Spirit of an Age

[Be aware, I’ve got to proof read the following.  Don’t have time at the

When I entered the Episcopal Church, I came because I
was interested in investigating a liturgical and sacramental form of
Christianity.  I have to admit, and this is a bit simple, that I was
intrigued by the word “Episcopalian.”  I suppose that may be one reason
why I chose an Episcopal church over a Lutheran church. Conveniently,
there was a large Episcopal church down the street from my new apartment
I rented upon moving to Akron.  So, I attended.  I knew nothing at the
time of “Anglicanism.”  What kept me in that parish and this
Church was not simply liturgical worship or sacramental Christianity,
but the ethos and history and form of power within the Anglican system
and form of Christianity.  I was captured by Anglicanism, and the Church
that was the Anglican Church in the U.S. was and still is, at this
point anyway, the Episcopal Church.  Would I have stayed in the
Episcopal Church if it were not “Anglican?” I don’t know, frankly, but
the history and Tradition of Anglicanism is what keeps me in this Church
(and a vow I made, of course).

As I did some reading on the
history of the Episcopal Church I realized the unique position
Anglicanism plays within greater Christianity – there are
Charismatic-Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics and “Latitudinarians,”
there are Arminians and Calvinists, conservatives and moderates and
liberals, there are “High church” people and “Low church” people and
“Broad church” people, Protestants and Catholics… there are all kinds
of people who historically have argued and fought for their particular
party, piety, or theology, but who have remained together around the
common worship of the Church to Almighty God.  This “Via Media” form
provides a wonderful counter example to the way the World, and frankly
much of Christianity, conducts itself.  We stayed together!

recognized early on that there were forces afoot within the Episcopal
Church that wished to subjugate this via media and force Anglicanism to
bend to particular theological and pietistic beliefs.  Yet, we were
staying together, until 2006 when an action of a bishop in the American
Church, which at the time was not at all political but the actions of
the people of a diocese electing a trusted priest to be their new
bishop, caused everything to change. The election became very political;
suddenly the reactionaries (liberal and conservative) had a cause to
rally around and a straw with which to break the camel’s proverbial

Coming out of American-Evangelicalism during its political
and social ascendancy, I am convinced that among a growing number of
“conservative” Episcopalians was a determination to remake U.S.
Anglicanism into their image of “correct Christianity.”  This group of
Episcopalians were not acting like traditional Anglican-Evangelicals,
but more like American-Evangelical Religious-Right activists who were
determined to force their particular view-points and beliefs upon the
whole Church to the exclusion of another other traditionally Anglican
form, particularity of the Broad Church/Laditudinarian form.  Again,
coming out of American-Evangelicalism, I saw the same attitudes and
tactics of the pseudo-conservative, politicized Religious Right movement
and the goals of such groups as the Institute of Religion and
Democracy.  This wasn’t “Anglican,” but was and is very “American.”

I will assert that much of the reaction of many conservative
Episcopalians was and is due to the hubris and authoritarianism of
“liberal” Episcopalians who have aped the worst of the cultural
Identity-Politics and Political-Correctness juggernaut. I have seen the
oh-so-welcoming and inclusive liberals act in dramatically hypocritical
ways that are shockingly exclusive and demeaning to people who don’t
jump on their bandwagon. I am truly saddened that so many pseudo-liberal
minded Episcopalians cannot countenance the inclusion of conservative
minded Episcopalians, and their actions are one of the primary reasons
for the more draconian conservative counter-actions. 

Most true
conservative and true liberal Episcopalians do not mind at all the
differences existing within the same Church, but the
fundamentalist-conservatives and fundamentalist-liberals cannot accept
traditional Anglican diversity, so they will rather accept the
destruction of the Church than to enter into any kind of compromise or
willingness to co-exist – the very foundation of Anglicanism. This is
the attitude of the “leadership,” however.  The extremes have been
allowed to occupy the center of Episcopal and Anglican life for too

Thus, the war between to extremist groups in the U.S. has
been exported all over the world in their attempts to gain allies and
to eject the “other” from the Anglican Communion. Purity is the war cry,
for both the pseudo-liberal and pseudo-conservative agitators. This war
has its origins, of course, in the U.S. Culture Wars, and we have taken
up the same “weapons of war” used by the non-Christians in our own very
“Christian” battles.  Too bad, because our “weapons” should not be
theirs, but because they are we no longer have any kind of credible
alternative to the brutish and destructive way of engaging the “other”
with different beliefs or understands from our won without desiring
their destruction or complete subjugation.

Well, I thing a lot of
this dualism and rejection of compromise and new found authoritarianism
comes from a certain Spirit of the Age, a zeitgeist, that this more
generational than time-based. The “Spirit of a Generation” might be a
more accurate way of describing this attitude and determination to act
in such was that are profoundly unchristian.  While not all Baby Boomers
have been duped by this secular “spirit,” the “Spirit” does permeate
the thinking and behavior of that generation.  Looking in, the actions
and attitudes of, say, Bishop Bruno and Bishop Duncan are the same.  The
way that Bishop Iker and Bishop Chane think are the same – perhaps
opposite sides of the spectrum, but still the way they think is the

Fundamentalism is fundamentalism, whether expressed in a
“conservative” or “liberal” form. This generation is very
fundamentalistic.  It is “our way” or no way.  We will remake the world
in our image and anyone that gets in our way must be eliminated –
figuratively or actually.

While every generation will have both
positive and negative attributes, the problems this Church, American
Christianity in general, and the Anglican Communion are going through in
our time will never be solved until this generation is out of power. 

The next generation of leaders will face their own
proclivities, but there is something peculiar about the Baby Boomer
generation.  We are no reaping the whirlwind of their generational
spirit, and it is proving to be not very good.  Of course, not all that
this generation has done is bad.  Change in many spheres of life and
culture needed to occur, but when a generation determines to untether
itself from the lessons and wisdom of the past and believes that they
are uniquely predestined to usher in a new world order, well, the world
is in trouble.

So, the Episcopal Church and Anglicanism in the
U.S. and much of the world will just have to wait this out.  There is no
way under currently leadership that a Godly solution will be found.  It
just isn’t going to happen.  There is too much pride, arrogance, and
bitterness for the Anglican Way to triumph.  Anglicanism will continue,
but it will take a while before we can begin rebuilding trust and
God-centered fellowship.  It will be another 25 years before the
Episcopal Church will be able to begin rebuilding.  We will be a very
small Church at that point, because the current leadership will not
change.  That may be defeatist, but human nature is a sinful nature and
short of divine intervention, well, I pray for divine intervention.

am very hopeful for the Church, for Anglicanism, for Christianity in
this country, but I realize that we too often get in God’s will being
accomplished.  His Church will survive!  Anglicanism is wonderfully
situated to meet emerging generations in their spiritual quest, but not
the way it is being conducted right now.  We wait.  We wait for the time
when we can rebuild.  Until then, we lift up the name of Jesus Christ,
we preach Christ crucified and resurrected and ascended, we engage the
Sacraments, and we worship together in the ancient Anglican form around
the common alter, the Scriptures, and the Prayer Book.