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Has The Church Become Too Feminine?

Friday, September 12, 2008 • 2:29 pm


From here: 

Women are deserting the Church in their thousands and turning to the pagan religion of Wicca.

Flowing skirts and garlands hold more attraction than a mitre

Tired of waiting to wear a mitre, they are putting on pointy hats instead - or dressing in garlands and flowing skirts at any rate.

This, generally speaking, was how the newspapers sold the conclusions of a study by Dr Kristin Aune - a Derby sociologist - into churchgoing habits.

It claimed that the Church faces a crisis in maintaining female worshippers who have become disillusioned because of its traditionalism and hierarchies.

Wicca, on the other hand, offers them real empowerment apparently as they can aspire to the lofty position of High Priestess.

They can even establish their own coven if they so wish.

Now there’s power. Who cares about sitting in the House of Lords when you could be overseeing witches developing new spells?

Maybe the Episcopal Church was ahead of the game when it posted a “pagan” rite - called A celebration of the Divine Feminine - on its web site a few years ago.

As part of the eucharist, the priest raises a cup of milk and honey and then a plate of raisin cakes to Mother God, before saying: “Thank you, Mother, for the abundance of life for the rich, full, pleasing, and life giving milk of our bodies.

“Thank you for the children who drink from our breasts for they bring sweetness to our lives. We drink this cup as your daughters, fed from your own bosom.”

It goes on: “Mother God, our ancient sisters called you Queen of Heaven and baked these cakes in your honour in defiance of their brothers and husbands who would not see your feminine face.”

This affirmation of womanhood, which Dr Aune argues is one of the main attractions of paganism, is bolstered by a hostility to men, as if the two can not be complementary but rather are mutually exclusive.

Such aggressive motives for baking cakes are unlikely to have passed the lips of WI members, but mad as it all may sound, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori used similar language in her first sermon as the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop-elect.

“Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation - and you and I are his children,” she said.

As a totemic figure for many of the pro-women bishops campaigners in England, it is safe to assume that a decent proportion of them wouldn’t even adjust their hearing-aid at such a remark.


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Comments:

What they’re baking is <s>Caca Toro</s> Anglican Fudge and in copius quantities.

[1] Posted by Piedmont on 09-12-2008 at 02:52 PM • top

Nonsense, I mean Nunsense. Just because I wear a dress, carry a smoking purse, and have a pom-pom on my hat, with a lovely necklace around my neck does not mean we are feminine. Nor does the slip and girdle I wear under my dress…If it is feminine it is in a VERY butch way…

[2] Posted by FrVan on 09-12-2008 at 02:57 PM • top

<s>Father Van</s> Mother Vanessa would be less butch if <s>he</s> she would shave <s>his</s> her moustache! grin

[3] Posted by Piedmont on 09-12-2008 at 03:06 PM • top

I’ll use Nair! smile

[4] Posted by FrVan on 09-12-2008 at 03:07 PM • top

Let me see if I understand this.  The Christian Church needs to be “feminized” so the women in the Church do not turn to wicca and set up their own coven?  Allow witchcraft in TEC so it will not be set up outside of TEC on their own?  Tell me again how we all need to get along together.  Tell me again how TEC is a Christian organization.  Or just tell me some other fairytale to breakup a Friday afternoon.

[5] Posted by Elizabeth on 09-12-2008 at 03:24 PM • top

wicca wacca woo we’re the men of TEC some like women too!

[6] Posted by FrVan on 09-12-2008 at 03:35 PM • top

Hey. I’m a lumberjack and… I’m okay!

[7] Posted by ears2hear on 09-12-2008 at 03:38 PM • top

I feel so affirmed and included…

[8] Posted by FrVan on 09-12-2008 at 03:39 PM • top

It claimed that the Church faces a crisis in maintaining female worshippers who have become disillusioned because of its traditionalism and hierarchies.

Wicca, on the other hand, offers them real empowerment apparently as they can aspire to the lofty position of High Priestess.

They can even establish their own coven if they so wish.

Now there’s power. Who cares about sitting in the House of Lords when you could be overseeing witches developing new spells?

See, their whole problem is that they don’t have nuns.  (Not really, anyway).  Nuns don’t have to join covens to exercise power.  Nuns have been running things for more than a thousand years.  A hundred years ago when most Protestant ladies were at home baking cakes, nuns were administrating multi-million dollar hospitals and running schools and colleges and other major institutions.  Nuns know plenty about power.  As Father Guido Sarducci says (describing a system of re-incarnation in which people who are really bad in this life “like Mafiosi” have to come back as nuns)—“actually, most nuns ARE former Mafiosi.”

[9] Posted by Catholic Mom on 09-12-2008 at 03:42 PM • top

FrVan, are you an executive transvestite?

Elizabeth, the obvious answer is these women were not part of the invisible church to begin with. It’s tragic that they would fall away despite years of chances of hearing the Gospel. It’s also tragic TEO would trade away the Gospel in a wrongheaded attempt to achieve “growth.”

[10] Posted by texex on 09-12-2008 at 03:45 PM • top

)—“actually, most nuns ARE former Mafiosi.”

I think they call it the Witness Protection Program now…

[11] Posted by FrVan on 09-12-2008 at 03:45 PM • top

executive transvestite? I don’t know big boy, humm a few bars and let’s see… I’m not sure what one is though…

[12] Posted by FrVan on 09-12-2008 at 03:47 PM • top

texex,

Why do you assume they had “years of chances of hearing the Gospel” ?  Just because they sat in a TEC pew?

[13] Posted by Elizabeth on 09-12-2008 at 03:47 PM • top

The next thing you know, we’ll have covens breaking away from the more “advanced” covens, and the latter will be casting spells liberally on the orthodox Wiccans, who will then attempt to leave with their property and the liberal covens will consult a Washington law firm and hale them into court. But that’s O.K. They’ll fund all these suits by casting spells on everyone they owe money to. (I know, dangling participle or something.)
Dumb Sheep.

[14] Posted by dumb sheep on 09-12-2008 at 03:55 PM • top

Women are deserting the Church in their thousands and turning to the pagan religion of Wicca.

Why don’t they just become Episcopalians?  Oh, wait, they did.

Yo, Dumb Sheep:  In Virginia, the outcome of the property lawsuits will depend on whether they are hierarchical covens or non-hierarchical covens.

[15] Posted by Chazaq on 09-12-2008 at 04:13 PM • top

Perhaps it is a case where being a priest is not macho enough for men and the women see it as an opportunity to be motherly… Look at the real estate market; once a man’s world but now a woman’s world.

[16] Posted by Tom Dennis on 09-12-2008 at 04:20 PM • top

Maybe the Episcopal Church was ahead of the game when it posted a “pagan” rite - called A celebration of the Divine Feminine - on its web site a few years ago.

Just to state the obvious, any woman strongly inclined to wicca would probably become a wiccan, rather than stay in TEC just to partake of a diluted form of it, so this statement really doesn’t make any sense. As is often stated, it’s futile for any denomination try to cater to people using worldly culture. They’ll always be trailing the secular world when trying to simulate it.

[17] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 09-12-2008 at 04:35 PM • top

I think they call it the Witness Protection Program now…

Close, but no cigar. In TECusaCorp, it is called the Witless Protection Program.

the snarkster™

[18] Posted by the snarkster on 09-12-2008 at 04:36 PM • top

FrVan, see Eddie Izzard.

Elizabeth, you raise an excellent point. I would contend that even in it’s weakened 1979 form the hearing the liturgy in the BCP can be used by the Spirit to bring people to faith.

[19] Posted by texex on 09-12-2008 at 04:45 PM • top

Texex,

You are right, of course.  If we allow ourselves to hear the Spirit and not our own desires even TEC cannot drown it out.  The most outrageous femine liturgy I have experienced came from a Lutheran Women’s group in the 70’s that would make a wiccan blush.

[20] Posted by Elizabeth on 09-12-2008 at 04:57 PM • top

Catholic Mom:

See, their whole problem is that they don’t have nuns.  (Not really, anyway).



Can’t fool you!  Of course we don’t have real nuns.  Just the dress up and make believe kind.

Which makes it a marvel and a wonder that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are hanging out in your Church instead of mine.  Or they sort of are.

But if they ever do discover the Episcopal Church, I’m sure they’ll be welcomed with open arms.

Then we’ll see who has bragging rights over nuns.  In the meantime, enjoy them while you can.

Now, we definitely don’t have a Father Guido Sarducci of our own (Matt Kennedy doesn’t even come close) and that is very much to our detriment.

However, I must disagree with the good Father on one point.  I suspect it’s the nuns who are coming back as Mafiosi.  At least, most of the time.

All that knuckle rapping and ruler whacking finally achieves full fruition in . . . even more drastic forms of discipline.  That’s why most Mafiosi are ready for the job on day one.

Who knows how many lifetimes of previous experience that represents, experience that even purgatory couldn’t overcome?

Of course, in true Via Media fashion, I have to concede that you’re free to hold either position: nuns > Mafiosi, or Mafiosi > nuns.  Provided that reincarnation itself isn’t called into question. (We can’t go that far.)

This may just be another one of those realities we aren’t in touch with, but I expect there’s enough bad karma to go around that it could actually work both ways.  As long as no one is giving anyone else a bad name in the process, and reputations are properly maintained, perhaps it doesn’t really matter.  Anyway, that’s the Broad Church position.

I wouldn’t want to add to the confusion on this important subject, but a joint Anglican-Roman Catholic study commission may be in order.  What do you think? wink

[21] Posted by episcopalienated on 09-12-2008 at 05:40 PM • top

Prediction (arrived at through sarcasm and logic, no tea leaves, raisin cakes, chicken entrails or divine feminism used in making this prediction):

Within my lifetime, the Episcopal Church will sue a breakaway wiccan congregation.  Some wiccan-o-palians will break communion with TEC in a squabble caused by the new prayer book of 2019 replacing the traditional wiccan ceremony (rite IV of the BCP 2009) with a new liturgy, which will prove unacceptable to orthodox wiccans.  Additionally, due to duress claims filed by a gay male bishop, men will, for the first time, be allowed to preside at the wiccan liturgy.  Of course, at first only gay male priests will be allowed to preside, but a few straight males manage to slip in and then, regardless of promises made to the wiccans after the first male initiations, the floodgates will open and soon there will be druids performing rites on the altar as through they were legitimate priestesses.

[22] Posted by tjmcmahon on 09-12-2008 at 05:51 PM • top

Of course we don’t have real nuns.

You obviously did not spend any of your school days under the tutelage of the Sisters of St. Anne.
And let me tell you, if these wiccan types ever run across one of those good Sisters, said wiccans will have a BIG problem.

[23] Posted by tjmcmahon on 09-12-2008 at 06:02 PM • top

tjmcmahon:

You obviously did not spend any of your school days under the tutelage of the Sisters of St. Anne.



No, I was spared that fate by a merciful Providence.  Or at least that’s what my Calvinist friends keep telling me.  Who knows?

But let’s not tell Catholic Mom about it.  She seems to think that the exercise of bondage and discipline . . . er, uh . . . tutelage, is the exclusive preserve of Roman Catholic religious orders.

I don’t want her bitterly disillusioned on my watch.

And let me tell you, if these wiccan types ever run across one of those good Sisters, said wiccans will have a BIG problem.



With any luck, the good sisters are already on the prowl.

Let’s just hope they don’t get carried away and pack the Wiccans off to parochial school.  There are limits, you know.

Then again, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea, bruises and all.  Lots and lots of discipline.  No recess until they get it right.  Certainly no mince pie unless they really, really deserve it.

That should bring the Calvinists around.

And if they don’t object, how can I? wink

[24] Posted by episcopalienated on 09-12-2008 at 06:50 PM • top

This comment has been deleted because it adds nothing to the conversation and is a personal attack.  Please limit your comments to the actions.  Possibly a refresher course would be of assistance. 

It’s been a long day.  I urge you not to push the limits.

Commenatrix

[25] Posted by helpmelord on 09-12-2008 at 07:18 PM • top

Can’t fool you!  Of course we don’t have real nuns.  Just the dress up and make believe kind.

Sorry…my apologies.  It wasn’t the reality of the ones that exist I was commenting on, it was their numerical frequency.  I would think that it would be accurate to say that most Episcopalians in the U.S. (and quite possibly most Anglicans throughout the world) have never actually met an Anglican nun—much less been taught by one or been in a hospital run by Anglican nuns.  So Anglican women have little experience of nuns as an example of strong religious women.

[26] Posted by Catholic Mom on 09-12-2008 at 07:39 PM • top

[25] helpmelord

That post was unkind.  You should apologize and withdraw it.

carl

[27] Posted by carl on 09-12-2008 at 07:48 PM • top

The comments about “we don’t have real nuns” is NOT TRUE AND AN INSULT to those committed to the religious life. I suggest you goggle Anglican Religious Communities and see how many are in the US. 70% or better of the American monastaries and convents are conservatives and many are orthodox and Anglo-Catholic. I suggest you look up the Community of St. Mary Eastern Province, All Saint Sisters of the Poor, St. Anne’s, Sisters of the Holy Nativity, Community of the Transfiguration,and the Benedictine communities, etc. The reason they are disappearing is that clergy will not support vocations to the religious life especially the conservative ones. These communities deserve your apologies for comparing them to wiccan or pagan feminism.

[28] Posted by Houseownedbythedog3 on 09-12-2008 at 08:42 PM • top

The Anglican monks and nuns I have met have a very vigorous sense of humor and don’t take offense easily. And yes, they are committed to the religious life, orthodox and all those good things. If and when we turn this ship around, I hope to see many vocations for both sexes. Those who remain in the face of the many obstacles put before them are rocks. In the meantime, I suspect that any who are reading this thread are laughing rather than indignant. Also, as they tend to be quite learned, many probably know more about druidry and wiccan practices than any of us. Certainly enough to roll their eyes (as do many wiccans) at such “inclusiveness” so lamely attempted.

On Malacandra, those who are drawing the Church away from Christ would be called “bent hnau” and dealt with drastically and kindly. Here, best we pray for them, eh?

[29] Posted by ears2hear on 09-12-2008 at 08:59 PM • top

Umm…Houseownedbythedog, nobody was comparing Anglican nuns to wiccans.  Whether Anglican or Roman Catholic, I believe the experience of people on this thread with nuns has been that they are FAR from being wiccans.  A humorous comparison was made to Don Corleone and his goombata, but definitely not to pagan feminists. smile

[30] Posted by Catholic Mom on 09-12-2008 at 09:07 PM • top

Catholic Mom:

I would think that it would be accurate to say that most Episcopalians in the U.S. (and quite possibly most Anglicans throughout the world) have never actually met an Anglican nun—much less been taught by one or been in a hospital run by Anglican nuns.  So Anglican women have little experience of nuns as an example of strong religious women.

Well, you needn’t spend too much time worrying about it.  We were already in trouble.

But if the precipitous drop in religious vocations in your Church doesn’t turn around soon, Anglican women may not have much experience with Roman Catholic nuns either as “an example of strong religious women.”  Neither will anyone else. 

http://www.geocities.com/Pharsea/Decline.html

The mantle of leadership may fall on the shoulders of those of you who haven’t taken vows.  But I’m not very concerned about it.  You have my complete confidence.

Don’t worry too much about the apology either.  While I suspect that it is often your intention to insult us (and you do it rather well), I am invariably more amused than offended by your remarks.  Today was no exception.

I just keep hoping that your imperious Roman tone will one day give way to more of a “we’re in the soup together” approach to dialogue with Anglicans.

But like I said, I have confidence in you.  Lots of confidence. 

That, and a bias in favor of strong religious women.

So, keep your chin up, but don’t lead with it. 

You’ll be fine. smile

[31] Posted by episcopalienated on 09-12-2008 at 09:30 PM • top

Don’t worry too much about the apology either.  While I suspect that it is often your intention to insult us (and you do it rather well), I am invariably more amused than offended by your remarks.  Today was no exception.

Perhaps that’s because my remarks are invariably intended to amuse, not to insult.  So it would appear that they’re not too far off from achieving their intended results.

I just keep hoping that your imperious Roman tone will one day give way to more of a “we’re in the soup together” approach to dialogue with Anglicans.

 

Well, of course, one would always like to hope that ones own soup is less—shall we say “soupy”—than others.  Why else, with a quarter of my net worth represented by Merrill Lynch stock (well—it was a quarter before it became about 5%) and another 150 Merrill stock options expiring out of the money in January ‘09 would I spend so much time today checking the price of Lehman Brothers?  Still, I hope that I have neither an imperious Roman (though I must admit I do like the sound of that—somehow makes me feel like I live in a villa being fanned by slaves) nor imperious Merrill attitude.

[32] Posted by Catholic Mom on 09-12-2008 at 09:43 PM • top

[32] Catholic Mom,

If memory serves you also fail to exhibit much of an imperious Lynch attitude. smile

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

[33] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 09-12-2008 at 10:46 PM • top

Merrill Lynch stock (well—it was a quarterbefore it became about 5%)

Wasn’t it Merrill Lynch that froze SJ’s assets?  Anyone looked at their stock chart since they did that?
I wonder too if the sudden decline of several huge Wall Street firms will have any impact on the presumedly fully funded TEC pension funds, or the income of Trinity.
Sorry to bring up economics this early in the morning.

[34] Posted by tjmcmahon on 09-13-2008 at 07:55 AM • top

I don’t think the Church is feminine enough.  Maybe all the men could wear dresses and then it could be TECK—the Episcopal Church of Klinger.

[35] Posted by DaveW on 09-13-2008 at 08:22 AM • top

Does a bear crap in the woods?

[36] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 09-13-2008 at 09:30 AM • top

This is an example of the insanity and cruel behavior clergy like the PB and her ilk bring about:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/may/12/mentalhealth.health

‘I make it look like they died in their sleep’Reverend George Exoo is a leading figure in the right-to-die movement. He says he has helped 102 people to commit suicide. But, reports Jon Ronson, most of his clients were not terminally ill, just depressed and in need of psychiatric help
Jon Ronson The Guardian, Monday May 12 2008

In January 2002 it was reported on the Irish news that a woman’s body had been found in a rented house in Donnybrook, Dublin. Her name was Rosemary Toole and, police said, she had been suffering from depression. Her suicide would probably have gone unreported were it not for the fact that she’d been spotted at Dublin airport a day earlier, picking up two jolly-seeming Americans at arrivals. The three of them were then seen drinking Jack Daniels and coke at the Atlantic Coast Hotel in County Mayo. At one point - other drinkers later testified to the police - Toole stood up to go to the toilet and did a jig at the table. The next day she was dead and that night the two mysterious Americans, one wearing a dog collar, left Dublin.

The Irish police released the names of their suspects. They were seeking the arrest and extradition of the Reverend George Exoo and his partner Thomas McGurrin, of Beckley, West Virginia, for the crime of assisting a suicide, which, under Irish law, carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

I telephoned Exoo to ask if I could follow him around. I imagined myself as being pro-assisted suicide, although I didn’t know much about the ins and outs. But it seemed only fair to let someone kill themselves and have a reverend at their side if that is what they wanted. The Irish prosecutors struck me as draconian and anachronistic. I wasn’t alone in believing this: radio phone-in shows across Ireland were ablaze with callers supporting Toole’s right to kill herself with a reverend at her side.

And so, at dawn on a Monday in 2003, Exoo and I set off in his clapped-out old Mercedes towards Baltimore (a five-hour drive) to visit a new prospective client, Pam Acre, who said she had been suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome since the 70s and was considering killing herself later in the year. Exoo was paying for the petrol even though he was broke. He said he asked for donations from his clients but often didn’t get them, but he didn’t care because this was his calling.

“I’ve never done anything as important as this in my ministry,” he told me en route. “I think it’s the reason I was placed on this planet. I’m a midwife to the dying, for those who want to hasten their deaths.”

Exoo was cheerful, quite giggly, a gay, liberal, libertarian Unitarian preacher, cultured, funny, charming. He said he often carried around a large, gas-filled inflatable alligator to his “exits” in case the police stopped him on the way. He often used gas as a suicide method. With the alligator, he could pretend he was a children’s party entertainer. But lately he had begun phasing the alligator out.

Read the rest here

[37] Posted by mari on 09-13-2008 at 06:38 PM • top

You folk are having so much fun poking fun that you’ve missed the most ridiculous part of the whole story.  Most mainline churches have many more women attending regularly than men, you’d think that their knickers would be in a twist over that.

[38] Posted by Kate S on 09-15-2008 at 07:02 AM • top

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