March 1, 2017

February 23, 2010

Walter Russell Mead Unloads on Episcopal Bishops

Creedal Christian points us to this most excellent rant by noted liberal Walter Russell Mead:

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.

Hie thee hence.

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This is one of the most refreshing reads I’ve had in a long time.  It should be set to music.

[1] Posted by Cindy T. in TX on 2-23-2010 at 09:59 AM · [top]

And, on a completely unrelated note, the lead post over at La Keaton’s Telling Secrets is about how she’s flying off from her priestly duties to attend a meeting of The Consultation in Nashville.  After that, “the Consultation meeting is followed by a gathering of the Episcopal Urban Caucus - which I will miss most of as I head from Chi-town to Nashville for a meeting of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus.”

[2] Posted by Nasty, Brutish & Short on 2-23-2010 at 10:10 AM · [top]

Even as a liberal, he gets it:
“Instead of proclaiming a gospel of salvation that still brings lost sinners streaming through the doors (ask the Pentecostals and evangelicals who have continued to grow even as we shrink) we issue statements urging the federal government to fulfill its contributions to the Millennium Development Goals and to raise the minimum wage.  They preach and plant churches; we have professional development workshops for diocesan employees.”

[3] Posted by Cindy T. in TX on 2-23-2010 at 10:11 AM · [top]

Check out the “Diogenes” thread over at MCJ.  Bp. Whalon, an institutionalist “moderate” with decidedly liberal leanings, is critiquing The Glorious Party. 

Not quite the Coversion of Paul, but we need to be praying for scales falling from eyes and some progressive leaders to turn back to the Gospel priority of the church.

[4] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 2-23-2010 at 10:25 AM · [top]

My favorite section of the article is this:

The job of a bishop isn’t to make statements about the minimum wage or the Iraq war.  It’s to help the clergy in his or her diocese form communities that produce dynamic, committed and intelligent laypeople who will shape political debates on these and many other matters.  A bishop isn’t here to inject Christian values into public policy debates; a bishop is here to inject mature, thoughtful and committed Christians into public life.  The Diocese of Long Island shouldn’t be taking stands on the minimum wage; it should be producing people who transform the life of the region at every level of engagement.

Incredible that a liberal columnist gets what so few of our church leaders get.  [I’m reminded of liberal gay op-ed writer Matthew Parris’ article in the London Times in 2003 which saw so clearly things our own church leaders could not understand.]

[5] Posted by Karen B. on 2-23-2010 at 11:11 AM · [top]

Mead, not Meade.

[6] Posted by Bob Livingston on 2-23-2010 at 11:48 AM · [top]

Thanks Bob - headline corrected.

[7] Posted by Greg Griffith on 2-23-2010 at 11:52 AM · [top]

Thanks! I needed that. (g)

[8] Posted by Romkey on 2-23-2010 at 12:43 PM · [top]

To mistake an ideology or a social model for the transcendent and always surprising (and irritating!) Kingdom of God is, technically speaking, the sin of idolatry.  It is to worship the work of our own hands.  What makes it worse is that to some degree in the mainline churches we have replaced faith in the scripturally based and historically rooted doctrines and values of the Christian heritage with faith in progressive social thought.

Wow. I hope this gets widely publicized.

[9] Posted by oscewicee on 2-23-2010 at 12:49 PM · [top]

The author is preaching against TECs very image of itself.  TEC wants very much to be the spiritual leadership of the revolution.  The revolutionary purpose of man is to build the revolutionary Kingdom of God on Earth.  TEC positions itself to provide the metaphysical justification for every brick and board used in the effort.  How can TEC be the spiritual leadership of the revolution if it doesn’t expound upon political matters?

There is hope in TEC that its current irrelevance will give way to significance if only the right people would listen.  Then the light of TEC would supplant the darkness of secularism, and TEC would take its appropriate place at the head table in the national Assembly.  So it keeps on speaking.  No one listens.  No one will ever listen.  But the current leadership of TEC could no more change its image of itself than a tiger could shed its stripes.


[10] Posted by carl on 2-23-2010 at 01:13 PM · [top]

I agree, Carl.  At the very minute I was praising the author for his position, I realized he was asking TEC to extinguish itself.  Not a bad idea, in its current trajectory.

[11] Posted by Cindy T. in TX on 2-23-2010 at 01:30 PM · [top]

I believe everyone is entitled to his or her delusions and far be it from me to try and deprive them of their feelings of security. Meade is major messing with TEC’S delusions.

[12] Posted by FollowerOfTheWay on 2-23-2010 at 03:58 PM · [top]

“Rusty” Mead’s father is Loren Mead, an Episcopal priest who was the head (founder?) of the Alban Institute.  Both of them know where the bodies are buried, as it were.

[13] Posted by Violent Papist on 2-23-2010 at 04:58 PM · [top]

Thank you, VP.  That was very helpful.

[14] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 2-23-2010 at 06:25 PM · [top]

The Alban (“The message doesn’t matter, just the packaging”) Institute, you say? 

Heh.  (Snort).

[15] Posted by Elder Oyster on 2-23-2010 at 07:28 PM · [top]

Now if only those bishops would read and heed!  But I suppose that’s hoping for the best while expecting the worst, isn’t it?

[16] Posted by Cennydd on 2-23-2010 at 07:30 PM · [top]

What? No one gave up Schadenfreude for Lent?

The Rev’d Chris Larimer, OHI
Vicar, St. Stephen Anglican Church

[17] Posted by FrChris on 2-24-2010 at 10:44 AM · [top]

RE: “No one gave up Schadenfreude for Lent?”

Why on earth would the liberal Mead need to give up schadenfreude as he chronicles the incompetences of our TEC leaders?

Or why would Creedal Christian—an Episcopal priest—need to give up schadenfreude as he posts the article critiquing his own denomination’s leaders?

Or for that matter, why would Greg Griffith, Episcopalian in the Diocese of Mississippi, need to give up schadenfreude as he posts the article critiquing his own denomination’s leaders?

[18] Posted by Sarah on 2-24-2010 at 11:09 AM · [top]

Go back and read the epistle lesson for today. When they see that we aren’t mad, but heart broken for them, then the world will take notice.

Who knows…God may even take those who have been His enemies and make them His spokespersons.

At least, that’s what a guy who used to be called Saul might say.

[19] Posted by FrChris on 2-24-2010 at 10:49 PM · [top]

One can devoutly pray for the enemies of the true gospel to have their own Damascus road conversion, a la Saul of Tarsus.  I pray for that at every Eucharist.

However, I’ve also heard it said that one could compare modern mainline “Progressives” to the Sadducees of Christ’s time.  They implicitly (or not so implicitly) rejected the resurrection and an afterlife, were liberal and accomodationist in regards to incorporating the Hellenism of their day, and religious elitists who desired to maintain the priestly caste. 

The Pharisees, for all their faults, believed in a resurrection, afterlife, and a messiah, and produced people like Saul/Paul and Nicodemus, who were at least open to the transforming message of Christ.  Most notably, the Bible has absolutely NO record of any Sadducee embracing the Gospel.  Their sect died out with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.

To which sect would we compare the current leadership of TEC?

[20] Posted by Joshua 24:15 on 2-25-2010 at 06:07 PM · [top]

I thought all this talk about deviant sects was what got TEC into the mess it’s in in the first place.

I very much doubt any of them will repent and recant of this false gospel. But I came to Anglicanism through the Reformed tradition, so with the 2nd Helvetic Confession (ch 10), I try to maintain “a good hope for all.”

After all, as Abp. Duncan is fond of saying: “God made a bishop out of me…imagine what He can do with you!”

[21] Posted by FrChris on 2-25-2010 at 11:25 PM · [top]


I thought all this talk about deviant sects was what got TEC into the mess it’s in in the first place.

Who are you calling deviant?  Some of the finest Christians I know are into sects.

Pompous, overbearing, mean spirited, narrow minded - but a great bunch of folks and you gotta love ‘em.

After all, as Abp. Duncan is fond of saying: “God made a bishop out of me…imagine what He can do with you!”

Yeah, well I guess that’s why Archbishop Duncan doesn’t have a TV show of his own.

I have a very vivid imagination and I’m still not a retired millionaire.  Am I supposed to blame that on God?

I’m not sending that guy any money either, even if they do put him on the air.  Unless he’s offering splinters from the True Cross for under a hundred bucks.

And I sure don’t wanna be no bishop. cool smile

[22] Posted by episcopalienated on 2-26-2010 at 12:17 AM · [top]

Alienated - I was making a homophonic pun. Read it again, aloud.

As for being a retired millionaire, if that’s the limit of your imagination of what God wants to do to and through you, you may want to cut back on boasting. The false so-called prosperity gospel on TV (or gospel of envy preached by the hard left) is no Gospel at all (see last week’s Gospel reading).

[23] Posted by FrChris on 2-26-2010 at 08:43 AM · [top]

I believe you need to read Episcopalienated’s post one more time, aloud. Sarcasm, irony, and a play on words-
“Some of the finest Christians I know are into sects.”

Humor is like charity- if you want others to see the humor in your words, you need to be prepared to see the humor in theirs.

[24] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-26-2010 at 08:58 AM · [top]

Mea culpa! What was it they said about how much of communication is what you say and how much is how you say it? KJS is going to be in my back yard on Sunday - I guess I’m just a little tense.

[25] Posted by FrChris on 2-26-2010 at 09:13 AM · [top]

There’s a huge difference between ++Duncan and +(?)Jefferts Schori:  God made him a bishop, and misguided people made her a bishop(?).

[26] Posted by Cennydd on 2-26-2010 at 11:17 AM · [top]


Who are you calling homophonic?  Never mind, don’t answer that.

I was actually lampooning the whole “prosperity gospel” approach, something which I doubt Archbishop Duncan believes in anymore than I do.

Admittedly, he and I aren’t working together as a comedy team.  Although, if His Grace isn’t too busy with his day job and can find the time . . . 

But if you’re Truly Reformed, why are you using expressions like mea culpa?  Is there something wrong with English - and are you really a crypto-papist?

Just kidding!  Just kidding!

Sorry to hear about your back yard, but I think it’s awfully gracious of you to let Mrs. Schori in there.  And entertaining her on the front lawn might cause a bit of a stir.  That’s wise judgment on your part.  But no wonder you’re feeling tense.

I’d have her over for tea myself but she never calls.

I knew there was a reason I was supposed to be blog fasting for Lent.  Now I remember what it was.

You get into less trouble with the clergy that way.

My own confessor requires full disclosure and will probably smack me in the head when he learns of this latest episode.

But thanks anyway, TJ.  You dig OK! tongue wink

[27] Posted by episcopalienated on 2-26-2010 at 02:30 PM · [top]

It sounds like I’m talking to you. If the shoe (er, buskin) fits…

As for KJS in the back yard, it’s only because I’m all out of oven mitts so I’m hoping she brings the mitre of infamy. I’ll send her your way afterwards, though. It looks like it would make a helluva tea cozy.

[28] Posted by FrChris on 2-26-2010 at 02:39 PM · [top]

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