|Monday, 16 June 2003|
|The Episcopal Church's General Convention is coming up. There are all kinds of resolutions to be decided upon by the lay and ordained delegates in both houses for all manner of things. I'm getting lots of e-mails covering the different issues and topics to be discussed, decided upon, and voted upon from the Episcopal News Service in preparation for the convention. I'm simply going to comment on some of them as I feel the need.
I just finished reading an article dealing with minority ethnic groups and the focus the Church needs to pay to the development of new liturgies and resources for what the article calls an important mission field. Of course I have no problem with this, except...
I worry about many within the current leadership of the Episcopal Church who have taken on the broadest possible view of inclusion. Kind of like when someone is so open-minded that all their brains fall out. In the name of ecumenicalism, tolerance, openness, guilt of the fact that Christianity is traditionally an exclusive religion (those who follow Jesus Christ and not just those who seek some sort of something above and beyond themselves), egalitarianism, guilt for living in a prosperous nation, etc., there are those who would incorporate anything into Christianity just to make others feel good about themselves and the Church.
One example is a new liturgy for Chinese people who honor their dead. The idea, I assume, is to write a new liturgy that enables them to do so within the Episcopal Church. Here is my reservation: if the new liturgy encourages the ancient Chinese custom of ancestor worship, then I think we are wrong to do such a thing. It is one thing to venerate and remember in respect our ancestors, but another thing entirely to worship ancestors - to do so is unchristian. I don't care whether it makes bunches of people feel good about our Church or themselves, it is not Christian.
Another pet-peeve revolves around those who say all Anglo-culture must give way because pretty soon the non-Anglo's will be the majority in the U.S. Yes, fine, but which individual expression of an alternate culture will surpass the predominate Anglo-culture? None of them, with the possible exception of Hispanic culture There is definitely a future in missions work and ministry among all the different ethnic and cultural groups in the U.S. I love the fact that there is such variety in our country, but the future of the Episcopal Church does not rest exclusively in catering to ethnic and cultural minorities. I think, again, it goes back to '60's style liberal guilt over WASPish (Catholic, Jewish, etc.) privilege -- in order to redeem ourselves, we have to down-play (and often times denigrate) anything that smacks of Anglo, European, and Caucasian emphasis. No, we don't! First off, we are an Anglican Church - we are from England, and there is nothing wrong with that. Second of all, there will be a Caucasian and general Anglo-cultural majority in this country for the next century, although the numbers are definitely changing, of which I don't have a problem. I don't think it is a bad thing that we continue in an Anglo dominated culture with English as it's language. If you look around the world, countries with an Anglo cultural domination are doing pretty darn well in most aspects of life!
So, yes, pay attention to and minister to the different ethnic groups in this country, but stop apologizing for being an Anglo church and stop acting like if we don't spend all our attention de-Anglicizing the Episcopal Church that it will surely fail! Besides, there is no reason the Episcopal Church in the United States of American cannot continue to be thoroughly Anglican, speaking English.
"In the light of this reality, other standing committees will
Again, I do not doubt that knowing a language other than English or familiarity with a culture other than North American Anglo-culture is a very good thing, but when are we supposed to learn these things during a three year seminary experience? Either the quality of education pertaining to scripture, liturgy, history, theology, or practical pastoral stuff will have to suffer in order to include yet another series of classes in Spanish or French or whatever language, or we are going to have to be in seminary for four years. The requirements for Greek and Hebrew have been done away with - they are just options now. There are no Latin courses offered. Being culturally relevant is very important, especially for linguistically and culturally ignorant Americans, but what culture will most of us be in? North American Anglo-culture is were the vast majority of us will reside and were the majority of the over all Episcopal membership will come from for the next century, except for certainly geographical locations along the boarder with Mexico. Puerto Rico is a Spanish speaking commonwealth - I don't expect them to change the predominate language to English even though they are part of the United States. For those who are to minister in such places, of course knowing Spanish will be important.
We are a predominately culturally Anglo and English speaking nation. I do not feel bad about saying to any migrant or immigrant to this country - learn English! When I lived in Germany, I knew I had to learn to speak German, even though English has become the international language and most Germans know English fairly well. We do not need to be a bilingual nation, despite what guilt-ridden "liberals" feel. "Liberal" is not a very good word to use for what I mean, but I cannot think of a better one at this point. Besides, you do not hear conservatives bemoaning our Anglo culture or the English language.
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