Walter Russell Mead Unloads on Episcopal Bishops
I’m not urging the bishops to change their politics. I’m urging them to shut up. More precisely, I’m urging them to base their ministry on a clearer understanding of their situation and their role.
Let me nail some cyber-theses to the virtual door.
1. Nobody cares what you think while your tiny church is falling apart.
In a diocese not a thousand miles from my home in glamorous Queens, there once was a bishop whose long and public battle with alcoholism rendered him unable to carry out his duties. For years and years this diocese suffered under grievous mismanagement and its rotten condition was an open scandal widely discussed and lamented throughout the national church. Yet in the general shipwreck of his episcopacy, this bishop (or what remained of the diocesan machinery) somehow managed to get ‘prophetic’ statements out on political causes of various kinds. So far as I know, none of these statements ever had any impact on anyone’s thinking anywhere on Planet Earth.
This poor bishop, now thankfully retired, was an extreme case, but why, exactly, would any sane person today pay attention to the political pronouncements of an Episcopal bishop? Episcopalians are a tiny minority of the population and the church long ago lost its social power and cachet. The Episcopal church today is in the worst condition it has been since the aftermath of the Revolution; its clergy has visibly failed to keep the church together or prevent its ongoing decline. I’m afraid that the penchant to make political pronouncements proceeds less from a true prophetic vocation than from a nostalgia for a time when it mattered what Episcopal bishops thought. In any case, there is nothing more ridiculous than a proprietor of a failing concern who officiously lectures everyone else on how to manage their affairs. Please, for the sake of what remains of the dignity of your office, give it a rest.
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