[So many revisionists are unable to resist reading and commenting here that we need to re-post the dictionary that helps explain their language and definitions for the other Episcopalians and Anglicans on this blog, along with the bemused Christians from other denominations who read.]
The Revisionist Dictionary
First Edition—August 2007
This dictionary seeks to shed light on current debates in the U.S. Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion by exploring the foibles of Anglican Progressives (also known as reappraisers, revisionists, and theological liberals). Progressives’ Orthodox opponents (also known as reasserters and theological conservatives) have many foibles of their own. But Progressives’ foibles need attention more urgently. Progressives have long been better organized than the Orthodox, are ascendant in most rich-country Anglican churches, and now control most levers of power in the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Progressives have largely set the terms of current debates, often in ways that mask their agenda and keep the Orthodox on the defensive.
In satirizing Progressive language and Progressives’ putative view of Anglican concepts and institutions, this dictionary seeks to illuminate the Progressive ethos and to suggest the possible consequences of Progressive terminology, tactics, and thinking. Fortunately, real-life Progressives don’t necessarily hold the extreme views caricatured here. Many, for example, disapprove of Progressive bishops’ harsh treatment of Orthodox clergy and congregations. Yet both sides need to pay closer attention to what Progressive terminology denotes and connotes. Such is human frailty that yesterday’s parody can become tomorrow’s reality. Better to satirize it than simply let it happen.
This dictionary uses the capitalized words “Orthodox” and “Progressive” in a specialized sense:
—- ORTHODOX denotes theologically conservative persons and views in the context of the U.S. Episcopal Church and the broader world of Anglican Christianity; it does not refer to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Synonym: Reasserter. When uncapitalized, “orthodox” denotes conforming to established Christian doctrine.
—- PROGRESSIVE denotes theologically liberal persons and views in the context of the U.S. Episcopal Church and the broader Anglican world. Synonyms: Reappraiser; Revisionist.
Asterisks denote words defined elsewhere in this dictionary, as do cross-references like “See” and “See also.”
20/20 VISION: Plan adopted in 2000 to double the Episcopal Church’s average Sunday attendance by 2020. As of 2005, attendance had fallen 8% from its 2000 level. At this rate of decline, attendance will have fallen 28% by 2020.
815: Affectionate nickname for the Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017. Mainspring and heart of the church. Efficient cornucopia of resources for apologetics*, parish ministry, evangelism, and litigation. Located one block from United Nations Headquarters to facilitate sharing the Episcopal Church’s insights with world governments. Has New Age bookstore and penthouse apartment for presiding bishop. “815 has spoken; the case is closed.”
ABANDON COMMUNION: Short for “abandoning the communion of this Church.” An Orthodox priest abandons the communion of the Episcopal Church if he takes a long-planned sabbatical without notifying his Progressive bishop. A Progressive priest does not abandon communion by converting to Islam. Such deep* and sagacious distinctions illustrate why Progressive bishops are bishops and you are not.
ABRAHAM: Husband of Sarah.
ACCEPTING: Approving; welcoming. “Unless you become more accepting, we cannot accept your presence.”
ACTION PLAN: Plan already doomed to inaction.
ADOPTIONISM: More bother than reproductive rights.
AFFIRMING: Accepting*; displaying cheerful tolerance*.
AFFIRMING CATHOLICISM: Progressive theology in High Church garb; smells, bells, and birettas untainted by catholic theology.
ALPHA COURSE: Orthodox recruiting device. “Alpha lets you explore the Christian faith in a relaxed setting.”
ALTERNATIVE EPISCOPAL OVERSIGHT: Arrangement by which a congregation claiming it cannot in good conscience accept the authority of its own diocesan bishop comes under the authority of another bishop; subversive alternative to DEPO*; step towards local schism. See also Donatism (2).
ALTERNATIVE PRIMATIAL OVERSIGHT: Step towards regional schism. “The Diocese of Pittsburgh, dismayed by the theology of Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, has requested alternative primatial oversight.”
AMENDMENT OF LIFE: Forsaking “sin” (1)*; reforming your ways. “Having repented of my sin, I firmly intend amendment of life.” Superseded by baptismal covenant (2)*.
AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL: Nexus of Orthodox Conspiracy.
ANALYZE: To “think about anything for more than a few minutes” (Tony Proscio).
ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA: Second most enlightened member church of the Anglican Communion.
ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK: Schismatic cult allied with Orthodox Conspiracy; synod of discontent.
ANGLICAN COVENANT, PROPOSED: Hurtful* exclusion* device sought by Orthodox Conspiracy and its Global South* allies to subvert the autonomy* and polity* of the Episcopal Church; yoke of bondage. See also Curia; Inquisition.
ANGLICAN SECRETARIAT: Facilitates inter-Anglican cooperation: e.g., by providing staff support for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Anglican Consultative Council, Primates’* Meeting, and Lambeth Consultation. Administered by a secretary general who reports to the Archbishop of Canterbury and always comes from among well-connected Progressive clergy in wealthy, enlightened English-speaking countries. Priceless resource for Progressive Anglicanism.
ANGLO-CATHOLIC (increasingly rare): High Church reactionary.
APOLOGETICS: Apologizing for all that is wrong with Christianity. “Bishop Grobble has taken apologetics to a new level: begging Al-Qaida’s forgiveness for the Catholic Reconquest of Spain.”
(1) Traditionally, “the reconciliation of God and humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ” (Merriam Webster).
(2) For radical progressives, a pernicious doctrine of “cosmic child abuse,” in which “God murder[s] his son for the salvation of the world” (Giles Fraser).
AUTHENTIC: In the case of women, persons of non-European ancestry, and sexual minorities, fidelity to the outlooks and ideologies prescribed for their group: respectively, militant feminism, militant separatism, and militant militancy. “In shouting ‘Coitus is punishment!’ Andrea Dworkin offers an authentic voice* of feminist rage. See also Identity.
AUTONOMY: Freedom from any non-P.C.* constraint. “To preserve its integrity, the Episcopal Church must zealously maintain its autonomy.”
(1) Traditionally, the covenant made at baptism by which we repent, renounce sin, accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and become members of Christ, redeemed by his atoning sacrifice. “Obdurate sin grieves the Holy Spirit and violates our baptismal covenant.”
(2) For Progressives, two related ideas: that baptism irrevocably confers good standing in the church so neither “sinful” conduct nor heterodox belief disqualifies any baptized person from holding church office; and that baptized persons need little trouble themselves about “sin”*, repentance*, or amendment of life*. “A moratorium on ordaining noncelibate homosexuals would betray our baptismal covenant.”
BARGAIN WITH GOD: To balance God’s will with our own needs.
(1) “To strike with a heavy, crushing blow” (American Heritage Dictionary); “to injure or damage by striking” (Merriam-Webster).
(2) To criticize. “Orthodox bloggers bashed the new Presiding Bishop for her ‘Mother Jesus’ sermon.” See also Demonize; Hurtful; Insensitive; Offensive; Pejorative Labeling; Safe Place, Tolerate; Verbal Violence.
(3) Expenses-paid trip to church convention.
BEYOND INCLUSION: Quotas; speech codes. “We must now go beyond inclusion to give the pyromaniac community* a truly warm welcome*.”
BIBLE: Collection of ancient patriarchal texts available for reinterpretation, contextualization, deconstruction, ridicule, and selective use. Subordinate to canons (2)*.
BIBLIOLATRY: Worship of the Bible*; believing that the Bible has greater authority than the Constitution and Canons (2)* of the Episcopal Church. “If we exalt scripture as the supreme, preemptive authority, we may well be guilty of bibliolatry” (D.C.).
(1) If Orthodox, kindly figurehead; pastor to diocesan clergy; first among clerical equals.
(2) If Progressive, God’s Vice-Regent; S/he Who Must Be Obeyed.
BOUNDARY CROSSING: Performing episcopal acts, such as confirmations and ordinations, in the territory of another bishop without that bishop’s permission; unpardonable sin. “According to Bishop Howard, the Ugandan bishop improperly crossed diocesan boundaries by confirming 15 persons at a new Anglican church in Jacksonville.”
BOX: Container into which the Orthodox put God. “If you stake the gospel on Christ’s bodily Resurrection*, you put God in a very small box.” Because Progressive reason is liberating*, Progressive beliefs do not similarly confine God.
BOY: Small, disruptive, potentially patriarchal human in need of domestication.
(1) Set of ancient writings traditionally referred to as the Bible*: “the canon of scripture.”
(2) Corporate bylaws of the Episcopal Church; living scripture. “The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church are the supreme authority for our common faith and life.”
(3) In reference to Progressive clergy, priests affiliated with a cathedral and freed from the tedium of parish ministry. “The Reverend Mercedes Moonbeam-McGillicuddy is Canon Missioner for Diversity Curriculum Coordination and New Age Awareness.”
CHANCELLOR: Chief legal officer of the Episcopal Church or its dioceses. (David Booth Beers is Chancellor of the Episcopal Church, and don’t you forget it.) The Chancellor provides the legal interpretations needed by Progressive church leaders and makes examples of clergy and vestries who attempt to make off with parish property. See also Parliamentarian.
CHARITY: Money or property given to others so as to make them feel bad. “We don’t take charity.”
CHEAP GRACE: Grace* without repentance*. Derogatory term borrowed from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a well-known citizen of Nazi Germany, and now used to deride the theology and practice of the baptismal covenant (2)*. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship (1937), Bonhoeffer defined cheap grace as “the grace we bestow on ourselves,” manifested in “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance” and “baptism without church discipline.” Bonhoeffer claims that cheap grace “amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sins departs.”
CHICKEN DINNER: Cheap, reduced-fat form of bribery, alleged to work magic on poor-country clerics. “According to well-placed Progressive sources, the American Anglican Council plans to woo Global South primates* with bounteous chicken dinners.”
CLINICAL PASTORAL EDUCATION: Assigning a seminarian to an emergency room, nursing home, hospice, or other place of acute human need to provide value-neutral, answer-free spiritual counsel. “My clinical pastoral education taught me not to offer easy comfort to bereaved families but to give them space to discover for themselves the meaning of their suffering.”
COMMUNITY: “Any group of people with anything in common” (Proscio), particularly an oppressed minority group: “the pedestrian community”; “the pyromaniac community.”
CONFESSION: Superseded by baptismal covenant (2)*.
CONSULT: To ask for others’ opinions as a mark of inclusion and respect, without necessarily planning to listen.
CONTEXT: Background facts we invoke to neutralize or liberate* unhelpful* parts of the Bible. “We must take Christ’s rejection of ‘immorality’ in the context of first century cult prostitution.” See also Lectionary.
CONVERSATION: Playing the Progressives’ game by the Progressives’ rules. If you are Orthodox, you cannot have a satisfactory “conversation” with Progressives unless you discuss their agenda on their terms, using their language and working towards their conclusions. Come, let us reason together!
COUNCIL OF NICEA, FIRST: Church council held in 325 C.E. Prohibited boundary-crossing*.
CREED: What we say after the sermon.
CHURCH GROWTH CONSULTANT: Explains why your congregation does well by shrinking more slowly than others.
CURIA: Possible result of Anglican Covenant*.