The Episcopalians Strike Back!

It seems that I’ve rustled the feathers of my recent Episcopalian acquaintance. He has responded with something that I think he wishes to present as an argument for excluding my view. Who would have guessed that such inclusive folks could be so exclusive? 

The reply is riddled with the typical left wing clap trap and moralistic superciliousness. But fortunately it gives me an opportunity, to point out another example of exactly what I pointed out previously, namely that what is offered there and being offered nationally by TEC is not Christianity, but something else. If you read the reply, there is no shortage of fallacious material to which to respond. Here he was quite generous and liberal.

The narrative grid in which my opponent places his response is that of fear. The root cause of all evil in the world, and specifically bad theology, you see, is fear. We construct grand systems of “oppression” and “separation” out of “fear.” We then become a mental ostrich loosing all sense, justifying “homophobia” and an army other left wing political bogymen. That might explain why he’s seemingly afraid of my view.

I would have thought that the basis for all bad theology would be to reject what God has revealed and taught. Notice the standard for good theology and bad theology is not what God has revealed but in some parochial disposition. But why take this culture’s disposition at this time as normative? The gloss that is given is also rather self serving and is in fact an idol of my interlocutors’ construction. It seems hard to find anything in what he professes that could point out error or failing in any of the left wing causes he seems to favor. Are left wing ideologies somehow morally perfect and exempt form the thirst for power? I seriously doubt they were immaculately conceived. (It seems I have problems with that notion across the board.) He is simply mirroring and projecting his own preferences, but we need a reason to think that his preferences are the right ones to have.

Appeals to “fear” and other emotional states are either too nebulous or question begging to do any argumentative work. In some cases, fear can be good. It depends on whether the fear is unwarranted or not. So what is the dividing line in that case are the reasons as to whether what is feared is warranted or not and not fear itself.

To gloss my opposition to non-Christian beliefs as rooted in fear is not only an ad hominem but is an exercise in poisoning the well. But suppose my opposition to non-Christian beliefs is rooted in an irrational fear. This doesn’t imply that my position is false. It is entirely possible as a matter of logic to have false premises and a true conclusion. What my interlocutor needs to show is that what I am adhering to is in fact false. Readers will look in vain for any such demonstration.

As for the litany of left wing bogymen such as sexism, classicism, homophobia and racism that my opponent puts forward, they need to be divvyed up. As for racism, I don’t think there is such a thing as race biologically speaking. To think there is, concedes all the ground KKK bigots need and that is ground I am not willing to give up.  Frankly, race is a silly idea in terms of a social construction. This doesn’t mean it can’t have real effects but that says nothing as to whether I should entertain it. This is why I consistently speak in terms of ethnicities as forms of life. (Blame that on Merrill Ring, my undergraduate Wittgenstinian professor.) If my opponent wishes to accuse me of adhering to Christian teaching out of racism, he’ll need to actually demonstrate it. For the record, I am Irish, English, German and Scottish on my Father’s side and Italian on my mother’s side. My wife is Cuban and I go to a Greek Church which has a fair amount of recent immigrants from East Africa. I grew up in large measure in ethnically diverse Orange County, CA. My high school alone was over 40% Asian with about 2,000 students. So please, spare me the race card. It seems instead that my Episcopal interlocutor needs to hold on to these phobias and false views as an excuse not to face the reality that he has embraced an idol of his own making and not Christianity at all.

As for “homophobia” I simply deny that this is an appropriate category and even if it were, I deny that it is applicable to me. I am no more homophobic than I am suffering from a phobia concerning polyamorous persons. Even if it were applicable, it wouldn’t follow that my arguments for thinking such behavior is immoral are false. Furthermore, there is no scientific demonstration that people are genetically “hard wired” to be “gay” or even genetically disposed. There are some studies that show a weak correlation but correlation (strong or weak) doesn’t imply causation. And even if it were so, genetic disposition isn’t necessarily exculpatory. People are still held responsible for their genetically disposed behavior both morally and legally. So this would leave the question of the ethical status of the behavior untouched. One needs to show, and not assume that such behavior as genetically disposed is morally benign. The former doesn’t necessarily entail the latter. And even Queer Theorists argue against homosexuality being genetically disposed. The reason they do so is simple. If it were, this would put the state in a position to genetically screen out homosexuals in the womb (pick your poison-pro-abortion or pro-gay?) or single them out for discrimination. This is why a good number of Queer Theorists designate homosexuality as a preference or orientation. The notion that people are born gay because as far back as far as they can remember amounts to anecdotal evidence at best. Anyone with any significant background in human psychology realizes that there is no good inference here from the age of a belief is thought to have been possessed and its supposed tie to genetics.

He then argues that prejudices against homosexuality crept into the Scriptures. But this is not only undemonstrated, but it is question begging, since we’d need to know that such behavior was moral and sanctioned by God as morally permissible to know that Scripture had been corrupted. How do we know that? Apparently prejudices against having sex with animals “crept” into Scripture too. He is also highly and capriciously selective about what cultural artifacts he approves in the OT. Agrarianism is good and in the OT and therefore moral, but somehow OT sexual morality is out.  Something is wrong when one molds scripture (including its canon) to one’s pre-selected political ideologies. Who said Marcionism is dead?

He argues that even in the “few” places where the OT mentions homosexuality (only supposedly male to male) that it did so for cultural reasons, specifically the social need to reproduce. Of course, this is assumed, and not demonstrated, to be the reason why such views were accepted. We’d need a reason to think that was the reason for its inclusion in the OT. Strangely, this material is found in the NT as well. Second, the frequency of appearance is irrelevant as the same scriptures spend little time prohibiting bestiality or incest. Why I wonder is incest between two consenting adults, brother and sister, mother and son or two brothers or two sisters immoral? Current legal restrictions and moral condemnation can’t be based on the need to reproduce or genetic defects since in the earlier mentioned cases contraceptives and vasectomies work just fine and homosexuals can’t reproduce either. In the latter cases, it is not possible for two brothers or two sisters to reproduce, so why I wonder is it immoral for my opponent? Given that France has already legalized incest it seems TEC is behind the curve. Third, I wasn’t aware that the need to reproduce ceased sometime in the last generation. Every generation is one generation away from extinction. Fourth, even if cultural prejudice was the reason for the prohibition’s inclusion, it doesn’t follow that the prohibition is wrong. Fifth, in terms of sexuality morality, the Hebrews of the OT Law were quite distinct in terms of sexual morality from the surrounding cultures so the argument for cultural dependence ignores the cultural context. As far as prohibiting only male to male relations, this is clearly a mistake. Paul and other non-Christian sources seem quite aware that it applies to women to women relations as well. Such a view not only convicts the Christian church of serious moral error but also Judaism. Here the real face of this line of reasoning surfaces as a subtle form of anti-Semitism. Why is it that liberals never castigate orthodox and conservative Jews as homophobes for holding the same supposedly corrupted immoral views grounded in “fear?” Make no mistake. This is not an argument about distinctly Christian morality, but an older one between Judaism and the pagans.

On the other hand, the practice of sodomy was itself based on a faulty biology, namely that the man contained within himself either entirely the power to reproduce or had fully formed human beings that he merely deposited in women as a host. Hence the Hellenistic attitude that women were simply malformed men. Sodomy then was practiced to make weaker and more effeminate men masculine by injecting them with the power of stronger males. After all, isn’t sex about power for moderns?

Continuing the line of reasoning from the need to reproduce, my Episcopal adversary argues that the prohibition on spilling one’s seed is evidence of such a culturally conditioned source. Of course this is question begging and not a demonstration that the prohibition was in the first place culturally conditioned or derived. Next, the example I believe is the sin of Onan, which was not necessarily coitus interruptus but the refusal to provide an heir in specific circumstances. So this isn’t evidence of the origination of a socially conditioned or derived belief, but of a pre-existing legal norm that one person deviates from following. As for masturbation it isn’t hard to see how it contravenes biblical morality apart from any concern for social survival. Last I checked narcissism wasn’t a biblical virtue.

And of course he just has to bring up the fact that Jesus never brings up homosexuality. Well, of course that’s true. But of course this is fallacious and poor reasoning in so many wonderfully self deluding ways. It is a good example of paralogistic reasoning, where the difference between a paralogism and a sophism is that the latter deceives only the hearer into thinking the reasoning is truth preserving whereas the former deceives the speaker and the hearer. Jesus never mentioned lots of things, including bestiality or incest. Does he wish to argue that TEC should modify its annual blessing of the animals? Second, this is an argument from silence so such a fact could just as easily imply that Jesus disapproved it. At best, the reasoning is idle and proves nothing, in which case it can’t serve to support his case. In fact, anyone who has seen A Man For All Seasons knows that the legal principle is that silence implies consent with a stated norm. Third, Jesus clearly delineates the divine intention for heterosexual relations in the context of marriage as any good Rabbi would. (Matthew 19:5) And if Jesus had held such a view of approving homosexuality and all of his contemporaries were morally wrong, it seems odd that he was never accused of such a thing or never denounced his opponents but I suppose that’s just a point at which Jesus failed to manifest “Spirit.” But who needs Jesus after all?

Then he accuses Paul of contradiction by including women to women sexual behavior which supposedly contradicts Gal 3 where Paul speaks of there not being any male or female in Christ. Huh?!? I am not even sure I can reconstruct what the supposed reasoning is supposed to be here. If we take Gal 3 in the way that he and other liberals wish to, practically everything in the NT is incoherent on the subject of human sexuality. I suspect that is the unspoken intention. It doesn’t take a particularly bright exegete to see that the context is baptism and union with Christ. Baptism into Christ does not eliminate sexual difference but opposition. This is clear from the other examples that Paul gives. The two men, Jew and Greek, master and slave are made one in the body of Christ since they are in union with Christ. This is fully in line with what Paul says about how masters and slaves, Jew and Greek, husbands and wives are to relate. First to the Jew, then to the Gentile, but the Gentiles return the favor. The same kind of reciprocating relationship is in place with masters and slaves and husband and wives. The biblical notion of headship doesn’t imply subordination or inequality since the head of Christ is God the Father, without any opposition or inequality. (1 Cor 11)  The problem with my Episcopal dialog partner is that he imports a dialectical way of understanding the sexes.

But his argument, even if left to stand would prove too much. If this is what Paul meant, then it doesn’t matter what sexual behaviors we engage in, including incest, bestiality or sex with a corpse.

He then tries to use statements from Paul where he differentiates his own judgment from what he received from Christ to argue that such prohibitions are Paul’s opinion. Of course, Paul never says that his views on sexual morality inside of marriage are his opinion. Certainly no other Apostle or church Father thought as much. He then argues that “a man in his cultural context would not have been enlightened about gender and orientation issues.” Well this is question begging since it assumes what needs to be proved. Where exactly is the demonstration that Paul and Jewish morality on this point are wrong? It further assumes distinctions that the Bible does not make and are philosophically questionable, namely the distinction between sex and gender. It is always quite interesting to me that those who harp about how “enlightened” they are on sexuality seem to implicity reject Darwinism at just this point. If Darwinism is true, you are your body and that includes your plumbing. If you think otherwise, then this is a false belief nature has produced in you and nothing more.  So which is it, the “enlightened” view of Darwinism or the “enlightened” view of gender and orientation?

Of course, if the Bible is whittled down to size, apostolic tradition in terms of the judgment of the church isn’t going to fair much better.

“Not to be too crass, but I couldn’t give two shits if Athanasius refused to break bread with me…I’m pretty sure a person named Jesus would.” 

Really? Jesus would break bread with someone who denies him? Last I checked, Jesus wasn’t too hip on those who denied him before men. Apparently Arius did end up giving “two shits” just before he died. (Let the reader understand.)

And of course our Episcopalian opponent here doesn’t fail to fling the race card once again.

“As for the church and the apostolic tradition—it took years for the church to fight the Civil rights battle and the women’s rights movement, and the church was behind the curve of the rest of society.”

This is a highly selective view of the matter and one that betrays gross historical ignorance and parochialism. Last I checked, the church did a fair amount against slavery under the emperors Theodosius and Justinian, eventually practically eradicating it. Slavery had to be reintroduced from non-Christian sources from the Middle East and North Africa. To be fair, the Popes too did a fair amount to curtail it in the west and this extended even into the colonial period of South America. And let me give the Puritans their fair share. The halls of Princeton University have pictures (dare I say icons?) of Native American divines. This attitude was carried through the majority of Northern colonies and then states, which reflected a more biblical outlook rather than the southern Democratic view which was far more indebted to an Aristotelian political viewpoint. In the US, the liberals weren’t the only ones working for the end of segregation. My Episcopalian acquaintance here misidentifies Christians with Southerners of a racist disposition. Plenty of morally conservative Jews had a hand in the Civil Rights movement. Anyone with a college education should know better than to make these kinds of hasty generalizations. Remarks like these betray the worst kind of intellectual snobbery and bigotry, the self assured kind. Besides, even if some Christians were wrong on the Civil Rights issue (they were), it in no way follows that since liberals were right there, that they are right everywhere else. This has all the marks of a slippery slope.

He then argues that of course the same thing is taking place with respect to homosexuality. Well this begs the question. Is homosexuality morally benign or not? If it is, why not incest between two (or more) consenting adults? (There’s nothing magic about the number two, that’s a Christian tradition too that liberals for some reason wish to retain.) He then stumbles into moralistic remarks about God revealing his love for everyone, but somehow I think this fails to include the incestuous. Why? Doesn’t God love brothers who love each other? I mean, who is this person to exclude their love as genuine love, right? Who’s to say that its not real love after all?

And then there is the kicker of the “the 10 percent of folks born gay every year who are that way as God has made them and need not repent of that.”

I don’t think I could have asked for more here. The ten percent myth is derived from Kinsey who also used unrepresentative groups (some possibly from prison inmates). And second, a number of other studies have confirmed that the number of homosexuals in the US is significantly lower, ranging about 2.8-3.8%. If we add in bi-sexuals, transgendered and such we get about 5-6%, 8% tops. And no study to date established a genetic causal basis for homosexuality. Do these people ever read anything they disagree with? Not that they’d have to since the problems with Kinsey’s numbers and the ten percent myth made it into various liberal minded magazines years ago. Who’d have thought that illiteracy was a problem for Episcopalians? What’s next? An argument for “free love” grounded in the work of Margaret Mead?

As for being “born” homosexual, I’ve been “born” heterosexual with a genetic disposition to fornicate as much as possible, so I guess the church should bless that too eh? How can you say “no” to natural selection and why should I be blamed if I can’t? I was conceived that way? What are the four F’s after all but Fighting, Fleeing, Feeding and Reproducing? Why is it that homosexual  behavior based on anecdotal psychological beliefs about the genetic grounding of said behavior, that are not scientifically confirmed, get a moral pass, but my genuine genetic dispositions don’t? Seems rather arbitrary if you ask me.

He then asserts that if we are concerned with the sanctity of marriage we will extend this status to “LGBTQ” folks if they enter into committed relationships. Well, doesn’t this depend on the definition of “sanctity?” (Lewis’ Screwtape comes to mind here on defining terms.) Curiously he leaves out the polygamous and the incestuous. Why not approve of those too? And why limit it to “committed” relatonships?

It always amazes me that people on the other side can’t seem to imagine any plausible reasons for denying marriage to “LGBTQ.” Here are some. To those who provide the benefits, go the benefits. Heterosexuals provide something that homosexuals can’t without circumventing nature in extraordinary costly ways and certainly not in significant numbers. Heterosexual marriage provides future taxpayers, soldiers and citizens. A heterosexual couple in marriage can provide and model behavior for children in ways that neither homosexuals nor opposite sex surrogates can. 

Here are some more. The state does not define marriage. The state recognizes marriage that gave rise to the state and upon which the state depends. (Not everything in the polis is a matter of law.) Marriage pre-exists the state as a natural phenomenon (homosexual or incestuous marriage doesn’t.) The state is founded from families coming together in a partnership and so the relation is asymmetrical. Marriage is not a legal right as such since the state never granted it. Consequently, if the state were to define marriage it would be a power grab by the state. The state is making an implicit claim to autonomy and absolute power. Somehow, this fact of a totalizing state as a threat and as intrinsically immoral oppressive structure never seems to dawn on Episcopalians. Have they never read Augustine’s, The City of God? Here is another. When marriage is extended to homosexuals, the rate of heterosexual marriage declines and the rate of cohabitation increases and with that increase comes the increase of children raised in single parent homes and that is bad for the raising of children. The single leading contributing factor to poverty in the US is divorce and/or children conceived out of wedlock. But gee, that wouldn’t have any bearing on the plight of ethnic minorities on the lower end of the economic scale. Ya think?

Here are some more. The legalization of such “marriages” provides a principled basis to legalize polygamy and just about any form of marriage between any number of people or humans and non-humans. Eventually the definitional bubble will burst and marriage will be disestablished entirely, thereby eradicating any social distinction based on sexual behavior or association. For about three and half million years humans have had some form of marriage between men and women as a basis for human society and law. If one is to alter it in significant ways, one had better have a good idea what the consequences are for such a change. Homosexual “marriage” is the “Jurassic Park” of modernity. Nature is going to find a way to bite your arrogance in the ass. There is no such thing as a natureless person. Somehow the idea that such behavior could have significant negative social or economic consequences never seems to dawn on these people. It has dawned on the Germans. These arguments aren’t hard to come up with. I am not even trying. I am doing these off my head and I am not that smart either. Word has it that there’s some hick at some po-dunk school on the east coast who has other arguments too.

He chastises me for thinking on philosophical grounds that feminism is false and then proposes the idiotic definition of feminism as ““feminism is the radical idea that women are people and deserve rights.” If that’s feminism, then every single non-Borgia Pope has been a feminist as well as every medieval western monarch for the last fifteen centuries. I’ve read my fair share of Cixous, Irigaray, and MacKinnon thank you very much and feminism is something more than the slogan proffered. Besides, that’s an awfully anemic definition of feminism and I think too much of feminist philosophers to paste them with such simplistic slogans.

Then we come to the typical, “don’t put my faith in a box” speech.

“I we look at any religious text we can find good and bad, peace and war. All religious texts are influenced by the human hands that help produce them. We can try to fit our own faith into a box that lines up “correctly” with every doctrine, creed, formula and council that any governing religious body in power deems “official” or “orthodox.”

The fact that every religious text has human elements is neither here nor there. It doesn’t imply the truth or falsity of any given text. Nor does it imply that all religious texts come out the same when their truth claims are weighed. The inclusion of human elements doesn’t imply the lack of divine inspiration. What you see at work here is an implicit and hidden Christology in back of this theory of inspiration. On such a view, religious texts are “inspired” like Hallmark cards and so are only human productions. Since inspiration is a function of how the divine and human relate, this view presupposes an adoptionistic Christology from the get go. It is no accident then that the Church condemned these kinds of views of inspiration and methodologies since they presuppose a false Christology. (2nd Constantinople)

The easier problems to see with this statement is that is presupposes that the church that Jesus established and sustains is purely a human institution.

Then there is the final retreat to nebulous moralism with talk of the Bible’s emphasis on “Justice.” It is really quite annoying to someone who has taught ethical theory to hear people talk of “justice” when they can’t seem to define the term in any meaningful way, use it according to any recognized normative ethical theory, but rather employ it as a club to brow beat people that they look down on. It’s a code word for their particular form of self righteousness. And without fail we get the Gnosticizing Pelagianism, that if we just work that much harder, there’s a new world just around the corner. That kind of thinking has justified piles of dead bodies in the last century.

“A consistent thread that runs through all of Jewish and Christian scripture is one of Righteous Justice and care for the stranger. This culminates for Christians in working to establish Jesus’ Kingdom of God, a new system of living that lets all at the table, that seeks peace, mercy, justice and compassion, that seeks to let the last be first and restores this world to a better and fairer system, now and later.”

Do these people watch films at all? “ What a fool I’ve been Vassilli. There is no ‘new man.’ Man will always be man.” Or in the words of Jesus, “The poor you will always have with you.” I’m no enemy of the poor, but God doesn’t show favoritism to the poor at the expense of justice. (Ex 23:3) Again, a little Augustine’s, City of God here goes a long way. This world will always be mixed, including the church this side of the Last Judgment. This is why membership in the church, the kingdom of God does not entail membership in the City of God (final salvation). If one thinks that one can make the world perfect by “establishing Jesus kingdom” you are going to end up with a big stack of dead bodies (or lots of illicit sex) because every person is a means to an end. I much prefer Kant’s Kingdom of Ends to Marxist Gnosticism in sanctimonious Christian dress. And last I checked, Jesus establishes his own kingdom because Jesus is the king. This is why he states that his kingdom is not of this world. He doesn’t deny that it is in it, but that it doesn’t have its source in this world. Consequently, if Episcopalians think they can “establish” Jesus’ kingdom of God by their social work they are sadly mistaken and will only become he unwitting tools of secular totalizing ideologies to establish a moralistic massacre, much the same way that state churches in Europe did prior to WW2.

Furthermore, it is not possible to generalize this concern for “justice” and the “poor” to all religions since there is no common notion of what constitutes religion in the first place.

It is also doubtful that it is true of all religions. It certainly doesn’t seem to be true in Islam. Thirdly, even if it were so, it wouldn’t imply the idea is true. Noting the scope of a belief doesn’t imply its truth. My opponent here is a metaphysical squatter that I am philosophically evicting. He is thinking that he can have all the philosophical benefits of a Christian metaphysic without a commitment to it. He is going to have to bear his own metaphysical burden here and justify his belief in a deity and then how this grounds his ethical theory. Fourthly, there’s no reason why a secularist couldn’t affirm the kinds of nebulous moral sentiments here.

But just when you thought all was lost, my Episcopalian opponent appeals to tradition!

“Opponents of this “liberal” style Christianity argue that it’s new and doesn’t belong under the same umbrella as “their” Christianity.” Well, it’s not NEW. It is found in American theology way back in the Social Gospel movement of the 1920s and I argue that it goes back to the teachings of the historical Jesus, and back before that to the heart of the Torah and present in so many other places as well.”

Doesn’t this assume that it is a species of Christianity in the first place? And wow! The 1920’s you say? And…uh… that’s old? The Social Gospel movement puttered out my friend. And besides, it was the left over carcass of Puritanical Postmillenialism with a good dose of American Manifest Destiny thrown in for good measure. It was never a movement of its own. It was the last gasp of Postmillenial eschatology before the Great Depression and WW2 killed it off until the end of the century.

As for what the historical Jesus taught, we’d need a reason to think on independent grounds that what the historical Jesus taught was true. Why think that? Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of the left wing scholars he’d appeal to do not think we can know what the historical Jesus taught or did with any degree of certainty. This is reflected in the shift from liberals in historical Jesus studies who think we can know what the historical Jesus thought himself, to radicals, who think we can know what the early church thought Jesus taught.  Consequently, his own scholarship cuts him off from the historical Jesus.  He’ll have to appeal to more conservative scholars for arguments getting you back to the teachings of the historical Jesus.

And let me just cut to the chase, the division between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith is just redressed Nestorianism in the clothes of the Enlightenment Whore. There is no theory neutral analysis of history to be had, so there can be no legitimate division between those two. Every historical Jesus portrait is a Christ of faith, just different faiths. Every fact is analyzed in the context of a presupposed worldview and so the question is, how does one figure out which worldview is the right one by which to interpret the historical facts? I don’t think Episcopalians are really prepared to answer this question.

And ah, more about boxes.

“My faith doesn’t have to fit in a box. My faith doesn’t have to be a checklist in which I can prove I’m correctly following all of the teachings that trace through the doctrines voted by the powerful in Christianity as “right.” Since those that often won debates and votes in Christian councils were politically powerful and ruthless, I wonder if had Jesus been alive and involved at this point if his own words would be voted as “right” since he was neither ruthless or politically powerful.”

His professed faith couldn’t fit in a box since it would have to be something definite. This is the problem with aesthetes. They cannot commit absolutely to anything particular. The liberal Episcopal deity is the God that is everywhere in general but no where in particular. It is a deity of no commitments which is why it fosters a religion of moral leveling and ethical equivalence. Saints must be brought down by exposing some secret sin and sodomites must be brought up as true moral paragons. This is to teach us  that there really is no good or evil, just pleasure.

“It strikes many fearful Christians as dangerous to step forward or claim any other modern inclusivity in their faith.  My faith lives in 2010; I am at a point in history where we have been through the Enlightenment and full exposure to all of the myriad faiths of the world.”

Not only is this an ad hominem but specious in other ways. Perhaps Christians are concerned with truth and exchanging the truth for something false. The unexamined life is not worth living, because the unexamined life will be a life likely based on false beliefs. And these false beliefs will end up being harmful to you and not to your benefit. This is why we must examine our beliefs.

As for his faith living in 2010, I wasn’t aware that mine didn’t. Not only is this chronological snobbery mixed with a good amount of self righteousness, but it ignores the fact that the cultural fads that he embraces will fade and be passed by and so either his faith is perpetually in flux or it is an artifact of a specific time and place, a prime example of white upper class elitist parochialism. It has been rightly said, that we are never so influenced and shaped by our time and culture as when we think that we’re not.

As for the Enlightement, last I checked that project wasn’t going too well. The attempt to ground all knowledge in human reason or experience alone seems to be foundering. And the mention of a full exposure to different beliefs is really quite lame. If this is supposed to imply that no particular belief can be true, then this falsifies his own view. And it doesn’t seem as if the adherents of any other major world religion are giving up their claims to truth and exclusivity. Perhaps the Episcopalians should start traveling the world on an itinerant basis informing all the adherents of their gross ignorance. My recommendation is that they start in Saudi Arabia. Again, there is really no argument here, just more sloganeering and noxious superciliousness.

And don’t forget about the “assured results of higher criticism!”

 “Archaeology, Biblical Criticism, and Academic work have shed new light on all sorts of ways of looking at ancient holy words and incorporating them freshly in our time.  I have to either close my eyes and mind to much of this and keep my faith in that box to stay fully with every medieval Christian view. Or, I can open both. Is my God a God of Love? Of Justice? Of Truth and Knowledge? Yes, Yes, and Yes. So why not use that knowledge, use that love, and work for that Justice consistently? If my faith was about nothing but “right” belief, then nothing would ever get done. My type of faith insists good work be done and that love be shown. To argue against that is preposterous. I cannot envision a true God that would not want us to act on the side of Love, Peace, and Righteous Justice.”

As if the academic world was monolithic. There are plenty of conservative and moderate scholars who disagree with the kinds of judgments expressed here. Apparently he hasn’t read outside of the liberal box. But this is, and has been for some time, to the advantage of Christian scholars. By ignoring and failing to interact with scholars on the other side of the fence, they have left their position seriously underdefended and relied on the walls around the ivory tower of academic admissions to keep differing views out. What they have done is just produce more savvy and battle hardened biblical scholars who disagree and get published. Academics on the left have begun to pay the academic price for their sloth. The Markian Priority hypothesis is facing serious problems for example.

He asserts that it is preposterous to argue against the slogans of justice, love and such. But let’s take some Nietzsche and Darwin out for a test drive.  Following the former, its hard to see how the idol that Episcopalians have created wasn’t created based on their need. They needed a view of the world that gave them comfort, respectability and approval and so they fashioned an idol for themselves. The emphasis on universal justice, love and such are just God substitutes. If God is genuinely dead, then these are just God substitutes. And by the death of God, I do not mean that an eternally existing being ceased to exist, but that that idea and all of its attending philosophical benefits is no longer capable of being held. If this person really wishes to reject Christianity, then he needs to face reality and stop playing “let’s pretend” game of modernity with his God substitutes of universal qualities that he mysteriously taps into.  In Postmodern terms, its just another “skyhook.”

And now for some Darwin for good measure. If Darwin’s Naturalistic Evolutionary theory is correct, then nature disposes us to believe all kinds of things, irrespective of truth value. It may be that we enjoy some of these beliefs and their consequences over others, but nature has disposed us to do so, again, irrespective of truth value. There is then no privileged position from which to evaluate the belief that occurs in another organism since nature produces false beliefs and true beliefs across the board without a goal. Nature is not intentional. It is a world without design.  In other words, nature doesn’t give a damn about truth. So it may be the case that we value “love”, “justice” and survival but it doesn’t follow that we ought to do so or that these are the right things to value. The behavior and belief that there are valued and seen as true don’t imply that there are such things as truth and value. Why then on this “Enlightenment” basis should I give any credence to the “faith” of modern Episcopalians? The problem here is that they haven’t taken their skepticism far enough to see really what it is going to cost them-everything. Read the label carefully before you buy.

There are other obvious problems with the above remarks, namely a false dichotomy. It isn’t either ignore new information or go back to the medieval era. If he thinks this is so, he needs to present an actual argument for it. What he needs to show is that what he is left with is distinctly Christian at all. If he thinks that modernity entails the rejection of core Christian commitments, then why call what is left over Christianity? This question has been conspicuously unaddressed. Episcopalians just assume that the remnants are legitimately called such. Its just another idol.


  1. It would be nice of all those who so desire “Social Justice” could explain how Matthew 25 is fulfilled simply by enacting laws that conficscate the fruit of ones labor in order to distribute it to those they deem as worthy.

    Well, Lord, I never actually went into the ghettos, not really safe ya know, but I did vote for those who promised to end poverty.

    I wonder, in Florida, how many Episcopalians attended the Obama fund raiser that was 35K per couple. There were no homeless shelters that could have used that 35K? No community health clinics that could have used a 35K donation?

    On thing progressives (I refuse to call them liberal, noting liberal about them) have demonstrated over and over is that they are all for helping the poor, provided…

    1. They don’t have to actually get their hands dirty.

    2. It’s someone else’s money.

  2. I remember as if it were yesterday, sitting in my “Anglican theology” class at an Episcopal seminary in a major metropolitan area, a class by the way taught by a newly-minted PhD self-described lesbian, “discussing” (more correctly propagandizing on) abortion. One morally superior woman opined how she could never in her life tell the sexually abused teen, impregnated by her father (it’s always one of these statistically insignificant exceptions) that she shouldn’t have an abortion. I replied, a little too genteel which i now regret, how *dare* she impose her moral code on that poor suffering girl. Perhaps that girl *needed* to carry that baby to term, for hers and the baby’s salvation, and here this insufferably self-righteous prig of a woman dare to interfere with what God might be doing in that young life to redeem her tragedy by choosing life for her baby.

    At the break over coffee, the moral policewoman asked me snarkily how soon it would be before I’d be leaving the Episcopal church (mind you, I was in process of discerning a vocation to the priesthood in said denomination at the time), since *obviously* the Episcopal church had no place for a person like myself.

    I can’t tell you the warm fuzzies I felt over such inclusive hospitality.

  3. Perry,
    I followed the link to the “response.” I could not get through it. It was that bad. All I can say is that you must be terribly bored to respond to that sort of drivel. As a general rule of thumb I operate on the premise that to debate someone on any given topic there must first be established some minimal level of commonality. There is none here.

    You are correct. The man is not a Christian in any recognizable sense. Did you read his “Creed” in the most recent post on that blog? It was enough to provoke me to taking the Lord’s name in vain coupled with some other language I picked up in the Navy. I believe you have just managed to expose me to what is quite possibly the worst religious (if you can call it that) blog I have ever seen. After my prayers tonight, I think I am going to need a stiff drink before bed.

    Under the mercy,

    P.S. This is why I believe we MUST end the policy of accepting Episcopal baptisms as “close enough” among converts. We just don’t know who believes what in that organization. Is there anyway someone like him could possibly perform a baptism that could be made “whole” through Chrismation?

  4. As always ACOLYTE, your arrogance diminishes the Orthodox Church. Your self-indulgence towards verbosity reveals how fragile and phobic you are; to build high and wide and deep defenses for yourself is quite pathetic. But you’ve always been that way, eh, Perry? Your theology is far from Orthodox, and borderlines Gnostism rather than Christianity. Just because YOU don’t believe in racism, homophobia, and other topics that panic you, doesn’t discredit their validity in the real world where reason walks with faith. Your words: “As for racism, I don’t think …” Trye, Acolyte, you don’t think. You react. You attack. You huff and puff and blow smoke up your own flu. Alas, judgmental Pharisees as yourself huddle together in packs of trepidation. How sad you are to live in fear of everything, and to condemn all but your own self and blog, best known to many of us as “Impotent Regression.” As least you provide entertainment. How amusing to see you use yourself as the measure of all things (and of God), “I deny that it is applicable to me …” What a safe way out of any type of responsible foresight and an excuse from authentic social accountability as an equal. Equality. The word must make you sweat and lose bowel control.

  5. I tremble in awe and am blinded by the irrefutable brilliance of Veronica’s well reasoned response. Clearly there is nothing left to debate.

  6. Thank goodness, and thank you! At least Ad Nauseam understands the irrefutable brilliance of the Holy Trinity! Debate never started here; debate can only happen between equal parties willing to repent. Maybe, Ad Nauseam, you were blindsided by the unilateral neocon diatribes of Acolyte’s fits of apoplectic rage? And that trembling you’re sensing isn’t awe … it’s your conscience revolting against metanoia, the tremors of prelest.

  7. Give Veronica some credit. She hasn’t yet resorted to Reductio ad Hitlerum argument that is copyrighted by her and her ilk, but I am sure it can’t be far off.

  8. Thanks, Perry. This was a very helpful response on biblical sexual morality. And the Arius reference was hilarious, particularly since I had read Ad Serapion last night!

  9. Um, is it me, or did Veronica pretty much put herself (is she a she? one can never tell online) on par with the Holy Trinity?

    Dadgum. In all my time in the Episcopalian religion I never once met anyone who claimed that.

    That said, Veronica does suffer the widespread Episcopalian malady of irony-anemia.

  10. Veronica,

    I have no idea who you are and I don’t think you know me, but your comments do not engage anything I wrote. In fact it is a short paragraph of insults and bald assertions. I expect people who disagree with the arguments that I put forward to engage them with arguments. The same goes for your comments to Ad Orientem. If you can’t make an argument, refrain from insults and discuss things in a civil manner, I will just delete your remarks and then ban you if they are bad enough. This is your only warning.

    Let me pick out the few things you wrote that come close to being reasonable expressions. As for racism, I never denied that false ideas can be acted upon. In fact in this post I affirmed such was the case and that that particular false idea can have significant effects. I find that not to be a good reason to think it is true. I find it far more advantageous to simply deny the racist premise that race is biologically grounded and cut the whole bottom out from underneath racism. It is like a cat show. Cats with short hair, long hair, different colors, some with tails, some without, but they are all cats. Race along with species is a folk notion. There never was such a thing as racial differences, just different ways to dance and different tribes.

  11. Wow! This was an excellent read! Veronica, your “social accountability” stuff scares me because it reminds me of the communist re-education camps, in where those who disagreed with the establishment disappeared to do slave labor…..for the establishment.

    Christ is Risen!

  12. Ad Orientem,

    No, I was not bored, but I thought it was something that needed to be said. Certainly, this person needs to be confronted to think through the issues for his own benefit. I grant that I may not be doing it well in every way, but I am sinner. Big suprise! I am open to criticism. I must confess that I find the unthinking beliefs and slogans of liberals as nausiating as popular evangelicalism. They get my Irish up.

    As regular readers know, I rotate my targets to make sure I am an equal opportunity offender-Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Evangelicals…I must confess that I had been derelict in leaving out Episcopalians. This seemed to give the impression to some readers I spoke to a year or so ago in person that I wasn’t thinking about Episcopalians converting to Orthodoxy and that I needed to discuss the topic. I had done so with “Anglicans in Exile” but not much since. I had been thinking of doing something for a while, but the random blog entry gave me an opportunity.

    That said, I just don’t obsess about the every day evils of “815” (Let watchers of Lost take note!) I am not Anglican anymore. Anglicanism in both thought and nearly now practice is something alien to me, as Lutheranism is. This does not mean that historically everything in it was bad-far from it. I still love English culture. But I was reminded of this when I was back home and visited a WR parish. The parish was great and Orthodox, but the 28 BCP seemed a bit “weird” to me. I knew it like the back of my hand, but in a sense I no longer knew it. I am sure that doesn’t make sense, but phenomenologically, it did and does. When I was received into the Church, the parish I was at were mostly Cyrpiot refugees or at least a good portion of the parish was. They were ethnically “thicker” than the Greeks in St. Louis, but tended to be unconcerned with being Greek and more concerned with being Orthodox. This was so, almost to the point of being superstitious in some cases. It was like time travel. In any case, I was “baptized” into the Liturgy of Chrysostom in the Greek of the little “Green” book hymnal. It was easy to follow and the tunes were simple yet sublime, having echoes of anoher world. The near universal Greek was a tad frustrating and alienating, but since I could learn the tunes and follow the Liturgy, I could “own” it. I know the Sanctus, but Agios ho Theos is more “familiar” to me, if you get my drift.

  13. This is a remarkable piece. All of it is so well-written and well-reasoned.

    The only comments I would add are:
    1) The notion of justice (in Islam) as including care for the poor is embodied in the duty of “zakat” (poor-rate), which is one of the five pillars of Islamic religious practice. It has even been argued by some that the Umayyad Caliphate in the 7-8th centuries A.D. was the first instance of a welfare state. Whether this duty has actually alleviated poverty in the Islamic world is, of course, another issue, as is the fact that Western countries seem to have done a much better job of it anyway.

    2) Regarding the distinction between marriage and the state, I think historically it is very much the case that the former precedes the latter. But does it do so logically or ontologically? It seems to me that in a supposed “stateless” society (e.g., desert nomads or whatnot), a contracted marriage would still need to be associated with some recognized custom/norm of legitimacy, e.g., witnesses or some officiating tribal leader. In terms of authority, then, it seems to me that the state is simply coextensive with whatever a given society is at the time. If it consists of one family, then that one family is the state, and someone in that family has the power of life and death over its members. If it is a group of families, then that group constitutes the state, and so on. So the family, society, and the state are distinct, yet coextensive. In my mind, the civil nature of marriage has little to do with marriage as a sacrament, since non-sacramental marriages are still marriages. The state may not define what marriage is, but it still seems to me that a legitimate ruling body has the authority to determine who is married and who is not, according to a definition they do not have the authority to change. I’m not sure if this disagrees in any significant way with what you were trying to say, and I look forward to any clarifications you may provide.

    As for the rest, I think this is terrific stuff. It seems to me that the more education people acquire these days, the lesser ability they have to argue correctly. Of course, that could be a result of the fact that formal logic is not a required course in our public secondary or post-secondary educational establishment. Most people these days put forth arguments that are really just fist-slamming assertions, and have no idea what presuppositions these assertions entail. I read the article you are responding to, it is one of the most embarrassingly poor examples of (ir)rational argument I’ve seen in a long while. But I guess all my logic is culturally conditioned, too. These people just don’t seem to realize (or don’t care) that their own worldviews are just as culturally conditioned as those they’re criticizing, which makes debating them very frustrating.

  14. Perry:

    I was never so immersed in Anglican prayerbook liturgy as you, and even so, my immersion would have been in the lamentable 79 Book of “Common” “Prayer.” That said, like you, I have had occasion to return to old “prayer haunts” and after years in Byzantine liturgies, it just feels weird. On the other hand, I have stepped in to other parishes (Greek, Russian, Antiochian) of the Byzantine sort and though particular “traditions” might leave me feeling a little out of place here or there, once the liturgy is underway, I’m home as it were.

    I’m not sure why I did not feel this way in Anglican liturgies. I don’t think the simple response of the plethora of alternative services quite gets at it, though I’m sure that effect was part of it. I’m not even sure that the congregational ethos of Episcopalianism is the answer, because sometimes Orthodox parishes feel pretty darn congregationalist at times.

    It is what it is phenomenologically. I’m not sure I have an adequate analysis of why it is what it is.

  15. Drew,

    1. A welfare state for whom? Muslims or non-Muslims too?

    2. I agree that marriages in the stateless situation entail a norm, but this only helps, since it shows not all norms are norms established by law, something our society has lost sight of. This is why Plato in the Replublic warns of the Hydra of thinking that passing a law against something is sufficient. You chop one head off and two more grow back. If law is the only means to sanction behavior, society is going into the crapper.

    Second, your notion of a state seems to equivocate or use the term in a much wider sense, apart from its modern conception. Its not something I think say Rawls would admit to.

    Determining who is married and who is not is one thing. Determining the limits of marriage is another. The former assumes something already established in the latter.

    Most “education” today takes memorization and skill acquisition to amount to education. I don’t have some grandiose idea that we can make everyone philosophical. I am with Plato on that score. The majority will never be philosophical. I am not interested so much as being a man of the people as a man for the people, for their good.

  16. I generally hate it when people comment on a comment but I can’t help myself. Veronica has actually undermined her own argument against the post by reverting to the logical fallacies of ad hominem and the emotional appeal. There is nothing in the comment that treats on the post as such and so according to the most basic and civil forms of argumentation, her comments on this post ought to be ignored unless there is a subsequent post that is an actual engagement with the ideas posited in the post.

    A note about the fallacies. The ad hominem is obvious and takes a couple different paths. However, I would like to point out a trend that I have noticed in debating people who cannot make anything other than emotive or ad hominem “arguments.” It is a recent phenomenon (I don’t know its origin) of make the statement “you must be a sad person” or “I am sad that you …” or some form of this “sad statement.” It is a very interesting insight into the person who uses such an argument. It is effectively false pity supported by an underlying intellectual hubris that is itself unwarranted. It is, in effect, an inversion of charity, and frankly, quite frightening.

    This all reminds me however, of the argument of Alasdair Macintyre in his book “After Virtue” where he suggests that most arguments for and against things in the post-modern world and at their foundation emotional appeals. It would be a good thing to examine our own works and rarify them so that we, who try to be logically consistent, don’t fall into that same error.

  17. Wow, this was a great read and one of your best posts. It seems that you gave up on Postmillenialism and Theonomy somewhere and i missed when…is this true?

    As for the gay issue, recent studies have confirmed that sexual orientation is determined not by genes but by the hormonal soup in the womb. if the fetus receives the wrong amount of each sex hormone while in utero, their brain develops as to the opposite sex with physical changes that lead to later “preferences” and such. So yes, gays are born that way but no, it’s not genetic. Not a moral argument, just science.

  18. MEgan,

    If the study you are thinking of is the one I am thinking it doesn’t show a “determined” outcome or a causal link. At most that study claimed a correlation.

    Fetus is Latin for baby.

    third, even if it did show a causal relation, it just moves the issue since now we need a reason to think that supposed natural disposition is morally benign. Similar studies show such correlation with psychopathic dispositions, but that is not morally benign.

  19. Megan,

    My eschatology has a Postmillenial flavor. I don’t think Theonomy is compatible with Protestantism. There’s going to be an actual supreme court deciding what Scripture means as a matter of law. That isn’t going to go too well with Sola Scriptura and Private Judgment. Some Hooker, Augustine and some Orthodox Fathers gave me other reasons for thinking key parts of Theonomy might not be as exegetically well founded as its proponents thought.

  20. Perry,

    It was not long ago that I fell into a discussion with that mutual aquaintance of ours, he who must not be named. I simply noted that, some among the far right-wingers appear to harbor racist notions and that a handful at least have employed the rhetoric of bigotry. In response said acquaintance deduced what he assumed to be the intent of my comment, that there are no racial differences; he countered that there were racial differences and, therefore, my charge of racism was vacuous, with the assumption that the status of races is due to their “differences.” If I had my wits about me at the time I would have taken your line that race is a social construction and there are only ethnicities, but at any rate he seemed to conflate the two and made it clear to me that “some races produce better civilizations than others.” When I put a few hard questions to he who will not be named, I was called a retard and a homosexual.

    This post has been helpful for me to sort out my own thoughts on these diverse subjects, and I see it as less of an attack on the liberal spectrum of the Episcopalian Church – the conservative end of the EC wanes with each moment, eh? – so much as a polemic useful to rebuff the political ideology of progressvism in general. Many of these ideas are taken for granted and to deny them, or to express a counter-view, even one with philosophical sophistication, almost always results in the knee-jerk reactions that conservatives are *supposed* to be infamous for, or are at least accused of by their progressive interlocutors. One “free-thinker,” a friend of mine, a feminist and I had a discussion on the topic of abortion. I could not even get her to grasp the point that our presuppositions were just… different. She approached it from the standpoint of privacy rights and rights to property (as if the mother owns the life inside her) and did not at all question her assumptions about the development of human life, consciousness, and so forth. I told her it begs the question, it assumes the correctness of her own view. For if my view is right, privacy rights be damned, you support child-murder. To tell her that infanticide must assume a person is reducible to their physical body was a bit hard for her even to comprehend. No. Of course everyone who is pro-life just does not want the woman to have any legal rights.

    The simplest explanation, I believe, is the one which you have provided (and which seems to be discussed in some of the literature you cross-reference) – that modernism tends to conform truth to desire rather than desire to truth. This is evident once one takes off the cracked rose-colored glasses of modernism and all its attendant philosophical presuppositions and implications, to observe that much of what passes for science, religion, news, political discourse, and education in general has been shaped by an entertainment media which, because of its ubiquity, has raised our expectations that all these subjects which are appropriate for serious discourse must entertain rather than just educate and inform. It is one distraction after another which climaxes in incoherence and irrelevance. But this, while it further shapes the culture, has its roots in just what you discuss here. It is no coincidence that with naturalism, modernism, and secularism on the rise that the culture should opt either for crass pluralism on the secular end or a mobeous free-for-all God who never condemns anyone on the religious end.

  21. Vis-a-vis the welfare state, it was for Muslims since only Muslims pay the zakat. So it was a limited welfare state, but a welfare state nonetheless. In any case I was only pointing it out…not trying to make any grandiose claims about Islam. This setup actually created a big tax problem for the early Caliphate, such that Arabs and non-Arabs had to be taxed at different rates in order to keep the treasury from going bankrupt. It caused a lot of tension, and it allowed the Caliphate to benefit from the fact that it took the majority of the population nearly three centuries to convert from Christianity. A lot of people don’t realize that though the political conquest of Islam was quite rapid, the religious conversion rate was quite meager for quite a long time, especially among non-Arabs. See Hitti’s “History of the Arabs” for a more detailed discussion.

    I guess my question about marriage is, who determines its meaning originally? I can imagine a “last two people on earth” scenario, for example. Would such a union be adulterous?

    I hope my question makes sense. Thanks again for posting this.

  22. Dave,

    It seems to me that the pro-abortion position boils down to the idea that one human being (notice I didn’t say person) can own another human being. I think its best to call pro-aborts out on this principle and ask for justification. If memory serves, we had a war in the US at least in significant part about that issue. Not to get too political, which I try not to do here, but it was a great irony last election cycle in the US that we had a candidate who was of African descent, in part, who advocated that one human being can own another as a piece of property, primarily due to location and a dependency relation.

  23. Drew,

    Quite true. The Muslims not only needed the upper classes to run the cities they conquered,b ut they also needed a substantial tax base that the jizya provided.It wasn’t in their interest to convert everyone at once.

    As for a welfare state, I think Plato’s got dibs on that.

    As for your marriage question goes, thats an excellent question. Here’s what I can gesture at as something like an answer. Natural states don’t start out with definitions. They just are or just happen or they get planned. I think God planned marriage, but that doesn’t mean that there was a definition of it floating around in the heads of people who were married. The definition I’d say was more or less the practice at a very early point. If marriage is a natural right, its legitimacy doesn’t flow from its definition but rather from its existence.

  24. Regarding marriage, my opinion is that it is, apart from its mystical meaning in the Church, a public declaration of a mating couple, excuse the coarse expression.

    The mating couple is a natural thing and it seems to have become a common human understanding that such a couple is “one flesh” and so neither is “free” to mate with others, in line with Genesis 2:24, and develops a set of relationships with others, such as leaving father and mother and establishing a new home.

    Marriage hence comes from the natural relationship formed with mating couples but being a public declaration of a mating couple, it can be defined and legitimised by public consensus because a marriage in not only the coming together of a mating couple but such a coming together that is recognised publicly because it generates a set of public relationships. Thus, it can be considered illegitimate to engage is mating activities unless you declare that you are a mating couple publicly, so that everyone is aware of your relationship as a mating couple united as one flesh. Nevertheless, while it it important for a mating relationship to be recognised by the public and to an extent ruled by the public, marriage is not simply a product of public law but something that is about the natural bond of a mating couple. The public cannot define marriage as something that includes relationships that are not mating couples united as “one flesh”.

    Regarding the last two people scenario, this would be marriage because they are the entirety of the public to recognise the mating couple, assuming both consent to be a mating couple, otherwise it could be rape.

  25. Br. Gabriel, OP’s comment on May 6, 7:26pm was superb. Thanks for sharing your observation. I think you nailed it. It is a “false pity” and I’m glad that you identified it and calling it out.

  26. I appreciate a good thoughtful discussion, and you certain are well capable of expressing yourself. You clearly are a very intelligent person. I must admit, though, I got a little lost when you wrote that masturbation was narcissism. My one concern: what is a better use of your time–to write a long, drawn-out diatribe about why other people are wrong or to act out BOTH of God’s commandments–to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and your neighbor as yourself? I can understand annoyance at having to listen to someone else’s views that don’t make logical sense to you, but sometimes your comments border on hatred. I’m sure all of you will go ahead and make snide remarks about my comment, and I’m very sad about that because I’m just starting to try and figure out what Orthodox, Anglican and Episcopalian means, and if you guys are representing Orthodox, I would walk away very fast. I’ve had enough of people trying to make me and others feel unworthy of their presence and companionship in a religious setting.

  27. episcopalianwoman:

    Perry will answer for himself, but let me state that if your first response is to equate masturbation with love of neighber (admittedly your syntax is a bit unclear), then regardless of what Perry rights, you will find Orthodoxy wholly uncongenial to such a viewpoint. You may well want to walk away very fast.

    On the other hand, if I may express a bit of exasperation at what I have found to be typical of many members of the Episcopal church: the all-too-easy slander of hatred in the face of reasoned argument. Then there’s the moral posturing that such hatred doesn’t deserve a response. And yet ironically enough, in the face of such lack of desert, still the above posts attracts such ad hominems and red herrings like flies to dung. (Careful in agreeing with the metaphor!)

    No, because it’s easy and takes no work at all, Perry is accused of bigotry, misogony, hatred, and cheating on his taxes. All without proof of course, and without any demonstration of rational argument. Perry, however much it is a waste of time, rationally engages such slander to illustrate its lack of rationality. And this of course invites yet more of those dung-loving flies.

    I am confident Perry would want you to look into Orthodoxy and seriously consider its claims and participate in its worship. So would I.

    But let me offer this clear warning: Orthodoxy does not change for anyone. If you want to embrace Orthodoxy, you will ultimately do so on Orthodoxy’s terms, not on those of the Episcopal church, Anglicanism more broadly, or what have you.

    This may sound harsh, but in fact it is loving because it tells the truth. I wish I’d had more truth told me when I embraced Anglicanism through the Episcopal church. Had I been confronted with the truth of what the Episcopal church believed and practiced and where it was headed, and had I known it would not adjust to me, I would have to take it on its own terms, I would have walked away very fast.

    But God in his providence allowed me to go into and then out of the Episcopal church. For which I am thankful. I still have many friends within the Episcopal church and I pray for them and agonize for them.

  28. Um, I apologize for my many typing errors. I guess my dimwittedness is now evident to all. Returning to scratching myself, drinking beer and shouting at the TV.

  29. “if your first response is to equate masturbation with love of neighber (admittedly your syntax is a bit unclear), then regardless of what Perry rights, you will find Orthodoxy wholly uncongenial to such a viewpoint.”

    @Benedict–Sorry for any syntax errors. I began on one topic but meant to move to another more general topic. My bad. Thanks for pointing this out to me.

    And, in case I am misjudging your syntax, I am not trying to be a “dung-loving” fly. Nor am I really an episcopalian. I just find an underlying tone in his form of writing that I don’t appreciate. I have read many things about the American Episcopal church, and it is a given that there is a very wrong turn being taken. However, I was a little bit shocked at, as you see it, the “tough love” approach that the Orthodox church takes and appalled also at the comments I was reading. It didn’t at all carry a tone of being truth-tellers in love, in my opinion, if that is the way that you want to represent Orthodoxy. (And, yes, I’m well aware that I am making myself a target of those same nasty commentators by saying this.) I’m not saying that Perry is wrong for developing rational arguments, by any means, just that the somewhat sneering tone of his argument in written form didn’t fully reflect to me the dual values that Christ held: truth AND love. You agonize for your fellow episcopalians, you say, and I can appreciate that. Thank you for your response to me. I know that I must have frustrated you, but you responded with grace. 🙂

  30. episcopalianwoman,

    I think you mistake some annoyance and frustration for hatred. My frustration was in part due to silly arguments that a graduate student should know better than to make.

    On the other hand, if you are appalled by what I wrote, what I wrote is nothing compared to what the church fathers wrote about various heresies.

    I would recommend that you look over the initial conversation and see how I interacted there.

    Futher, I lived through a situation of watching people destroy a Christian tradition and body so tha perhaps colors my frustration. They did it and so so either thinking only of themselves or in taking glee in doing so. So if I am a bit ticked at it, I think I am bit justifiably so. It is a horrible thing.

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