Christian education is illustrated in the following narrative:
In early 1975 an unemployed Episcopal priest was sent for an interview with a bishop's assistant, with a view to being recommended to a parish. The priest was 42 years old, and had taught for 20 years in church prep schools, where he had been a chaplain as well as a master in the classical languages and ancient history. During his years of teaching, he had earned a Ph.D. in the classics and a reputation as one of the Church's most accomplished New Testament scholars. The report on the interview was this, "I'm not sure we can use this man. He doesn't seem to have had enough training in Christian education." This shows how, even at the highest level, churchmen can be trapped by their own ideologies and their own jargon. The priest in question had simply had no sensitivity training!
Like most churches, St. Bede's was most actively a parish of women. This had been so for more years than most men could remember. The group that was gathered today, for example, had been in existence for more than sixty years. Originally it had been the Girls' Friendly Society. Then, as the members began aging, it had become the Girls' Friendly Sponsors -- big sisters to the younger groups. Then, as the original society had fallen into desuetude, it had called itself the Friendly Guild. More than a dozen of those present today had been at the original meeting in 1912.
The rector paused at the door, thinking he might be interrupting Bishop Deniger; he had been called to the hospital and had heard nothing of the talk. But the bishop had gone, and only a handful of the faithful were cleaning up after the tea. One was carefully removing the poster that had been up for the past month, "A DISTINGUISHED BISHOP SPEAKS ON MISSION IN TODAY'S WORLD." `29
"How was it?" the rector asked as Irene Warrington, the guild's president, glanced his way. The woman shook her head and looked at him reproachfully, "Father Wendell, if you can't find speakers with better manners, we'll have to go out and find our own. We were all amazed that such a man should be a bishop of the church. He was vulgar and abusive and profane. He ridiculed the parish for having built these lovely buildings and for spending so much money on itself. He criticized our members for being racist and elitist and for patronizing the poor. And he kept taking the Lord's Name in vain -- I think just for the shock effect it would have on us." Fighting back the tears, Mrs. Warrington added, "I couldn't count the number of times he said, 'God damn,' and 'for Christ's sake.'"
A Liberated Mother
Here are a few more examples of calculated shock -- of the sort that churchgoers have been subjected to increasingly in recent years. Each can be passionately defended by liberals, yet each gives evidence of a design to provoke, and even of careful and deliberate staging. It is the production of people who, in the name of "awareness" and "sensitivity," are determined to show their own insensitivity to the feelings of those they want to "put down" as conventional.
A woman deputy to the '74 convention of the Diocese of Monmouth came forward to the microphone to speak on a resolution on women's ordination. In her arms she bore a tiny infant. Perhaps because of her nervousness in speaking, perhaps because of the amplification of her voice, the baby began to wail. With a flourish the mother bared her breast and gave suck, continuing to speak as though nothing had happened. The convention, however, was stilled. A few people, as can be imagined, exulted inwardly over this signal of women's liberation. Most were deeply embarrassed.
The mother, however, might as well have stayed in her seat. From the breast-baring on, no one heard a word she said.
In 1969 San Francisco's Grace Cathedral was dressed up for a concert entitled, "A Sensorium on Celebration of the Future." Admission was by ticket, and the cathedral had been converted into an arena of balloons, banners and bunting. A TV camera was set up in the sanctuary, and was filming the movement of the crowd.
Suddenly a cameraman leapt onto the altar, as though to give better directions to his associates. Having made a show of doing so, he lit a cigar and calmly surveyed the scene. The dean, who was standing nearby, tried to pull the intruder down, and the two engaged in a wrestling match upon the altar. Finally two vergers came to the dean's rescue, and the TV man was made to surrender his perch.
The same scenario was acted out in 1971 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. The purpose this time was a protest against the Vietnam war, and the edifice had been similarly converted into an arena. No provision had been made to protect the cathedral as a holy place, and the `30 sponsors made no effort to provide what the dean and chapter had not asked. Rather, the proceedings showed a flagrant contempt for the sanctity of the place.
Halfway through the program a tall usher walked down the center aisle to take a collection to support the protest. As a mark of his office he was wearing a set of "long johns." The back flap was unbuttoned and hanging down, revealing a pair of hairy buttocks.
"Holiness Has Got to Go!"
In the early sixties the curate of a wealthy parish was dismissed for what, to the congregation, were good and obvious reasons. He was indolent, slovenly, disrespectful and undisciplined. The rumors about his private behavior were manifold, and investigation seemed to bear out that most of them were true. The final criterion, however, lay in what he believed -- as compared with what it was felt every priest ought to believe.
Jim Doppler, by his own admission, had little respect for Christian ethics. He had, in fact, been ordained in spite of his refusal to take a canonical exam in moral theology ("I told the bishop I didn't believe there was such a subject"). He rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, and had several times told the Episcopal Young Churchmen that he felt sure Mary Magdalene was Jesus' mistress. When some vestrymen asked how he felt about the need of personal holiness, he replied with a laugh, "Holiness has got to go."
It may be said that "Holiness has got to go" is the slogan of many in higher station than the curate of St. Non's. And it may be observed that his profaning of the sacred is concurred in by those whose peccability is, in other respects, less obvious. But what is the purpose of profaning the sacred? Is it really to make the holy relevant to the world? Not at all. Every traditionalist understands one thing that is beyond the grasp of the brightest intellectual -- that it is only in the ritualizing of the grotesque that the mind becomes unglued. We all have limits as to what we will and will not do; it is only when we consent in a ritual act of destruction that the walls come tumbling down. The East Africans who were initiated into the Mau Mau mysteries were not rude barbarians -- yet they became barbarians when they made the leap of conformity in eating a mixture of feces and menstrual blood. The same thing happens in the church when people participate in a ceremony that seduces them into flouting what they have always revered as holy. The following "celebrations" were dangerously mind-bending only because: 1) their participants were high-level theologians and 2) they tempted both the naive and the wise to turn back to the trial rites with a sigh of relief.
Thirteen bishops were on hand on Sept. 12, 1971 for the consecration of the eighth Bishop of Utah. 50 large was the congregation and so special the occasion that it was not held in the cathedral, but in Salt Lake City's Special Events Center.
The new bishop's attire included all of the liturgical colors excepting the white of purity and the purple of penitence. Red, yellow, orange, blue, green `31 and black were scattered in harlequin mixture. The bishop's hair covered both neck and ears and made him, in the eyes of one observer, "almost indistinguishable from a portly matron of middle years." At the Peace there was the now-common embracing and kissing -- along with applause, cheers, firecrackers, confetti, the ringing of a cowbell and the launching of balloons. The same observer regarded the occasion as only a little less vulgar than the Clown Mass at South Bend, where the celebrant -- garbed and made up as a clown -- had smeared grease paint on the face of every communicant before giving the precious Body and Blood.
The Houston convention was treated to a similar spectacle, when the concelebrants at one Eucharist reduced to three the traditional four-step consecration. Large loaves of bread were consecrated and passed from hand to hand, so that communicants could break and feed their neighbors. Bottles of Cold Duck were consecrated and handed about so that everyone could take a swig, The celebration's relevance was heightened by having worshipers mill about, smoking and talking, and by having a snake dance after the blessing. When the revelers had finally gone, a single elderly priest was observed, kneeling on the floor to gather and consume the crumbs that had been trodden on and left behind.
Some time during its first two nights the Parish Life Mission had gone off the track, and he, as a trainer, had not been alert enough to see it happening. Fr. Stidham decided this as he drove the fifteen miles to his own rectory from St. James' in Roaring Furnace. Now, with five nights gone from a six-night program, he failed to see how the mission could be patched up for a satisfactory conclusion.
Tonight's session had been traumatic. Instead of arriving at the expected openness, the participants had become more uptight than before. Their concerns for the parish had now become concern for themselves; they were edgy and defensive, and had not even begun to verbalize their feelings.
As Fr. Stidham reflected, the whole thing had been put together wrong. The church was too new and raw for many insights to develop. The people were too anxious about the real situation to find anything real about the artificial situation in the P.L.M. For one thing, the training team itself came on too strong; it was too sure of itself. As a result, the church folk drew back from it as though the three priests were the Pied Piper and his rats. Then, too, it was a mistake for Fr. Schmucki, the head trainer, to have brought his own postulants along for indoctrination. The girls were awkward and homely and the young man had a painful stammer. All three reacted to Fr. Schmucki's foul language as though he had struck them a physical blow.
The shattering experience -- for Fr. Stidham and probably for the others -- was the T-group session that brought the buzz groups together in the middle of the evening. There seemed to be no blocks to build upon. Probe after probe from the trainers brought nothing but a kind of sullen silence. Finally, after the trainers had lapsed into their own silence, the people came to life. But it was not the kind of life that the trainers were looking for. There was `32 no exposure of feelings, no sharing of insights, no expression of gentleness -- in short, no "sensitivity."
Instead, five nights of frustration with the P.L.M. and five years of frustration for the congregation came out into the open -- coldly, intellectually. Hurt piled upon hurt until the trainers began to look and feel like drowning men. Fr. Stidham threw away the book, and ventured to speak for himself, "We're all in trouble, and the thing we need to do is to pray together, and to ask God to help us get out of this mess."
At this his two colleagues looked at him as though he had lost his wits. "God damn it, Ralph," Fr. Schmucki said, glaring at him. "This is prayer, the finest kind of prayer. St. Francis says, 'To work is to pray,' and this, my friend, is it."
Fr. Stidham was taken aback at the other's vehemence, and tried weakly to explain, "No, I meant really to pray. We're all mixed up and there are a lot of hurt feelings here, and I think we've got to turn to God."
"B---t, Stidham." Fr. Stidham turned to the vicar, Fr. Jim Killington. His friend was plainly furious -- all two hundred and fifty pounds of him. His face was flushed and he slammed the table with his huge fist, "B---t, I said b---t." Aghast, Fr. Stidham looked back to Fr. Schmucki, who coldly closed the door, "You've really f---d us up."
Fr. Stidham turned to stone. After a few moments the T-group resumed its conversation. The trainers were as much in command as before, and if the participants felt any sympathy for the wounded priest, none was shown back, to ask for acceptance and to have his case disposed of. But he was too aware of the tyranny by which trainers dominate such an artificial situation, and too appreciative of how the individual, unable to stand on his own, had to depend upon the group. And so he sat out the evening, waiting for someone to ask him to rejoin the group. No one did.
Now, as he drove over the wooded crest of Liberty Mountain, Fr. Stidham came to his decision. Actions speak louder than words, and there was only one way he could express his disagreement with the whole idea of sensitivity training. He would simply absent himself from the rest of the P.L.M.
Fr. Stidham never saw the head trainer again, and only heard that Fr. Schmucki was continuing on the Church's training staff for the sensitizing of clergy and key laity in the Church. The P.L.M. at Roaring Furnace, someone told him, had limped to a close, with no effect at all on the church's life. Months later he answered a ring at the door. There stood his giant friend. Fr. Jim Killington, looking down at him with pique and curiosity. "What happened?" he asked. Fr. Stidham opened wide the door. `33
VII. THE USES OF POWER
"How's our Queen?" said Melissa.
"Cheerfully hopeless, as usual. But she lays an egg now and
"Does she so?" Melissa backed out of the next Canterbury bell with a jerk. "Suppose, now, we workers tried to raise a Princess in some clean corner?"
"You'd be put to it to find one. The Hive's all Wax-moths and muckings. But -- well?"
"A Princess might help us in the time of the Voice behind the Veil that the Queen talks of. And anything is better than working for Oddities that chirrup about work that they can't do, and waste what we bring home."
The diocese's Institutional Life Committee was holding its semi-monthly meeting, and had settled in the library of one of its women members. The chairman glanced out the window in apprehension, for the agenda was dynamite, and he needed the support of the new priest whose appointment he had wangled. Presently he saw Fr. Carpenter's auto threading its way up the long driveway. He sighed with relief.
With all the members on hand, Fr. Maginnis called the meeting to order. As if by prearrangement, three of the priests grabbed the ball and raced down the court, tossing it back and forth to one another. Fr. Herr pointed out that the Church had always had homosexual priests, and that it was high time to recognize the fact. There could be no question, he said, of the validity of their orders or of the genuineness of their calling. Fr. Watrous, himself a black, contended that a validation of homosexuals' ministry was a long overdue rendering of justice -- similar to that now extended to negroes. Dean Billington dwelt on the fact that the gays -- like the straights -- were loved by God, and that history had demonstrated creative possibilities for the flowering of homosexual personhood.
After twenty minutes the chairman brought the trialogue to a halt and asked for some observations from the women. For moments nothing was said. Then the hostess began hesitantly. "I suppose those who have been working for minority rights ought to be supporting one another. But I don't know anything about homosexuality. I've never known any homosexuals -- at least, I don't think I have. I don't believe I could be happy with a homosexual priest. And I know I wouldn't want to be ministered to by a lesbian." She shuddered as she said this, and it appeared she might be regretting the temptation to engage in coalition politics.
Immediately the three priests were off again, this time on a new tack. Fr. Watrous concurred with the idea that since women, like blacks and homosexuals, were a persecuted minority, it was meet and right to treat the matter as political. Fr. Herr pointed out that sexuality was no longer considered `34 as all-or-none, but that there are elements of both sexes in each of us. He clinched his point with a closing remark, "You know, girls, that nearly all grown men have had homosexual experiences in their adolescence, and many have had them all the way to manhood. I think many of our clergy would feel more openness about their past if homosexuality were regarded not as a sinful or abnormal state, but as a normal condition of life." Dean Billington picked up the thread of argument by distinguishing between the aggressive, "stud" type of homosexual and the more passive and receptive male. The latter, he said, was apt to be the open and accepting kind of person the church sought to develop, and might be uniquely helpful if cast in the role of a priest.
The women listened with eyes like saucers. Even their mouths were ajar. The dean paused to relight his pipe and one of them spoke up, "Wilfred, I noticed that you made a distinction between the kind of homosexual you could accept as a priest and the kind you presumably could not -- the stud, as you called him. What about the kind of priest who is heterosexual and who has a wife, and who can't keep his hands off other women? What about him?"
Dean Billington laughed, "Well, you know, Jennifer, the roving male has always been with us. Even in the church we have them, as you seem to have noted. Yet we've learned to live with the situation, and in fact we recognize that in some of these clergy their behavior is just an outpouring of energy and imagination that in other respects is creative for the church. Some of our greatest priests and bishops have been what you might call oversexed."
None of the women responded to the dean, and it seemed for a moment as if they were backing into their traditional role of accommodation with what was, rather than with what ought to be.
Presently Fr. Carpenter spoke up, coming to the aid of an increasingly uneasy chairman. "Ms. Smyth," he began, "I'd like to put in a word for the minority position, although it's been the majority one through the whole of Christian history. We all have a distinctly sexual nature, and it's a moral nature, and we have the choice of whether we're going to use it rightly or wrongly. It's a choice we can't avoid unless we make the decision that Origen did when he castrated himself. And that was an immoral act, as the Church recognized when she refused to see a saint in one of her greatest theologians.
"I can't agree with what's been said here, because I think it's in conflict with what Our Lord Himself has taught and commanded. The Church has always accepted that sex can be used for evil as well as for good, and that our appetites have got to be kept under control. This is what self-denial is all about. And self-denial is Jesus' idea. It's something we have to keep in mind constantly in a world where the watchword is self-affirmation."
As he continued, Fr. Carpenter's glance included the other women. "You know, the Church has always been careful, not only about its priests, but about its lay people as well. There's no room in the Kingdom for the practicing homosexual. And there's no room in the Kingdom for the man that Dean Billington has called the stud. Especially the bishop-stud and the priest-stud. Adultery may no longer be a statutory crime, but it's still one of `35 the worst sins there is. In many ways it's worse than murder. For when you kill a man you are killing an individual, but when you commit adultery you are destroying a family, and you are making a good start on the destruction of a society."
As he said this, Fr. Carpenter got no sense of reaction from the men, but he got the feeling it was exactly what the women wanted to hear. Adele Simpkins was upon him with a question, "Father! What about these studs that Dean Billington has spoken of? Is it a problem or isn't it? Are there men like this, or aren't there?"
"I don't know of any, and I say it quite candidly."
The dean and Fathers Watrous and Herr snorted in derision. Even the chairman smiled, "I'm afraid, Father Carpenter, that you're a babe in the woods."
Fr. Carpenter rose to his own defense. "Not a babe, Sam, just a private man who keeps his nose to the grindstone. But I'll tell you this," and he looked at each of the members of the committee, "that if I did know of a priest or a bishop who was carrying on in this way and who would not be brought to repentance, I would do all in my power to have him defrocked."
If Father Carpenter's appeal meant anything to the women as individuals, it failed to hold them against the ferment that had captured the group. By a vote of seven to one, the Institutional Life Committee approved what the Department of Christian Social Relations had already approved unanimously, and what was now being prepared for action by the diocese' 1977 convention: 1) a resolution urging the civil authority to give full civil rights to homosexuals, and 2) resolutions on the ordination of practicing homosexuals as priests and bishops, and on the use of trial rites for homosexual marriage.
A Letter to a Bishop-Elect
Dear Father Mattingly,
Your election last week is being acclaimed by some of our lay people as a heartening example of the Spirit at work. However, since you did not immediately accept, and since you have indicated your intention both to meet with our clergy and to give yourself to prayer, let me offer another's viewpoint to describe what has happened. Perhaps I can be a devil's advocate against the spirit that says, "Take it. We won!" At the very least, I can offer an assessment of the work you'll have cut out for you from the day of your enthronement.
You will be the first to admit that your election was a surprise. The expectation was that the new bishop would be a "conservative liberal," one who would be in favor of all the proposed changes, yet without being the sort who would rock the boat. Most of us thought that Bart McLean would be the winner. He's one of our own, the rector of our biggest and wealthiest church, a man who is well liked and who has been successful in a variety of posts, and who has given no cause to think he might be another Bishop Pike.
The difficulty was that the situation became polarized. The long-neglected conservatives decided to nominate a man whom they could respect -- and `36 came up with such a winner that the liberals could only assure themselves of victory by turning to you.
In saying this I do not mean to project hostility, but rather an acknowledgement of the power you possess. You and Tom Winship were the only two candidates who would not be compressed or shaped by the weight of the office itself. In other words, you were a strong and charismatic candidate. But I can tell you that on the day after the election many of those who had voted for you awoke to the knowledge they had put in office a priest who is a good deal more radical than themselves. What depressed them the more was that they had not really voted for you. They had voted against Tom Winship.
Let's go back to the beginning. The Committee for the Election of a Bishop was a farce in itself. The diocese' most militant campaigners for women priests were put on that committee -- and they were named when the Diocesan Council got the authority to do so. When Convention approved Bishop Dewey's application for early retirement and gave Council a $15,000 carte blanche to find his successor, Council took the bit in their teeth. They put on their committee the mildest priests and the most aggressive lay people they could find, and when the names were posted only two of the fifteen members could remotely be called conservative.
It's no wonder that when the committee -- after months of effort -- produced its short list, their candidates offered a spectrum as wide as a thread. They claimed their men were representative, and they were -- in a ludicrous way. There was a northern liberal and a southern liberal and a black liberal -- all from outside the diocese. And then there were those two house liberals of our own. When we all met for the reception at Straddleford Inn, the committee's designs became suffocatingly clear. Every one of their men parroted the same party line, and the only question was: which one did the committee really want to win?
A depressing note in the election was that the four candidates who were put up independently of the committee were in fact a better list. They were all good men, and their random nomination came far closer than the committee's list to reflecting the needs and the wishes of the diocese.
From the time that second list was published people began to ask questions and to have their doubts. Why, for example, was not Ted Whitlock on the committee's short list; after all, he is the best liked priest in the diocese, even though only the vicar of a mission. And why was not Tom Winship's name there, when he is obviously one of the most highly-qualified clergy in the country? From that point on the committee became both patronizing and defensive. Their answer to the last question was that Tom had not been cooperative in responding to their inquiries. Then it developed that no one had ever contacted him. And then it developed that no one on the committee had ever been in touch with any of the sixty-seven nominees -- until they decided who would be on their short list. Their entire research was done on those five they had already decided to endorse. This was the way they spent the $15,000 we gave them.
Almost everyone here feels that if Tom Winship had come for the show at Straddleford, he would have won the election. His record was too good to `37 pass over, his personality and his looks too striking, the promise of his leadership too real. But Tom did not come, and so failed to win the votes that he surely would have gotten from the laity, considering that he was the only one of nine candidates whose position was really theirs. Had the lay deputies realized that his absence was not due to stuffiness or to lack of interest, but to the ethics of waiting for a call, his election might have appeared to them not only as a sign of their will, but as a sign of God's will as well.
Even the fact that Tom Winship's backers were Anglo-Catholic did not detract from his appeal. Tom himself is not an Anglo-Catholic, and we made it clear that he was not in our pocket -- that his style, his beliefs, his churchmanship might be as attractive to our opponents as they were to us. We simply wanted a man whom both we and they could be loyal to. We wanted a man whom both we and they could follow, and in whose leadership we could find the joy of renewal and growth in Jesus Christ.
There were three things about the election that I found unfair, and that make me believe your election could not possibly be the work of the Holy Spirit. One was the initial rigging that I have already described. Another was the shameless politicking by the entire diocesan Establishment to protect itself and to assure that the lay people's will would not be made known. The third was the convention's own lack of representation -- to the degree that the votes themselves meant very little.
When Tom Winship told us he could not, in good conscience, actively campaign in his own behalf, it became quickly apparent that we had to work in the election committee's way or not at all. At the show in Straddleford, for example, we were not allowed to have one of our group tell about Tom, or to answer questions that might be addressed to him, or to show the presentation that we later took about the diocese. And as the campaign progressed we were forbidden to have the list of lay deputies, so that we might approach them directly. We had to try to reach the lay deputies through their rectors, whom we were already committed not to exploit -- on the grounds that Tom Winship would not accept an election that was not clearly a mandate of the Spirit. As a consequence, we never reached more than a quarter of the clergy and a much smaller number of the lay deputies. Considering the official inhibition against our even telling of our candidate, it is remarkable that he ran as strongly as he did.
At the very time we were denied this access, the Episcopal Churchwomen were politicking with every device at their disposal, including the names and addresses we could not get. In the old days no one would have cried out "Unfair," for the women had no vote in convention and had to be represented by men. But now that women do have a vote (half of the lay deputies who elected you were women), it is improper for the ECW even to be allowed to politick. Yet politick is what they are doing and lobbyists is what they have become; Flossie Dunready and her cohorts have abandoned the old objectives of the ECW and have converted it into a lobby for women's rights. They spend their time browbeating the clergy and the diocese' other women, persuading them that change is going to come, and `38 that they might as well accept it.
This impropriety is all the more evident when you realize that in most churches today the ECW is nearly defunct, and that all that keeps it alive is an aggressive feminism that's focussed at the diocesan and national levels. With most of our women working outside the home, the old functions of mission supply and of housekeeping in the church are simply beyond their capacity. The result? The ECW is now a tool of leisured women in well-to-do parishes and of their bishop friends. It does not represent the women in the church, but rather forces upon them a vote they'd rather not give -- in the furtherance of liberal goals.
However, it is with this particular election that you and I are concerned. When the members of the election committee and the ECW officers appreciated the strength of Tom Winship's support, they came down onto the floor and began electioneering in a way that had been forbidden -- at least to those who were not deputies. Flossie Dunready and Phyllis Batchelder and Rich Lohm and others who were supposed to remain in the visitors' section came down for coffee and to get in their digs. In nothing flat the word got around the floor that Tom Winship was a racist, a male chauvinist, a man who was against everything that the Establishment was in favor of. It got so bad that the bishop, who is these people's friend, had to order them to leave the floor.
But I have made an even more serious charge -- that the convention itself is defective in that it is not truly representative. How could it be otherwise when, in a diocese whose lay people are 75% conservative, the people's own deputies would turn down the only man of nine whose position was really at one with those they represent?
There are three factors that guarantee that lay deputies will not vote for what their people want. One is the complexity of diocesan affairs, which must be acted upon in such short order that the deputies must depend upon their clergy to tell them what and for whom to vote. A second is the convocation system in which, through monthly meetings with deputies from nearby parishes, our representatives are supposed to be deparochialized. The difficulty is that the deputies learn only what the diocesan staff and clergy want them to learn, with back-reference not to the people who elected them, but only to one another. The third is in the kind of people who in fact run for convention deputy. They are not the warden-type or even the vestryman-type. They are the kind who like to think of themselves as "involved." They are the kind who get bored with parochialism, and who want to be where the action is. In short, they are the kind of lay people who have helped to keep the church in an uproar for the last twenty years.
I could also speak of defectiveness in the clerical vote (not, I might add, in respect to the will of man, but in respect to the mind of God). If it is a generation since our lay deputies really represented the people, it is at least that long since our clergy represented God. And the reason is, I think, that many of us have never been coached in the sound learning, the pure manners and the prayer life that have made it possible for us to ascertain the `39 truth. These are wanting because our seminaries are not teaching them or requiring them. All too many of our clergy are quite ignorant of what priesthood is, and are without a sense of vocation or obedience. When asked to choose, they represent only themselves.
There is just one thing to add; it refers to your potential for leadership in the diocese. I fear that you and the other candidates were, in the heat of "burning issues," considered only in the light of short-term appeal. You personally were the most electable of those who favored women's ordination and Prayer Book reform. Yet if you accept you will be our bishop for a great many years. Where will be your friends on the issues that will be thronging us in the time that lies ahead? You could lose your following as easily as you have gained it and over matters that are only tangential to the faith. I say this not as a devil's advocate, but as the Lord's. I say it to remind you that the most important criterion for a bishop is the one that the election committee ignored completely that a bishop must, above all else, be a defender of the faith.
Should you accept your election, and should your term be marked by no real growth in the Spirit, I can visualize only one way in which your episcopate may be a success -- that you will accomplish what your past utterances tell us you would like to do. By the end of your twenty years as our bishop you will have a thoroughly secular church. The myths, the symbols and the traditions will be gone -- and so will the glory. The catholic and apostolic faith will have disappeared -- and so will the people. By your retirement in 1996 the Diocese of Sedgewick will be an urban desert. You will be no weaker, however; in fact you'll be all the more in control. You will have a lot of real estate and a faithful remnant of yes-persons. But the body will be gone and so will the spirit.
I am, sir, yours in Christ,
The Revolutionary Rector
When Kent Armstrong came back to All Souls as a curate he was welcomed with open arms. Both as a layman and as a cleric he had everything going for him. He was handsome and charming, as were his wife and five children. Before his decision to enter the ministry he had had a meteoric rise in the business world. He offered great promise of success in the Church. Most of all, he was one of the Murray Hill Armstrongs, and although his family were unwilling to help with his seminary education, the parish had supported the Armstrongs for the three seminary years with its Extra Mile fund.
It was not long before the people of All Souls discovered that they had sponsored a man who had turned against the System without turning on to `40 the Establishment of God. Hook, line and sinker, young Armstrong had swallowed the Social Gospel. Quite uncritically he had accepted Group Process as the whole of Christian education. In his role as social gospeler, he spent three days at Selma; it was an event that gave him grist for a dozen sermons of social protest. In his role as trainer, he conducted courses that led people to look for Christ only in their fellow man.
When Kent Armstrong left All Souls there were a number of dissonant voices in the chorus of goodbyes. Old Mrs. Brown, for example, told him that if he could not find more affection for his flock, he would likely find himself asked to leave. And this is exactly what happened. Initially, the people at Bridgehaven felt a stroke of great good luck in having gotten such a charming and well-connected family installed in their rectory. But it was not long before the gladness disappeared. Once more Armstrong cast himself in the role of social revolutionary. His sermons dealt altogether with social change. When Christ was mentioned, it was only as Jesus the Revolutionary. To bring involvement to the all-white town, Armstrong brought busloads of black youngsters for outings into the park across the way, and arranged for the parish's more activist young women to feed and entertain them. Within a year the vestry had asked him to resign.
The Armstrongs' exodus did not take place, however, until after the annual meeting -- and here a quite unexpected thing happened. The young rector had not been content to keep the membership he had inherited, and during his year and more at Bridgehaven had brought in a number of new members. These people were not converts in any sense of becoming Anglicans, but rather were won to Kent Armstrong and his teachings. They came to the annual meeting en masse, whereas the other members stayed away, expecting the vestry to re-elect themselves. There was no such thing; a new vestry was elected, a new and larger budget was adopted, and an increase voted in the rector's salary.
With such a paper show of success, the rector could hardly fail to find a post elsewhere, and in a few months Kent Armstrong was offered the rector ship of one of the oldest and most prestigious parishes in the east. And here, once again, the same thing happened. The older people -- the ones who brought him in -- were disappointed, the young and activist were galvanized to life, and enough sudden Episcopalians were added to change the balance of voting power...
This time, however, there was a difference. Bridgehaven had been a mere backwater. It had been a starter, an exercise in the use of power. Now Armstrong was at the center of things. He was in the middle of a great city and adjacent to the campus of a great university, with all the connections of influence and prestige that go with both. With the creation of a few votes at the parish's annual meeting, he had gotten control over millions of dollars in parish endowments. He was now in a position profoundly to affect the policy and direction of the church. `41
VIII. THE NEW AND UGLY SHAPE OF MAN
"0 Holy Hymettus!" said Melissa, awestruck. "I knew they didn't know how honey was made, but they've forgotten the Order of the Flowers! What will become of them?"
A Shadow fell across the alighting-board as the Bee Master and his son came by. The Oddities crawled in and a Voice behind a Veil said, "I've neglected the old Hive too long. Give me the smoker."
In June of 1962 a group of American clergy and their wives gathered for reminiscences at St. Augustine's College in Canterbury. It was to be their last time together after a year of study at the Anglican Communion's central school for priests. They had shared in the fellowship and communion of men and women from every part of the world -- from England, Australia, Nigeria, India, Burma, Egypt, Jamaica, South Africa, Israel, Canada, Borneo, New Zealand, Germany, Malaya, Kenya, Iran, Tanganyika and Mauritius. Of the student body, one third had been white, one third had been black, and one third had been brown-skinned, oriental or of mixed lineage. They had shared in the daily offices and Eucharist, each priest in his turn celebrating the Holy Communion in his native tongue, while preaching in the language they held in common -- English.
At the very outset of the year, the Americans had made a hit with the other members of the college. They were friendly and outgoing, and made a point of seeking out those who were different from themselves. Being both curious and gregarious, they were adept at drawing out the shy and the reserved; with their help the Asians and Africans and the British found themselves at ease. But as the year wore on it became apparent that the idea of social mix was, for the Americans, something more than a charming trait. It was something they took with deadly seriousness. If a group of Nigerians were about to continue a pre-lunch palaver by sitting together, one .or more Americans could be counted on to play the host by getting them to separate.
A compulsion to integrate was not the only trait of the Americans. They could be distinguished from the others in many ways. They were bigger and more competitive than the rest. They had money to spend, cars to lend, and the assurance that comes from travel, education and social connections. As a result, they tended to dominate the college community. Despite the lip service they paid to equality, it was evident that their ideas and aspirations differed from the others', and they generally had their way.
As the Americans, in that June evening, discussed their year together, the question was raised, what did it mean to be an Anglican and to belong to a `42 great world communion of faith? A consensus was readily reached, and it was voiced by a priest from New York who was in his middle thirties, "Much as I have loved Canterbury, and much as I value the friendships we have made with fellow-Anglicans, I really feel more unity with Americans from other churches. I don't have much of an understanding of what goes on in Bala's head or in Jeremiah's, and I feel more 'in Christ' with a Baptist or a Unitarian back home."
A few days later a similar post-mortem was held among the Asians and Africans. "What did you think of the Americans?" was one of the questions asked. Here, too, was ready consensus, expressed by a Nigerian archdeacon, "I liked the Americans, but didn't feel I understood them. They wanted to be liked, but I was never able to find out what they believed, and because I felt they didn't stand for anything I couldn't really respect them."
Technological vs. Traditional Man
What is it that separates the American today from his own past? Why has he become, for many other peoples, the "ugly American"? Our sociologists may give us some clues. Much of the world, they tell us, is still traditionalist, where people respect the values and structures that derive from the worldview of their fathers. By contrast, the Western world shows little respect for the manners and morals of its forebears, and is increasingly inclined to make up the rules as it goes along. Middle class Americans, more than anyone else, have shelved the identity of traditional man, and have adopted that of technological man.
The most popular understanding of this change in self-understanding may be found in David Riesman's book, The Lonely Crowd, published in 1950. In it, Riesman describes three kinds of social identity -- the tribal, the national and the international. [Actually, these are the political forms that correspond to Riesman's categories. His own terms for the three are tradition-directed, inner-directed and other-directed.] The three develop in that order, succeeding one another as the social order becomes more complex. In the modem world the third -- which is the only one to break with the roots of tradition and which corresponds with technological man -- is found chiefly in America and in northern Europe. The categories are well worth our scrutiny, for they are remarkably like a set of religious identities that have evolved at the same time and in the same places -- the catholic, the protestant and the ecumenical, or universal, views of man.
The catholic, or tribal, view of man sees the individual as essentially a member of a body. He has little freedom to experiment because his only significance is in the body. Yet there is a great deal of security in his role. His world is a relatively small one, in the sense that he can grasp both its order and the meaning of its unity. His value-system is that possessed by every other member of the tribe; it embodies the customs and traditions that have come down from the fathers of his people. He is governed by his own loyalty to that system, and by the acute sense of shame that overwhelms him when `43 he is discovered in some deviation from the norm.
The protestant, or national, view of man begins with a transfer of loyalties from the corporate body to a body that is too large to understand excepting in abstraction, namely, the nation. The change is necessitated by an increasing complexity in the culture's economy and in the personal experience of its people. Men who are engaged in trade and travel or in the king's business -- or even in such illicit business as piracy or smuggling -- must spend long months away from the tribal bosom, and consequently must adjust to being persons in themselves. Shame is no longer a sufficient behavior-regulator, since there is no constant body before whom one's actions can be under check. Hence there is the need to internalize the culture's values and behavior before the member can be set free to live and act on his own. This internalizing is done by training, in precept and example. In the individualistic framework the regulator is no longer shame -- with judgment by the group. Rather, it is guilt, with self-judgment rendered by a pre-conditioned conscience.
It is paradoxical indeed that the broadening of loyalties from tribe to nation would require a lessening of corporate feeling and a dependence upon individual initiative and responsibility. Yet this is the price that must be paid. The why needs to be clearly understood, since we live in an age when individualism is rejected by many as a social evil, and when there are grandiose attempts both by psychologists and politicians to retribalise the world. We need to understand why the idea of a Universal State can be a dangerous myth, and why the Coming Great Church carries a threat of its own.
To say this is not to stop the clock or to turn it back. We are long past the time when anyone is served by the freedom that leads to injustice, waste and war. The world has always needed checks on human behavior, and now more than ever. Yet we have no proof that an imposed order would be more peaceful than one of cooperation among nations. And we have even less proof that a problem-solving Church would succeed where problem-solving states have failed. Rather, there is need for Christians to discern the signs of the times and to act in God's behalf where reason and order have failed.
The Crisis in Identity
The most critical time in a culture's history is the point where the masses become aware of a new sense of identity and of values, rights and obligations. We are now in such a time, and it is only the second such period in the modern world. The first lay in the centuries before the Reformation; it was the Renaissance, when westerners, through travel and trade and through lengthy absences from fief or clan, began to see themselves both as individuals and as members of a nation. The second is the present, where both nationalism and individualism seem to have failed, and where there is an impulse to take refuge in collectivism. In secular terms that impulse has been expressed in communism, fascism and the welfare state. In religious terms it has been expressed in the World Council, in the liturgical and ecumenical movements, and in offering the eucharist for purposes of fellowship, rather than of sacrifice or personal devotion. `44
Considering the sense of doom that has, for decades, hung over the western world, the collectivist impulse is understandable. Perhaps the greatest danger lies in that it is not yet clear whether the impulse is for better or for worse. Collectivists regard the step as progressive -- redounding to the glory of man. However, if the movement be considered in terms of human freedom and responsibility (which surely are the most significant criteria to be found!) the collectivist impulse is not progressive, but reactionary. It is not liberal in the sense of being liberating. It is, at the least, a retreat to the tribal prison. Very possibly it is a backsliding to irresponsibility and decadence -- a prelude to the downfall of the culture.
Having moralized on collective personality, let me at least describe it. The man whom Riesman calls other-directed is the person who is set free from traditional systems, values and restraints. He is one who adjusts, not to any indwelling sense of right and wrong, but to the way his neighbors think and feel. In him the shame that restrained the tribalist and the guilt that regulated the individualist have been abolished. These have been replaced with an inculcated anxiety that provides a kind of ongoing public-opinion poll, so that the individual can judge whether what he is doing is right in the eyes of his peers.
Riesman uses a parable to describe the difference between the guilt factor in the national culture and the anxiety factor in the super-national culture. Guilt provides the individual with a compass; it is something that orients one automatically, no matter where he is. Anxiety cannot give automatic bearings. Rather, it is a kind of radar that increases one's sensitivity to those around him. By orienting to them he can get a clue as to how he ought to behave.
The difference between the three sanctions is a vast one, and it suggests why an other-directed world has got to be regarded as post-Christian. Shame and guilt are moral sanctions. They point to the existence of right and wrong upon which all moral people agree. They require a sense of the absolute to which all mankind must defer. By contrast, anxiety is a relativistic sanction. It leads to courses of action that vary from one association to another. This means that the individual cannot have a standard other than the group itself. The member who has a conscience must scrap it, for it renders him insensitive to the group. If he would have a sense of unity with the group, he must give up all thought of unity within himself -- so far as values are concerned.
The formation of collective personality began when the Industrial Revolution brought Europeans from the farms and villages into the cities, and when the New World drew immigrants into its own melting pot. The need for building a new sense of community meant the surrendering of old identities, along with what had given them meaning and worth. Now there was not only the conflict between the catholic and protestant views of man. Now there was conflict between the national groups and between the ethnic groups that in the old country had been universal in their catholic faith, and yet profoundly local. At this point everything was up for grabs. Traditions, values, customs, manners -- for the young people all these things lost their meaning, and there was nothing with which to replace them. The machine only added `45 to the equalizing tendency that was abroad. The increase of man's mobility and the disappearance of his sense of relation to the past meant the increase of his dependence upon those about him -- regardless of who and what they were. He had lost the tap roots that give strength and stability, and the alternative was a system of horizontal roots.
The critical loss for man at this juncture was the loss of his religious symbols -- the myths and images that give meaning to life. Close behind it was the loss of the ethical imperative that comes from religion, and that governs his sense of right and wrong. These things disappeared because of his prior loss of the ability to distinguish between the sacred and the profane -- between 1) those things that are so linked to the eternal as to be timeless in themselves, and 2) those things that it is permitted for him to rearrange. With the disappearance of the extended family and the erosion of individuality, both the corporate and the individual identities lost their power. It was now necessary to create an identity -- to find a togetherness that had been lost, and to forge such symbols, values and disciplines as would give unity to the new modes of life. The result, however, is an artificial form of identity -- collective personality. [Collective personality is a. term I have used in a book on social theology published by William B. Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, Mich.) in 1973, called, The Restless Heart. It describes the secular shape of what, in the churches, we call liberalism.]
I have stated that an other-directed world is necessarily a post-Christian one. This is a personal view, shared with many traditionalists. Liberal churchmen do not believe this at all, and it is over this point that much of our conflict lies. As a dominant clique in the church, the liberals have bent every effort, not only to assure that other-directed people can be Christian, but to be assured that all churchmen are other-directed. This is the reason why so much of the Church's effort has gone into sensitivity training. It is a technique that, applied to traditionalists, has proven to be a subtle but effective form of brainwashing. It has turned a great many people in the key areas of church life into other-directed people (which is to say, they are now converts to liberalism): bishops, seminary professors and students, monastic communities, rectors of wealthy suburban churches and lay people who are leaders in diocesan and national church affairs. The rift has been made all the wider, however, between these converts and the plain folk in the pew. `46
IX. AN INSIDE WITNESS
The Testimony of Robert M. Strippy
The Princess's first clear fearless call rose and drummed through all the frames, "La Reine le veult! Swarm! Swarm! Swar-r-rm!"
The Hive shook beneath the shattering thunder of a stuckdown quilt being torn back.
"Don't be alarmed, dears," said the Wax-moths. "That's our work. Look up, and you'll see the dawn of a New Day."
Light broke in at the top of the Hive as the Queen had prophesied -- naked light on the boiling and bewildered bees.
The following statement is excerpted from a talk given by Robert M. Strippy of Evansville, Indiana at a national organization meeting of concerned churchmen in the spring of 1975. Mr. Strippy is a former staff member of the church's Executive Council, having served in the 1960;s as director of research for The Episcopalian.
A Statement by Robert M. Strippy:
Many churchmen have allowed themselves to be persuaded that the confusion in the Church of God is simply a reflection of the confusion that is found in the world. They believe that change is a necessary part of life, and that the accommodations the church has proposed in its faith and practice are a gracious response by wise and loving leaders to the radical demands of the times.
More than that, these churchmen are satisfied that such things as the quest for Prayer Book revision, the drive for women's ordination, the support of radical causes and the liturgical ugly movement are somehow to be sanctified because they are spontaneous urgings of the Spirit. The fact is that they are no such thing. They are, all of them, elements in a plan that was worked out in detail more than a generation ago. The elements have been introduced, each in its turn, when the timing seemed to be right for its acceptance, and when it could be deemed to be "of the Spirit" because of its "relevant spontaneity."
These proposals for change -- and others yet to come -- can all be traced to a group of people who have been in the leadership core of the Episcopal Church for several decades, and who have been laboring with similar people in the core leadership of other denominations and of the National and World Councils of Churches. All of them have been working for the fulfillment of goals that were formulated a long time ago.
It would be an overstatement to call this a conspiracy. It is not a conspiracy in that there is a master plan with a role for every player. The problem is that the people who are caught up in this movement are a new and different breed of men who are determined to impose their stamp on the remainder of mankind. They are people who have one outlook, and who share a single `47 political, economic and social view -- and, I might add, a single religious view. For the most part they have a common educational background and common seminary ties. In recent years they have succeeded in getting into the church's power structure and installing their friends there too. As a result, they have far more "clout" than their numbers would seem to call for. Yet despite their vaunted openness to change and to the promptings of the Spirit, they are the most predictable of all the parties in the church. They move only in one direction, always consulting with one another, always supporting one another, always making fun of the opposition, and always with the same result.
What I have described is loosely called the liberal movement. The older name for it is modernism. It is a movement that is updated every few years, with the present result that anything predating 1930 is ancient, old-fashioned and -- to use the liberal's favorite word -- irrelevant. For the liberal, the ultimate authority is the man who taught him in seminary and the people he admired. Anyone beyond that circle, anyone with a different mindset, anyone from a foreign land or from a foreign century, is simply dismissed as irrelevant. The most irrelevant authority is what is farthest removed -- that of the Church as based upon the Scriptures, the Creeds, the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils.
The Attack upon Authority
If you study what has been happening in the church you will perceive there has been a wholesale attack upon these four bases of authority. As far as Scripture is concerned, one need not be familiar with Bultmann to see what has happened in the church. For the liberal clergy, the Bible is no more than a symbological myth. It provides a nice source for quotations, but they are treated in a poetical, rather than a historical, fashion. What the Scripture calls facts are not treated as facts; they are simply regarded as the conditioning of the Old and New Testament eras.
Then there are the Creeds. Liberals do not believe in the Creeds, nor does it mean anything that they are summaries of scriptural teaching. If you refer to the authority of the Creeds they laugh aloud, as I have observed in meetings of the Executive Council itself. The Nicene Creed is regarded as a canticle that is sung or said in the middle of the Eucharist. The Apostles' Creed is an old form that has now been broken up into questions and answers suitable for the baptismal service. The Athanasian Creed is now so "out of date" that I'm told they propose to put it alongside the Thirty-Nine Articles in the back of the proposed Prayer Book -- as a kind of historical curiosity.
So far as the Fathers go, the only father the liberal wants is the one who is teaching and writing today and who is popular at the moment. Anyone who predates this father is simply old hat, and any attempt to demonstrate one's theology by proof text or by reference to the Fathers is dismissed as totally irrelevant. As to decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, the liberal position can be summed up in what one staff member at 815 told me -- that all the councils were in error because their thinking was based upon Greek metaphysics, `48 something, by the way, that is simply not so. This is the way the liberals treat the Scriptures, the Creeds, the Fathers and the Ecumenical councils. They are not considered to have any authority in themselves; they have all been thrown out the window.
Now we come to the attack upon the Prayer Book. The reason why the liberals want to revise the Prayer Book is that having argued away the Scriptures, they find themselves less able to argue away the Prayer Book -- which, after all, is written in a more recent language and in one that finally depends neither upon the concrete expressions of the Hebrew nor upon the metaphysics of the Greek. Moreover, the liberals know that lay people appeal to the Prayer Book as a standard of faith and order, so the Prayer Book has got to go if their program is to be fulfilled.
All the talk about updating the language of the Prayer Book, or about making the liturgy more relevant to modern man or more exciting to the young people is pure nonsense. The liberals don't believe in this themselves; they know the young people are staying away in droves. They have to get rid of the Prayer Book in order to rid themselves of people like the late Senator George Wharton Pepper, who used to open his Prayer Book to the appropriate page and start quoting it to General Convention. They want a Prayer Book that is beautifully vague, that takes no stand on any position that cannot neatly be explained away, and that will not embarrass them when it is quoted. They want to be rid of such offensive material as the reference to sacramental confession that appears in the occasional exhortation at the close of the Communion rite, and that is also enjoined in the rubrics for the Visitation of the Sick. [Author's note: Mr. Strippy's witness would seem to be contradicted by the introduction, in the Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer, of such catholic elements as a form for sacramental confession. It is indeed contradicted by the way in which some traditionalists have greeted the Blue Book's appearance. I believe, nevertheless, that Strippy's intuition is as sound as his observation. The catholics who welcome the Blue Book are the same people who, for years, have preferred the missal to the Book of Common Prayer. They themselves have been pluralists -- failing to see that the Prayer Book's greatest virtue has been a uniformity that has kept a diverse communion together.]
The Attack upon the Sacraments
This reference to the sacraments brings us to the second thrust of the liberals' program. As I have pointed out, they are out to destroy the traditional bases of authority, but they are also out to destroy the sacraments. That is to say, in the church they visualize they will use the form of the sacraments, but they are utterly unwilling to accept their substance. They do not believe in the sacraments. They do not regard them as means of grace, but merely as symbols of God's love. This is why they must bend the sacraments to their use, discounting the power or purpose they may have in themselves, and obscuring whatever meaning the church may have found in them up to now. `49
It is this anti-sacramental bent -- and not any concern for women or for women's rights -- that is behind the liberals' push for women's ordination. Now that they have, in their own mind, wiped out the authority of the Church as enshrined in Scripture, the Creeds, the Fathers and the Councils, they find themselves up against the other foundation stone of catholic theology -- the seven sacraments. This too is a foundation they have been undermining for many years, but it is in their attack upon Holy Order that their purposes are most clearly and dramatically revealed.
But let us go back. If you will consider the disturbances that have beset the church over the past two decades, you will see that nearly all have involved an attack upon one or more of the sacraments. The first to go by the board was Holy Unction. The liberals never had any belief in it and they hoped it would fall into disuse. It has not, but they have tried to make it as obsolete as the Churching of Women. What they have done with it is to make it a pat on the head with a bedside chat in a hospital room, and let it go at that.
The second sacrament they have gone after is the sacrament of Penance. I was told by a bishop who was on the Executive Council in the mid-sixties that a priest has no more authority to forgive than any layman. This is the liberal position, and it means nothing that Christ has specifically given such authority to the men that He has chosen. As a result, the liberals have transformed penance into another pat on the head that says if you can face yourself God also accepts you as you are. That, of course, is the end of the Sacrament of Penance. [Author's note: Here again Mr. Strippy's witness would appear to be in conflict with the facts. It is not, for despite the Blue Book's inclusion of private sacramental confession, it no longer requires the general confession in the Eucharist, and it provides a form whereby, in other services, a deacon or a lay person may give a declaration of absolution in place of a priest. The Blue Book's rule, therefore, is that confession is strictly an option.]
The third sacrament to come under attack -- and the first to be utterly overthrown -- is Holy Matrimony. This has been accomplished, I regret to say, by ridding ourselves of canons that bound us to God's revealed purpose of indissolubility. That action has been sealed by the liberals in the introduction of a rite that leaves out Jesus' own commandment, "What God therefore hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Not being content with this, the liberals are pushing us into the adoption of a canon allowing homosexual marriage. It is one that would allow homosexual marriages in the church where state laws allowed it, and that would grant the church's blessing upon homosexual unions where such marriage was forbidden.
The fourth sacrament to come under attack is Confirmation. A proof of this can be shown in a roundabout way. One of the senior staff members at 815 told me that a liberal goal in which he heartily concurred was to give the bishops a new kind of authority within a structured national church. This was a new concept at the time, replacing the traditional one of the Church as a federation of dioceses. The fundamental authority of the national church `50 would be the legislative body, which for us is General Convention. This would do away with the traditional concept of the diocese as the basic structure -- a cluster of congregations and presbyters gathered about their bishop. In the new structure, the bishop would be the administrative officer of the national church assigned to one particular area. He would no longer be an apostolic man. Rather, he would be a subordinate -- representing the national church and carrying out its programs. As my associate told it, the way to accomplish this goal was "to do away with the bishop as a confirming machine."
The liberals' first thought was that they could accomplish this end by the device of mass confirmations in the cathedral. Later they decided it would be much easier if they made confirmation another pat on the head that was tacked onto the end of the baptismal service and performed by the local priest. Finally, however, they decided that it was sufficient that confirmation not be a requisite for holy communion. This would free both bishops and priests for their more important duties -- the fulfillment of national programs.
The fifth sacrament to come under attack is that of Order. As I have said, the matter has nothing to do with equal rights or with women's liberation. Rather, it is an attempt by liberals to destroy Holy Order as the Church has always known it. They well appreciate that once the Episcopal Church has instituted women as priests and bishops she can no longer make a serious claim to be a catholic body. Her members will have concurred in an heretical act; that is, they will have asserted the right to choose in a matter that is preordained. They will have deliberately changed the matter and intention of the sacrament, and will have substituted their own idea of vocation for that of Jesus' institution.
Finally, we come to the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. As several liberal leaders have told me, the updating of these has been reserved for last in their program. There is good reason for this, for these two are the most clearly required by Christ and they have the deepest associations for individual Christians. When the question of women's ordination is settled to the liberals' satisfaction, they intend to attack the eucharistic doctrine through a revised liturgy that will have no real meaning, and in which a spiritualist, a Buddhist and an agnostic could participate with equal satisfaction. When so updated, the eucharist will have ceased to be a representation of Christ's sacrifice upon the Cross. It will, instead, be a tribute to a great prophet of the past whose ideas we should all try to live up to.
The final step in the elimination of the sacraments will come when the eucharist has been rearranged to the liberals' satisfaction. They will then take their second step in the updating of Christian initiation. They will attack the doctrine of baptism by contending that it is untrue that humanity is excluded from God's family unless they are baptized. The liberals will then replace Jesus' doctrine with their own: that the entire universe is covered by a baptism of desire, and that physical baptism is superfluous. They will retain water baptism for those who insist upon it, but will not give it a central place in their theology. In the new church baptism will be optional `51 which brings us finally to what the Great Ecumenical Game Plan is all about.
The Ultimate Objectives
The liberals' objective is to create a single American Protestant church. It will be one that blends many identities into one, as an instrument for the expression of the national character. The form of that church will be much like that envisioned in the COCU discussions of the past twelve years. Its creation will require Episcopalians to surrender many, if not most, of their ties with the past. They will have to hack off the rough edges of catholic faith and order, smoothing down what is left of Anglican identity, so they can fit readily into the pan-Protestant mold. Having then stripped the Episcopal Church down to what the liberals believed it was all along -- the fanciest of the Protestant denominations -- their leaders can then make the supreme sacrifice of surrendering all of us into the larger church they believe God wants them to create.
Does this seem unreal in view of recent statements by liberals that COCU is dead? Not at all. COCU's "demise" is an admission they can well afford.
It is at worst a tactical defeat in a war they expect to win, since they are already so close to their goal of neutralizing everything in the Episcopal Church that can prevent us from participating in their planned Protestant union.
Does this objective seem unlikely in view of our stepped-up discussions with Roman Catholics and the Orthodox? Again the answer is no, for it is the liberals' hope to reach out to kindred spirits in Rome and the East to draw them into ultimate union in an even larger church.
The fact is that a pan-American church is only the first of the liberals' long range objectives. When a successor to COCU is accepted -- and it can hardly be anything but an identical twin -- this will not satisfy the liberals. They will have succeeded only in turning the National Council of Churches from a club into a seemingly organic body. Their next goal will be to create an international church in which the World Council of Churches will become a formal religious body. By this time the Romans and the Orthodox may have come within the fold. But whether then or later, it does not matter, for the liberals will not stop until the entire of humanity is incorporated into their Coming Great Church. That church will not only include Christianity. It will include Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism -- all the world's religions and finally even the Jews. In this great body all the faiths of mankind will have their rightful place. When that day comes all the faiths of man, unconverted to Jesus Christ, will take their place in the power structure of a Super World Church. `52
X. AN OUTSIDE WITNESS
Now panic was in full blast, and each sound bee found herself embraced by at least three oddities . . .
"You must feed us or we shall die!" they cried, holding and clutching and slipping, while the silent scared earwigs and little spiders twisted between their legs. "Think of the Hive, traitors! The Holy Hive!"
"You should have thought before!" cried the sound bees. "Stay and see the dawn of your New Day."
Robert Strippy has provided us with an insider's view of the liberal penetration of the church. He has been close enough to the planning process to speak with authority on what has gone on behind the scenes. Therefore it does not seem necessary to establish his credibility. It is enough that he was there -- accepted by top-level planners as one of themselves. He can certify to things that many of us suspected, but were never able to prove.
By contrast, the next witness can give us only an outsider's view -- and therefore a conjectural one. Although a priest, he never sat in on the church's planning, and he has had little to do with putting liberal policy into practice. It seems necessary, therefore, that he first establish his credibility. The witness is the author.
As with many who entered the ministry after World War II, mine was a late vocation. In my own case there was a special concern -- along with the priestly call. It was sorrow for a country and a world that are sliding into an abyss. It was concern for a people who have forsaken the foundations of their life, and are reverting to the age-old barbarism. This is a horror that still affects my ministry after twenty years. But there is, today, a shift in its focus. Now it is not so much the world as the church which is in need of defenders of the faith. In one generation, as a result of her domination by liberals, the church has given up her traditional role as society's chief bulwark against chaos. The church is now one of the chief disrupters of order, and a foremost dissolver of social values.
The biggest disappointment in my ministry was the discovery, in the early 1960's, that the Episcopal Church was being dominated by people who had lost their faith, their nerve, and in many cases their common sense. Until I went to an eastern parish in 1962, I had been insulated from this knowledge. I had entered the ministry in the midwest, where the church was still traditional. My seminary was one where liberalism was creeping -- not galloping. My first five years as a parish priest were occupied in building a congregation from a brand-new mission into a parish. A sixth year was spent `53 at Canterbury itself. This was a memorable year, for it gave the assurance of a communion whose power lay in her breadth and balance -- in the freedom of her children and in the surety of her ties with the Holy Catholic Church.
The All-Liberal Church
To be taken from such a background and exposed to an all-liberal church is a shock indeed. It requires a new kind of commitment and a willingness to suffer for the faith. And this is what happened. For ten years I was one of a remnant in a large diocese. Most of us were confined to small and poor congregations where dependence upon diocesan largess made it difficult to speak out. I was fortunate to be in a large and well-to-do parish, where my stipend was sufficient for my family's needs. Because of this protection and because, after a dozen years in the ministry, I had developed some confidence in my judgment, I began to speak out. I wrote editorials, tracts and even books in support of the historic faith and order. While drawn into far-ranging controversy, I was chiefly concerned about three things: the change in morality, bureaucracy in the church, and clerical domination of the laity.
The late sixties found me both happy with parish life and unhappy with what was going on at the diocesan and national levels. The inharmonious note at that time was the poverty program set up by the '67 General Convention in response to the race riots that had begun the year before, and that had since been racking the land. The G.C.S.P. seemed to me to be a "cop-out" -- a program of handouts given by those who had no intention either of preaching Christ or of following His example of suffering and self-denial. The G.C.S.P.'s theology was the social gospel that pretended to set love above law -- yet that made its demands not from Christian charity, but for the sake of "social justice."
To provide an antidote for a program that promised to drive hundreds of thousands out of the church, I founded, in the fall of 1970, a community called The Company of the Paraclete. It was envisioned as a band of men and women who would themselves engage in a ghetto ministry, earning the money to finance their own programs. Our hope was to bring two critical needs together -- the needs of the inner city and the needs of teachers and clergy who were beginning to be in a painful oversupply.
Had our timing been better, we might indeed have provided a model for the ghettos. Within weeks of our founding we had two dozen aspirants. They included teachers, clergy, lawyers, nurses and social workers -- all willing to give a year or more of their time. On their side, the people of a black congregation in Philadelphia were willing to give us free housing in return for help with their ministry to the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, at that very time the teaching jobs we had counted on -- the jobs that had for many years been going begging in ghetto schools -- were either snapped up or abolished by what, outside the ghettos, was a mild recession. As a result, everyone of our aspirants backed off. and the Company of the Paraclete was reduced to two Episcopal clergy. For many months Fr. Jose Chiovarou and I provided in our ghetto house, a home for parolees from a state penitentiary. We both lived on the premises, and I `54 worked as a corporate consultant on the urban crisis -- providing needed income for our venture as well as a living for my wife and youngest son, who were living with our eldest in nearby Chestnut Hill.
Whatever was lacking in our original timing was recompensed by our readiness for the earthquake that destroyed Managua just before Christmas in 1972. Within hours, Fr. Jose was in touch with church leaders in the area, flying into the city on the first commercial flight. Within two days he had brought a four-truck caravan into the city, bearing twelve tons of food donated by shoppers in nearby San Salvador. To the best of our knowledge, we were the first agency to distribute food in Managua, at a time when other foreign aid was cut off by a New Year's bank holiday.
Our readiness for Managua can only be regarded as God's putting our extremities to use. The experiment in Philadelphia had bogged down when my wife broke her hip a few days after I had finished a study for the gas company -- leaving me with the prospect of months of unemployment. A Roman priest with whom we had been working had had a heart attack, and we had already begun to transfer our parolees to the custody of a nearby Lutheran church. Fr. Jose was thus instantly ready, and he flew to Managua with all the funds we could scrape together.
In the months that followed, Fr. Jose and I developed a mutually supporting ministry. I gave my time to raising funds and publicizing our work in Nicaragua, while he trained forty men and women, keeping them as busy as funds would permit for the next year and a half. During that time the Company of the Paraclete built seventy-five small houses for the nine hundred people of its own encampment. It operated a clinic for eleven thousand people in a dozen such barrios near Matagalpa. It engaged in public health work and in community organization. It distributed food and clothing supplied by other agencies. It set up a poultry cooperative. Its members provided thousands of man-hours in free labor to such agencies as Red Cross and Caritas. In addition, Fr. Jose's food caravan and his subsequent appearance on the Today show provided the dramatic publicity for what turned out to be the largest offering the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief had ever had.
Everything that happened in Nicaragua demonstrated the viability of our idea. We had tried to show that a temporary monasticism might be the ideal way for Christians to help the suffering. And we had done it. We had volunteers from three Central American countries working under the direction of a single Yankee; they were an ecumenical group who included Catholics, Protestants and Anglicans. Our program differed from the G.C.S.P. in three ways: it was not a dependency of the church, it sent people rather than money, and its members went in response to human need instead of in response to the demands of social justice. Our program differed from U.S. foreign aid in that we operated almost entirely through people on the scene, with only minimal support or direction from outside. Our form of community differed from other religious orders in that we existed only to serve, and had no need to give thought to our members' futures. Indeed, we had no need to provide for the Company's future. We could expand or contract like `55 an accordion, reverting to a concept at times when there was no crisis. The pattern provided -- and was intended to provide -- a way for whole churches to be of help when disaster strikes.
Witness Number Two
Let us return to the matter of witness. As I have said, I am not an insider like Mr. Strippy, so I have had to establish my credentials. It must be obvious by now that, though a traditionalist, I have been as involved as any liberal could want a churchman to be. I am therefore in a position to answer the following questions: Have the liberals been truly involved? Have they been on the firing line? Have they been supportive of one who was engaged in good works, but who was not one of their own? Have they joined forces with those who have a different outlook -- trusting that God, in His providence -- will use the labors of those who, are devoted to Him? The answer to all of these questions is a firm, resounding no.
When in 1970 I got my bishop's blessing to form the Company of the Paraclete, I could not know that he would subsequently do all in his power to block my return to a parish. Even though the order proposed to do exactly what liberals wanted, it was known that the Company of the Paraclete was a deliberate alternative to a controversial G.C.S.P. As a longtime editorialist against divisive church programs, and as the company's founder, I was therefore persona non grata with the Establishment.
To be sure, this fact was never made clear when I left the cloister and headed for the ghetto. My relations with my bishop had always been good, and he had never had any adverse comments on my ministry. But, when my wife broke her hip two years later, the mailed fist within the velvet glove began to be felt. The bishop's response to the news was a generous one; he offered to do all he could to help me find a parish. However, when I asked a year later what he was doing to make good his promise, he wrote that he could do nothing -- that my only prospects lay in the few dioceses of the South and West where he had no influence. The blackball should not have been unexpected, for his assistant had written me months before, urging me to forget my vows and go back to the investment business.
The heartlessness of the liberal stance may be hinted at in something else that happened at this time. Toward the end of a year and a half's unemployment, I called the director of the Clergy Deployment Office. I inquired of him whether, during that time, my card had ever been turned up by the computer. After checking, he confirmed what I suspected -- that it had not turned up once in all that period. Considering the breadth and the effectiveness of my previous ministry, I had to conclude that the worst had happened -- that a blackball had somehow been recorded on my card.
During this same period of wife-nursing and of earthquake rehabilitation, I wrote a small novel called The Holy Slice. It dealt with the church in the midst of change, and it was published by a syndicate of traditionalist groups and distributed to bishops and deputies in advance of General Convention. Some time before its publication I received a call from a friend who had been one of the top men at 815. He begged me not to publish the book, `56 assuring me that if I did there would never again be a post open to me in the church. The call, I might add, was not a threat but an act of concern. The man felt obligated to me for a long ministry to his dying father, and he wanted to save me from what he felt to be my indiscretion. As it turned out, the book was published and I did get a parish, but it shows what my friend knew about the System.
A Joining of Witness
Let me say how my witness corroborates Robert Strippy's. I agree with him that the liberals in the church are a self-appointed elite, dominating the seminaries, the church staffs, the wealthy parishes and the House of Bishops itself. I doubt that as many as half of our clergy are genuinely liberal, yet that minority controls more than three quarters of the Church's key posts. I doubt that even ten percent of our laity are sincerely and aggressively liberal, yet that small number dominates ninety percent of the top lay positions. As Strippy says, they are a clique. Like teenagers who take pleasure only in one another's company, they reject the very idea of parental control, which to them is "the dead hand of the past." Glorying in their own wisdom, charm and tolerance, they gang up on those whose opinions do not fit in with their scheme.
There is one way in which liberals have never yet succeeded. They want enormously to be liked and respected by oppressed minorities. Yet this is denied them, largely because they are lacking in what, to the truly aggrieved, is the highest of virtues: a sense of loyalty to one's own. Perhaps this is why liberals are so seldom to be found where the poor actually live and work. And this is a fact, for I have been there and I know; there are no liberals in the ghettos. Radicals, yes; conservatives, yes; but liberals, no. They are only to be found in the centers of already-existing power.
It is a curious characteristic of the liberal that he has this affinity for wealth and power. I call it curious because it is not in his province to create these things. He can convert them and he can pervert them. Occasionally, in the Spirit, he can transform them. But he cannot create them.
It is also curious that nearly every liberal has a sense of guilt because he is the product of someone else's wealth. The elderly liberal feels guilty because he is the product of family wealth. The young liberal and the black liberal are equally self-conscious because where the State is paterfamilias they are the products of public wealth. Despite the guilt, however, there is no disposition on the liberal's part to renounce wealth and power and to give what he has away. Rather, he is disposed to give away what other people have. In the church, he clusters with like-minded souls at the point where money is found and where power decisions are made. He is not in the least hesitant to spend upon himself and upon his programs the holy offerings of the poor.
I agree with what Robert Strippy has said about the liberals' rejection of the sacraments, and about the timetable that they seem to be following in the pursuit of their goals. I agree also upon the liberals' discreditation of the `57 Bible, the Creeds, the Fathers and the Councils. But I had never thought, in this connection, of the Prayer Book as being the liberal's target because it is the final bulwark of tradition. For me this is a fascinating insight, yet one that is also self-evident. In my own mind I had thought of Prayer Book reform as a compulsion required by random-direction -- a form of identity I have described in a book called The Restless Heart. Strippy's explanation is a simpler one than mine, and one with which we can more readily come to grips.
Strippy has pointed with a fine instinct to the tie between liberalism and COCU. The tie-in explains why the catholic-minded Bishop Stephen Bayne's MRI program [Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ -- a product of the Anglican Congress of 1963.] was so quickly shelved when COCU came along a year or two later. It also explains why the liberals can so cheerily announce that "COCU is dead" when they are so near to getting what they want. [MRI represented a radically different set of goals than COCU. The latter is the religious expression of a Pan-American nationalism, whereas the former may well have been the dying expression of Pan-Anglican internationalism. The MRI document is, in effect, the mother church saying to the daughters. "Look, girls, I can no longer support you. From now on you'll have to get along on your own. Let's call ourselves a band of sister churches, and get rid of that unhealthy old dependency relationship." By contrast, COCU is saying, in effect, "Whatever it was that we Protestants once believed, it's no longer worth the price of separation. Let's just get together." In the sense that both movements were dictated by weakness, we can hardly regard them as products of the Spirit. The MRI document at least is Christian. As an expression of liberal doctrine, COCU is post-Christian at best.]
I would like to carry my witness, however, to a field that Strippy has neglected. He has nowhere in his testimony connected liberalism with the shift in morality that has come in the past generation -- a radical change that is found quite as much within the church as in society as a whole. This ferment in values has brought a change in our views on sexuality, on the marriage bond, on vocation, on vows, on the propriety of "expression," on abortion, on justice, on punishment -- on what can and what cannot be tolerated by a society. It is a shift that has been almost unanimously supported by liberals, resulting in a spate of resolutions and in a number of new canons in the Church. This element of liberal provocation needs most critically to be exposed and dealt with. It is an element in our common life that can be more immediately destructive than what the liberals may hope to accomplish in their Coming Great Church. The new morality, because it is set against what God has revealed of His will, must undo more than the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. It will dissolve the cardinal virtues upon which even a pagan society must rest -- the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. More than any factor in the contemporary scene, the liberalization of morals may bring on the situation that Kipling envisioned in The Mother Hive. `58
XI. PREDESTINATION a la MARX AND FREUD
The Princess left the alighting-board, circled once, flung herself at the lowest branch of the Old Oak, and her little loyal swarm -- you could have covered it with a pint mug -- followed, hooked and hung.
"Hold close!" Melissa gasped. "The old legends have come true! Look!"
The Hive was half hidden by smoke, and Figures moved through the smoke. They heard a frame crack stickily, saw it heaved high and twirled around between enormous hands -- a blotched, bulged and perished horror of grey wax, corrupt brood, and small drone cells, all covered with crawling Oddities, strange to the sun.
"Why, this isn't a hive! This is a museum of curiosities," said the Voice behind the Veil. It was only the Bee Master talking to his son.
One of man's subtlest preoccupations is that of creating gods after his own image. It is something to which civilized people are as prone as barbarians, and from which Christians are not exempt. We can see this as we trace the evolution of social character in the West, and as we see how the Church adapted its theology to what Western man had already become.
When Europe was emerging from feudalism there was a single pattern of social character. It was a pervading tribalism, in which every man was "involved" in every other. While for villagers and serfs life was purely local and upward mobility impossible, medieval life had a universality that is alien to an unalloyed tribal condition. It was provided by the Catholic religion, which gave to otherwise unrelated political entities a single view of God and man, a single set of values, and a unity of worship. The various classes were bound by this common world-view, and they were likewise bound by the one class to which upward mobility could be allowed because its members could possess neither heirs nor property: the clergy. Only a nobleman could become a king, but a peasant could be pope.
A foundation of catholic uniformity was all-important to the individualism of the Renaissance, for private integrity required a universal and unchanging set of values. It demanded loyalties that could be expanded to include king and country without reducing those of family and clan. It does not matter that the new identity -- sense had ultimately to create a religion of its own. What matters is that it came from an expanded view of man. The medieval city dweller found himself a member, not of one group, but of many. Each differed in its purpose, and each demanded of him a different `59 skill. Together they developed in him the many-faceted personality that the manor had not been able to produce. Back home he had been Jacques -- the son of serfs and seemingly destined to be the sire of serfs. But he had gone as a soldier with the Crusades, and had seen the world and had tested his courage and devotion. Settling in the city upon his return, he had become a member of the stonemason's guild, of the St. Denis parish church, of the Nancy Mummers, of the Alehouse duPont, of the Montaubon firefighters. Because these bodies were unrelated excepting through Jacques (he alone was a member of them all) they molded him into a unique personality without being able to make any ultimate demands. He now was able to be a private person as well as a "member." He was beginning to enjoy a personal mobility and he was moving towards a still-undefined Protestant religion. He was beginning to think of his relationship with God as capable of being one-to-One.
The Europe of Renaissance and Reformation had its dangers, but at least it offered this security: man knew that his frailty was his own, and not that of God or the system. Not until the 18th century Enlightenment -- when cultural complexity began to be enervating rather than invigorating -- did the system begin to be in doubt. Not until then did there appear the possibility of gods -- many and of gods -- none (and therefore of systems-many and systems-none). From this point on many people felt the need of a new system that would replace all the old ones, and of a new man to replace the old. It seemed necessary that all tradition be abolished, and that economic individualism and political nationalism come to an end. The world must be molded into a new and universal tribalism, squeezing man into a new, collective personality.
Medieval man had found the Catholic concepts of grace and authority quite suited to his needs. These were altogether right for those whose identity-sense was tribal, even as they are today. Where one's sense of self is that of being a member, there is no injustice in being subordinate, and it is fitting that God's revelation and power be mediated by a priest. It made sense also that divine authority be found in the Body of Christ and in her unbroken tradition -- allowing the insights and lore of the past to make their claim upon the contemporary world.
This was and is the catholic view of man. Long before the Reformation, however, there was a different idea as to what man was becoming, and a set of theological specifications was already being developed to describe that condition. The man who had been set free from tribalism by travel and trade had -- to the same degree -- been set free from awe of the local priest. The one who had learned to read could not be far behind the priest in interpreting the meaning of Holy Writ. The one who had accidentally stumbled upon the use of the Divine Office found himself set free from cultic constrictions, for the Office, unlike the Eucharist, requires neither priest nor sacred precincts. It can be said by the Christian with his family or as part of his private devotions.
While each of the reformers had a part in adapting catholic faith and practice to the new condition of man, none had so important a part as John Calvin. Calvin appreciated that the Renaissance economy had grown `60 too complex for either Church or State to control, and that its regulation must be left up to God -- via such divine, self-enforcing laws as Adam Smith was later to describe. Calvin's concept of the Church as a mystical and invisible Body provided a useful rationale to the man who had already discovered his individual identity. It released that man from the catholic belief that the Church is a visible and sacramental Body, and it gave support for these views in a Bible which he could now read for himself.
Imagery of Freedom
The crown of Calvin's theology, however, was his doctrine of predestination and election. The catholic layman had never had much freedom, partly because of his subordinate membership in a hierarchical body and partly because he was already regarded as so free as to require a fence around his thought and action. Calvin got around the problem of freedom with his teaching that the elect were not free at all, but cooperating with God in the fulfillment of a predestined purpose. The Calvinist regarded himself as a soldier of Christ. He was not like the catholic, a conscript, but rather a volunteer. He had come into the Church, not as an unwitting infant, but as a free and consenting adult. He had surrendered his freedom in the service of Jesus Christ. As a result he belonged to the elect. But he was also enslaved. He could now be given a near-total liberty because of the paradoxical view that he was not free at all. Needing no other captain than Jesus Christ, he could be entrusted with lengthy and detached tours of duty because Christ was always with him.
It was this imagery that lay behind the rise of individual initiative and the corresponding rise of Western power. What frailties accompanied laissez faire cannot be blamed on Calvin; it was not a part of his system that there be a license to pollute and destroy. The Calvinist economy simply expanded the medieval economy by substituting trust in God for economic planning. It lifted direction from Rome and placed it above the clouds in heaven. The price controls that, in the medieval arrangement, had been imposed by the Church for the good of the poor were now removed with the belief a) that an economy that must be totally understood by men -- in order to be controlled -- is not adequate for their needs, b) that bureaucratic controls cannot expand an economy, but only retard it, c) that if God is in charge, human controls only complexify the system needlessly.
In advancing this social theology, Calvin was saying, in effect, "The medieval image of man was not really that of a human being at all, but of a beast like the dinosaur, whose body was so large and whose brain so far away that sub-brains were needed in the body [in the dinosaur, nodules along the spine] to do what the head alone cannot accomplish." Seen in this light, Calvin's theology is not individualistic at all. It is quite as organic as that of the medieval synthesis, but is open to elements that are beyond the understanding or control of man. By requiring the Church to be the Body -- that is, by accepting her mind and will as being outside the Body -- Calvin allowed Christ to be the Head `61
The Flaw in Individualism
Unfortunately, while Calvin's rationale seemed to give divine approval to Renaissance individualism, there are troublesome side effects for the age we are passing through. The idea of an invisible Church was intended to free the Christian from the clinging threads of tribalism; an unseen (and therefore obscure) church can hardly speak with the authority that emanates from a visible body directed by sacerdotal order. But the result was a victory for nominalism. The Church became whatever one wanted it to be, rather than what it objectively was. So did everything else; there was nothing that was not now subject to reshaping by the roving eye of man. Once the Enlightenment was come, Calvin's intellectual permissiveness became a trigger for cults whose aim was to reshape God, Church, sacraments, liturgies and ministries to the ever-changing shape of man.
Calvin's view of predestination has also turned out to have unfortunate side effects. With the decline of individual identity, many of Calvin's heirs (notably the Presbyterians) have written off a concern for personal salvation as mere piety. Yet their predestinarianism continues, for it has received an added impetus from the work of Marx and Freud and Pavlov. It is now so little concerned for the individual as to abandon him to his fate, yet it has a plausibility and a fervor that has won a great many people to its way of thinking. The new rationale is more anthropology than theology, to be sure: its basic assumption is the collectivist view of man. Its gospel is social rather than personal, and its concern is the temporal rather than the eternal. Yet it passes for religion and it claims divine authority. It seeks to fill all of communism's goals -- and to provide pie in the sky as well.
Before demonstrating the essential predestinarianism of the liberal theologian, let me draw brief attention to predestination itself. Predestiny is simple enough; it means that the future is decided before we act, and that our freedom is therefore more apparent than real. From the secular viewpoint there is no freedom at all; our decisions are the result of impulse and of conditioned reflex. In the religious view only God is free; man's choices are in fulfillment of His purpose. In either case, the predestinarian is relieved of the doubts and ambiguities of those who believe in human freedom, and whose consciences require that they exercise their freedom responsibly.
It seems inevitable that predestinarian philosophies make their appeal in times of uncertain and divided loyalties. We cannot think it strange that men who are under stress do not want to be free. To be caught up in a vast cause, to believe that the battles we fight are already won, are invigorating for the heart -- if not the mind -- of man. This explains why Islam and Communism have had so much appeal in their heyday, and why their early successes were overwhelming until their failure to deal adequately with freedom slowed them down. `62
One mark of the predestinarian is a total self-assurance, springing from the ultimacy of his cause. His is a fatalistic philosophy, to be sure, but there is one side to be on, and he is on it. The self-righteousness of his camp is reflected in such labels as chosen people, workers, reborn and saved.
Another mark of the predestinarian is his total disagreement with those who are not on his side. This goes beyond personal conflict; the outsider is an infidel, goy, bourgeois, lost. To the predestinarian, his opponent is an enemy of history itself; this is why progressive-reactionary is more bitter a dynamic that Hegel's thesis-antithesis-synthesis, from which Marx derived his view of history. Even without willing it, the progressive churchman can hardly help being an angry revolutionary. Mild and loving as is his self-image, in every liberal there is a bit of the abolitionist John Brown, and of the hippie conservationist, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme.
We need give no further thought to how or why the liberal became what he is; it is enough to show him as a predestinarian in what he does. I have already given an abundance of examples of how liberal clergy regard the Church's ministry and sacraments. A cleric who is "with it" can hardly pay attention to the pastoral care of souls; if his people are already saved he is wasting his time trying to be their pastor and priest. For him, as for the oldfashioned Calvinist, the essential ministry is to enlarge the ranks of the saved with all possible speed, and to direct their energies, not to the sanctification of their souls, but to the proof of their salvation in such good works as the social gospel demands. Likewise, a priest who is "with it" must take the Calvinist view of the sacraments as being merely symbols, and not as something real and holy in themselves. If the Church's members are already saved, the sacraments cannot really be means of grace.
There is, of course, one immense difference between the modern liberal and the old-fashioned Calvinist. (It is far more than the difference between the individual and collective views of man.) Calvin really believed in the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. He really believed in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. He really believed there is such a thing as sin. In this he was no different than orthodox Christians had been from the beginnings of their faith. What modifications he had made in doctrine and worship were the minimum necessary to allow the already-individualized Christian man to understand himself.
Liberalism and Salvation
The modern liberal, by contrast, has had to overthrow the entire structure of faith and practice to arrive at a theological justification of collective personality. He has had to deny the Doctrine of Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the necessity of self-denial, the reality of sin, Law, death and judgment. He is a predestinarian, but not in any Christian sense. He is a mere behaviorist, He subscribes to a fatalism that denies human freedom and responsibility, that holds man ultimately unaccountable for his wrongdoing. His is an unblinking optimism that looks only at "Love" and not at Truth. He is so convinced by his progressive view of history that he ends up blackmailing God with his defective logic, "The Man Upstairs is a good fellow; He `63 will not finally let His children down. Saved, to the liberal, is not "salvation finally won." It is, "Really, there is no battle."
To be sure, this is a black-and-white picture; not all liberals think as this. But it is the liberal point of view to which all who subscribe must ineluctably be drawn. One who is 100% of a liberal mind cannot believe in other than man as God. He cannot believe in divine authority as other than what he and his fellows think.
Somewhere in the highest stratum of world-churchmanship there are spigots leading directly from the unconscious and the super ego of newly collectivized man. They provide all that is needed for a continual updating of the programs for liberal action. The ideas emerging from this precious font are tested for: 1) relevancy ("Can they be defended as a new revelation from the Divine?"), 2) novelty ("Are they against all traditional experience and common sense?") and 3) dramatic impact ("Coming on the heels of other shockers, will they have such an unsettling effect on traditionalists as to make them grasp -- like drowning people -- the liberal platform as a straw?"). The liberal churchman, by now secure in his new identity, sees no ambiguity either in his dicta or in his method of handing them down. He fails to detect what every other generation of Christians would have seen to be pagan and even demonic. Even when his party line is forced to take a radical flip-flop (as in the switch described in Chapter IV), he fails to see the implication. He is as gullible as was the American socialist who, in August of 1941, had to reclassify Hitler from "friend of the working class" to Public Enemy Number One.
It is not Divine Revelation or historic understanding that shapes the liberal platform that is being handed down today. Rather, it is the ethical imperative of the collectivist mind. In that mind both the unconscious and the conscious elements are joined to shatter all traditional forms of thought and behavior, and to superimpose new forms whose only value is that they are foreign to the old. It is the collectivist's psychic impulse, rather than any privy conspiracy or superior communication on his part, that dictates what his platform shall be.
The Liberal Platform
These are the essential components of the liberal platform. What policy emerges from them and what will be the order of their emphasis are dictated by the politics of the moment:
1) God is no longer to be thought of as "out there." Henceforth, He is to be thought of as "down here." It is fitting that such a warm and "involved" Deity be regarded in terms of divine motherhood, rather than in terms of remote and cold paternity.
2) Law and judgment now have no place in Christian thought. There is only one absolute to reckon with -- the Absolute of LOVE.
3) There are no miracles. The Church must close its mind to the super `64 natural and be reconciled with science.
4) All differentiation is discrimination. To be equal is to be the same. Therefore profane equals sacred, clerical equals lay, female equals male, function equals role.
5) Priesthood and sacraments are not intrinsically necessary functions, but are only roles required of men and matter. They belong to myth, not to reality.
6) Ministering to one another is the laity's job; in a predestinarian community the clergy's role is that of administration, training, planning.
7) The real self-denial is the repudiation of harmful systems. The purpose of the Church is to liberate its members from the dead past and to allow them to participate in the true freedom of the Spirit.
8) True ecumenism is not the reunion of scattered Christian bodies, but the universalizing of the Church in such a way as to effect the union of all mankind.
9) Liturgical renewal requires the abolition of Morning and Evening Prayer. This is not to say there is any Real Presence in Holy Communion. The Eucharist is simply the best way we have of promoting a sense of togetherness; it is our primary means for retribalizing the world. `65
XII. WHAT'S TO BE DONE?
The Figures stooped, lifted the Hive, and shook it upside down over the pyre. A cascade of Oddities, chips of broken comb, scale, fluff and grubs slid out, crackled, sizzled, popped a little, and then the flames roared up and consumed all that fuel.
"We must disinfect," said a Voice. "Get me a sulphur-candle, please."
The picture we see is that of a church that is no longer one body, but two. The restraint and the balance that gave Anglicanism its breadth have been taken away, and we are forced to choose between the same forms of identity the rest of the world is offered -- traditional and technological man. Our choices boil down to this: do we accept the priority of God's transcendence, basing our faith upon the insights and revelations He has given us in the past? Or do we discard the supernatural, and seek to have divinity explained only in terms of our humanity?
Today we are not permitted to have both -- and this is not because traditional man has no room for the present, but because technological man has no room for the past. As William Hamilton has put it, the God who used to be "out there" is dead, and transcendence has been swallowed up in immanence. In a liberal church there is no room for a transcendent and ineffable God or for the mighty wonders He performs. Nor is there a place for the reverence, the awe and the sense of sinfulness that prostrates man before Him.
If we reflect on their differences, we can see how nearly impossible it is for these churches to be reconciled. There is a great gulf fixed between the two. It is formed by their utterly different views of Church and community, of order, doctrine, discipline, worship, sacraments, grace -- of the nature of God and man.
The traditionalist believes in the formulas he speaks of when he recites the Creed. For him they are in no way outworn or irrelevant; in fact, they are as timeless in the twentieth century as they were in the century of their formulation. In this act of worship the traditionalist expresses his belief in the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement and the inevitability of Final Judgment. In it he expresses his belief in the reality of sin and in the absolute need for saving grace.
The liberal does not believe in these things at all. For him sin is an outworn concept; it has been displaced by the doctrine of behaviorism. This means that the Cross itself is without purpose, at least from the manward side. But there is more to it than that. If Christ is not divine, the `66 Cross is without meaning from the Godward side, and has no universal power to save. At best, it shows Jesus' "freedom" and the universality of His love.
The difference between these viewpoints is so deep and profound as to seem irreconcilable. There seems no possibility of holding the two churches together save by the time-honored device of coalition government. In the present situation, however, there is no prospect of coalition. The liberal minority are clearly in control and have given ample indications of their intention to create a totalitarian, all-liberal church. Under the circumstances there seems no alternative to schism.
Before we go further, we should understand the terms we are about to use. Schism, which is the bugaboo of liberals, is not so much a cause as it is an effect. It is not so much a disease as it is a symptom -- the symptom of a disease called heresy. As an evil in itself, schism is a sin against unity, but it arises from a greater evil -- heresy -- which is a sin against the truth. Heresy is the existence in a body of an untrue teaching or practice. It is the proliferating and all-consuming lie which, like cancer must be destroyed by radiation or cut out by surgery lest the body die.
Perhaps because of its subtlety, heresy is more demonic than schism. Schism is always harsh -- no more so than today, when it is made to seem "unloving." But heresy has a tiny beginning; it is the exercise of the right to choose. Unfortunately, heresy is the assumption of a right where no right exists. It is important to say this, because there are so many areas where man has not only the right, but the obligation, to choose. Whether in science or in religion, however, there are areas where the right simply does not exist. They are the areas of axiomatic truth -- the self-evident and a priori truths on which all else is based. "1+1=2" is fact, and it would be foolish as well as heretical to say it is not. Similarly, "God is perfect and eternal, while man is mortal and a sinner," is fact. No amount of wishful thinking can change this. It is an axiom that precedes all theologizing.
To describe heresy in this way is not to speak lightly of schism. It is merely to point out that schism is unthinkable in a body where the members are in agreement, but that it is inevitable where there is disagreement, not only in matters of observance, but on basics of the faith.
And this is where we stand in the Episcopal Church today. There is widespread denial of the truths that the Holy Catholic Church has held to be self-evident to men of faith. There is denial not only of the "variables" that are found in discipline and worship, but of the unchangeable matters of faith and order. In this Year of Our Lord 1976 we are on the verge of giving official denial to the truths asserted in the Preface of the Book of Common Prayer, in the Preface to the Ordinal, and in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. I refer, of course, to the ordination of women.
So much has already been written and spoken on the subject that it would be superfluous to repeat it here. It is worth noting, however, that the move for women's ordination in itself proceeds from an heretical position. Could we quiz the proponents of women's ordination, we would find that nearly all of them are heretical in other matters of the faith. How many people, for example, who believe in the Virgin Birth are in favor of having women priests? `67
I venture to say they are few -- and most of them lay people who believe in the Bible but who know little about historic priesthood. How many theologians who believe both in the sacramental priesthood and in the creedal doctrines are in favor of ordaining women? I venture to say there are none.
1976 may well be the year in which the Episcopal Church fell officially into what it has often been accused of -- heresy. If so, it will be the year in which she followed other protestant bodies in referring Church Order to Discipline rather than to Doctrine, and in so doing denied a significant aspect of the faith. To say this is not to be schismatic; it is merely to speak the truth. In the undivided Church no branch -- not even a whole communion -- has ever had the authority to do such a thing, and this is what heresy is all about. Heresy is a posture to which Anglicans have always been tempted, but in which they have never officially engaged. In ordaining women as priests or bishops, the Anglicans will finally have crossed the line.
There are only two ways in which the matter can be dealt with. One is for traditionalists to act with enough force and conviction to make the liberals postpone their plans. The other is for traditionalists to refuse to acknowledge any policy the liberals may impose -- which is, in effect, to break communion. The first may work, for the liberals know very well that they are a distinct minority in the total church. But it is only likely to work if there is clear evidence that the traditionalist majority are ready and willing to make the break. It is unlikely that the liberals will even pause in their aggressive designs unless there is clear articulation of an alternative leading to schism.
Before going further, let us get another thing straight. A break with liberals would not mean that traditionalists had seceded from the Episcopal Church. It would be the acknowledgement of a break that liberals made a long time ago. The departing body in such a schism would not be the traditionalists, even though they might be formalizing a break. The departing body would be the liberals, who in their heresies have long since broken in mind and spirit with the universal Church. It is true that the liberals would be the "continuing body" in that they would hold onto most of the legal forms of PECUSA, especially at the national and diocesan level. But the Church is primarily substance -- not form -- and the substance is what the liberals have abandoned. This is something that even the civil courts would probably recognize in any litigation that might ensue over property or pension rights.
Things to Do Right Now
Most of the hurt to the church has come from other levels than the parish, so it is significant that the corrective can be applied from the parish level. This is so despite the timidity and the ignorance of many lay people, and for four reasons. The parish is where the membership is, it is where the devotion is, and it is where both the money and the common sense are. A great deal can be accomplished if lay people will put aside their sense of helplessness and get on their feet and act. Here are some things they can do:
1) Organize. Fill parish meetings with people who want a return to the `68 historic faith, the apostolic tradition and an un-watered-down Prayer Book. Round up the people who have left in despair, getting them to speak and cast their vote. See that people who are elected to church conventions are clearly instructed, and require that they report back on how they have actually voted. Arrange for other than annual meetings to discuss the issues the church is faced with.
2) Use moral force. Let your bishop, your rector, your convention deputies know exactly where you stand. Use your giving and your control of church funds to back up your demands for righteous government and sound mission. See that congregations and dioceses, as well as individuals, are encouraged to speak up for the right. Rebuke and, if necessary, banish those who would further heresy in the church, and who are disobedient to their vows.
3) Protect the church's theocracy by constitutional safeguards against change in morals, faith and order.
4) Protect the church's democracy by requiring a referendum on all constitutional amendments and by allowing referenda on all other matters for decision by conventions.
5) Assure the heightening of obedience to vows by instituting a system of recall for all who are on tenure. Such a device would make it possible to remove bishops and other clergy without having to convict them of heresy, immorality or mental incompetence.
6) Rid the church of bureaucracy by giving directly to missions, and by encouraging congregations to do the same. Use direct giving and direct relationship-to-mission as a means of building up a sense of corporate involvement and commitment.
7) Occupy yourselves with the life of worship and prayer. See that your clergy are so busy ministering to their own people that they have no time for the career-building activities that may otherwise engage them. This is the very best way to keep both parish and priest in the Holy Catholic Church. It is more the Lord's way than the six already mentioned. It enables us to get rid of the cancer of heresy by the irradiation of the Spirit, as well as by acting as surgeons to what, at best, is painful work.
Things to be Done Now or Later
1) Return the functions of leadership and authority to the bishops of the Church -- once they have been cleared of their heresies and have indicated a will to be truly defenders of the faith. We know how idolatrous `69 democracy can be, especially in things of the spirit. Most Christians would be readier to trust their bishops than themselves -- provided they be holy men of God.
2) We must give up our politicking in the episcopate by seeing to it that bishops are not politically chosen. Both for the sake of myth and of pragmatics, it will be well to give the final choice to God in a sacred lot, such as was used in the Old Testament [Exod. 28:30, Deut. 33:8] and as seems to have been used in the choice of Matthias [Acts 1:24,26].
3) We must tighten up our practice in the matter of vocation and vows. If a vocation is an exclusive calling of God and if He calls whom He needs, we must see to the ordination and deployment of all who have responded faithfully to that call, and have sacrificed everything to His service. The vow between priest and Church, like that between husband and wife, is a two-way obligation.
4) Put an end to the system of tenure, which has never protected prophetic utterance so much as it has pastoral irresponsibility. Replace tenure with a contractual system whereby the pastoral relationship can be reviewed and renewed every five to eight years.
Preparation for the Day of Separation
The course of schism is a dangerous one, even where we have a sense of the rightness of our cause. Not only is schism a grave act in itself, its very appearance is grave. In the categories of human sin and fault "things done" inevitably loom as more awful than "things left undone." Nevertheless, where a church has already become officially heretical, it is better to act than not to act. In conscience it is better -- both corporately and individually -- to separate one's self from the lie than to acquiesce in it. In this separation from untruth the schismatic act can be taken to have divine purpose. God has always been prophetic, and He has always indicated His uses of the faithful remnant.
One thing, however, should be recognized at the outset. Regardless of personal belief, it is likely that all of the bishops of the Episcopal Church would, in the event of schism, stay with the Establishment. This means that such decision as is taken in God's behalf must begin with individual pastors and with individual congregations.
It is likely that on the parish level there are hundreds of priests and congregations who even today are giving consideration to schism, and who tomorrow will be ready to act. Were such action to be done with restraint, and were it to show no signs of wrenching a "Continuing Church" loose from its Anglican moorings, it is very likely that some bishops and some `70 dioceses would feel encouraged to make a change in their commitments. The actions suggested here can be a preparation against that day.
1) Check the titles of your parish property to be sure that the buildings, funds and endowments are the property of the congregation and not of the bishop. There are several dioceses in the Episcopal Church where not only the mission churches, but the parish churches as well, are owned by the bishop as corporation sole.
2) Refuse the ministration of those who have been participants in heretical ministries of the church. This would clearly include priestesses and the bishops who had ordained them. It would also include priests who had laid hands upon them at their ordination.
3) Refuse to pay the diocesan assessments that provide the salaries of such heretical bishops. Refuse also to pay for such programmatic aspects of diocesan and national budgets as touch any aspect of heretical teaching and practice.
4) Watch and wait, looking to the Lord to supply our need. Avoid parochialism by intensifying the life of worship and evangelism. Avoid the temptation to fall back into the liberal orbit, and equally avoid the temptation to ally with Rome, the Orthodox or any of the splinter apostolic bodies. If you are faithful, you can count on it that others are, too, and that God will provide for our needs when the apprenticeship is over.
Coming from a system where the bishop is essentially a suffragan and a bureaucrat, it will heighten our understanding if, for a few years, we have no bishops. First, we shall see how surprisingly well we can get along without them. Secondly, we shall see how much we really need them. We shall see that they are indeed the essential links with the historic Church. We shall see that they are essential as fathers in God to their priests. We shall see that nothing is more central than their function as defenders of the faith. But we can get along without them -- until we rediscover what God has always meant His bishops to be. It will be no great loss that we must go without confirmation for a few years. It will be no great loss that we go, for a while, without ordinations -- in fact, this may be the real reason God has given us a surplus of priests. We can get by without ordaining new priests for as long as it will take for God to give us chief pastors who are sound in the faith.
For what it is worth, the new liberal church will be more the sufferers than will we. It is true that they will retain most of the fine buildings, the endowments and the "perks" that go with establishment. But they will be increasingly top-heavy and clergy-ridden. There will still be that anxious search for relevance, with recriminations over decline in membership and attendance. The mania for change will still be there, with adjustments made `71 in worship, faith and morals in the face of every wind that blows.
This is not to say our lot will be easy. But we have a sure faith, a sound liturgy and values that have been relevant to every state of man. We have a Prayer Book and, in fact, an ascetical system that has no need for contemporary packaging. And we shall still retain the Anglican balance. We shall still be a home for the old-fashioned high churchmen and low churchmen. And the emphasis on the Spirit will still be there, for the charismatics will never surrender their insistence on the authority of Holy Scripture -- and thus will be with us.
The Divine Purpose of Schism: Some Possibilities
What, then, can be the value of schism? If the old tensions will remain among traditionalists, why let the liberals go? Simply because the old tensions are real and therefore creative; they exist because of differences of personhood and identity within the Godhead itself. By comparison, the liberals have shattered that dynamic by their decision to separate the present from the past -- which is to divorce the Spirit from the Father and the Son.
The heresy of the liberals has been to create new doctrine on the basis of what only seemed to be present revelation. They have assured us that the Spirit is telling us to seek "fulfillment," to make wives out of men and to make fathers out of women; in short, they are telling us that the Father Himself has become permissive. But this revelation is not of the Father or the Spirit. It is more likely from the spirit of the age, if not from the Antichrist himself. The liberal error has been a twofold one: the assumption that the Spirit can reveal truth that is contrary to what has been revealed in the past, and the assumption that revelation can be certified by majority vote in a simple canonical procedure. The Quakers, who knew the Spirit far better than the liberals, had a better procedure for seeking revelation. They waited upon Him in the quiet of the meeting -- and continued to wait until everyone was of one accord.
The divine purpose of schism within the Episcopal Church may simply be judgment-before-the-time. It may be the separation of a remnant whom God wishes to hold fast against the dreadful Day of the Lord. Such a possibility is clearly a scriptural one, and has been amply described by Christ.
There is a larger purpose for separation, however, than the matter of priestesses in the Episcopal Church. It sets obedience and judgment into a far larger context than that of one issue or even of one communion. The controversy between traditionalists and liberals is one that affects every church and that is rapidly polarizing them all. It is, as it were, judgment in itself; it places all Christendom into two camps: those who worship a God who has revealed Himself in the past and those who worship the god of this present time.
Such a picture has been drawn by David Wilkerson in a prophetic little book, describing a vision he had in the summer of 1973 [David Wilkerson, The Vision (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1974).]. It was a fivefold vision that foretold 1) worldwide economic confusion and unrest, `72 2) a horrible increase of earthquakes, famines and other natural disasters, 3) a flood of filth and pornography, 4) the hatred of youth for parents, and 5) a universal period of harassment, hate and persecution. This last would touch the Church, which would finally devolve into two churches. The one would be a worldly, powerful super-body -- gathering but perverting all the previous forms of faith, seeking only miracles of relevance and reunion. The other would be a remnant of the faithful, largely invisible for want of formal order. These would be Christian in the sense of the New Testament Church -- sober, obedient, enduring persecutions, looking to the coming of the Lord. While Wilkerson does not specifically call his vision one of the final times foretold by Christ, the likeness is all too clear.
Richard Wurmbrand has also written a tract that is of significance here, Was Karl Marx a Satanist? [Richard Wurmbrand, Was Karl Marx a Satanist? (Glendale, Cal., Diana Books).] It is one that Wurmbrand, above all others, may be best qualified to write. In it he tells how the youthful Marx, a devout Christian, was perverted into seeking the death of God and finally the death of man. He gives evidence of Marx's espousal and worship of Satan, and of his preaching of satanist dogma. While the evidence is sketchy enough to require a question mark in the title, Wurmbrand can be trusted as a guide. His fourteen years in Communist prisons and his many writings are an adequate witness to the satanic influence Marxism wields in the world.
A Note on "Congregational" Polity
A faithful remnant must, at times, be a separated remnant, and as such will receive sticks and stones and vilifying names as well. Not the least of these epithets will be "congregationalist." The name will be, in fact, a smoke screen to cover the liberals' own emptying of episcopacy's form of all its real meaning.
Touching the name, however, it may be said that the ultimate mark of validity is that of our intention. Do we intend what Jesus did in the sacraments He gave? That is enough. Do we intend to accept as ours the form of order that He gave? That, too, is enough. Do we intend our priesthood to reflect the tie that Christ was drawing between the tokens of Melchizedek's bread and wine and the reality of His Body and Blood? That also is enough. Whether our relation with a hijacked church be one of internal separation or of outright schism, it will be enough to say that we are separated, and that we wait for God to renew His Church in His own righteous way.
It is evident that our policy will be the reverse of the liberals', who are soft on heresy but hard on schism. We must be hard-nosed indeed in relation to heresy, for the deliberate lie is the root of the evil. And in our separatedness we must be active in maintaining the distinction -- knowing that "dialogue" at this point is the way of compromise and not of conciliation. But we must be entirely passive in waiting upon the Lord. We must not make plans, we must not conspire, we must not even be tempted by the desire to know the way. It is enough to know that the way is God's, and that He will `73 open it to the degree that we put our trust in Him.
This passivity is the one form of self-denial about which we must be most strict. Anglicans have always made good Pelagians. They have been all too prone to the mentality that Babel's tower-builders had when they said, "Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." This is not the mind of a righteous remnant.
What is the mind of such a remnant is to walk in God's Laws and to be obedient to His commandments. If we can do this we shall be more than a righteous remnant. We shall, transformed by His grace, become a tool for the working out of His larger purposes. We shall be a saving remnant -- which is what Christ has always intended His Church to be.
The swarm watched the light leaking through the cracks all the night long. At dawn one Wax-moth came by, fluttering impudently.
"There has been a miscalculation about the New Day, my dears," she began; "one can't expect people to be perfect all at once. That was our mistake."
"No, the mistake was entirely ours," said the Princess." 74
by the Editor of The Living Church
It was nearly a year ago that A House Divided was written and distributed. That was before the 65th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Fr. Harvey was willing to risk being a "fool for Christ's sake" as a prophet of things to come, and if his predictions had proved wrong this little book would by now be deservedly forgotten, except, perhaps, by its author, who would have remembered it for the rest of his life as an object lesson on the unpredictability of the Episcopal Church.
In the final event, however, Fr. Harvey now stands abundantly vindicated as a prophet in the predictive sense. And in the deeper sense of the word he is a prophet of the sort who can put his finger upon the hurts of the People of God and say, "Here thou ailest, and here, and here."
What happened at Minneapolis is now history, but what has resulted from all the forces and factors which brought to pass the terrible internal disruption of the Episcopal Church at that time has created a new and unprecedented crises with which Episcopalians must now deal as best they can.
There are those in this Church who fondly imagine that some things that were done at Minneapolis can be undone. They regard what they call the "anomaly" of women priests and bishops as a possibly only temporary error which can best be rectified by some subsequent General Convention. Such a forlorn hope is best expressed in the title of Thomas Wolfe's novel, You Can't Go Home Again.
Christians, above all people, certainly ought to know that. There is never any going back to where we were. This little book has a "Forward To" rather than a "Back To" thrust and direction. Fr. Harvey calls for radical renewal in the Church. If this means a simple repudiation of the errors of recent years, a beginning anew in some ecclesial body which refuses to be shackled and bound by those errors, so might it be.
The day of the faithful Remnant of the People of God is clearly at hand. If we take seriously the Holy Scriptures in which we learn of the Remnant in God's plan and purpose, we cannot doubt that what is said in the closing chapter of A House Divided is sound counsel to Episcopalians who sense that their vocation is to be the Remnant today -- and tomorrow.
Carroll E. Simcox
|DIOCESE OF SPRINGFIELD
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
621 SOUTH SECOND STREET
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS 62104
THE RIGHT REVEREND ALBERT A. CHAMBERS, S.T.D., D.D. (Retired)
To my fellow Bishops in the Anglican Communion:
I am pleased to send you, in behalf of the Canterbury Guild, a book which the guild brought out just before last year's General Convention at Minneapolis.
A House Divided is perhaps the most important book to have been written for Anglicans in this decade. It is a thoughtful and most sobering analysis of the situation that exists today in the Episcopal Church. It is a "shocker" because it presents the facts of the disruptive forces at work within the church -- on all fronts.
Informed Church people should read this book. It cannot help but convince them of the dreadful, divisive and destructive movements, activities, attitudes and pressures that are everywhere focused on the Church we love.
This is a must reading for all the Bishops and Clergy of the Anglican Communion. I hope -- indeed, I pray -- that it will be widely, carefully and prayerfully read.
With warm good wishes, I am
+ Albert A. Chambers
A HOUSE DIVIDED (Canterbury Guild, $1.95), a picture of developing schism:
Lester Kinsolving, religion columnist, White House correspondent: "A collection of searing vignettes . . . absorbing to any reader who is concerned with what has been happening in the Episcopal Church."
Dorothy A. Faber, editor, The Christian Challenge: "A frank look at our recent past, a clear assessment of our present, and a courageous warning about our future."
Perry Laukhuff, chairman, Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen: "Even for a hardened 'church watcher,' this book is a shocker. All I could think of was 'Rise up, O men of God.'"
Carroll E. Simcox, editor, The Living Church: "'Must' reading for all who are involved in the decisions soon to be made."
THE HOLY SLICE (Canterbury Guild, $1.95), a novel on renewal in the Church:
H. L. Foland, editor, The Anglican Digest: "Entertaining and instructive . . . provides a worthwhile model for today's badly-needed reconciliation within the Church."
Albert J. DuBois, coordinator, Episcopalians United: "It is a penetrating comment on what is going on in our day with, happily, positive suggestions for improving the situation."
James W. Montgomery, the Bishop of Chicago: "I wish there were more prelates like Bishop Roberts."
THE RESTLESS HEART (Eerdmans, $3.95), a study of the crisis in the West:
Russell Kirk, columnist, commentator, author of The Conservative Mind: "Perceptive, illuminating . . . No one has put the matter better."
Edmund A. Opitz, editor, The Freeman, staff, Foundation for Economic Education "A brilliant piece of work. I find a lot of new stuff here . . . key material."
Will Herberg, philosopher, theologian, author of Catholic, Protestant and Jew: "I am deeply impressed with its understanding, scope and style."
COCU Consultation on
ECW Episcopal Churchwomen
GCSP General Convention Special Program
PECUSA Protestant Episcopal Church U.S.A.
UTO United Thank Offering
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any errors in transcription -- Thanks!
Joe Sallenger, Gofer-In-Chief for Church of Our Saviour Anglican Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina