"Be on your guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be brave. Be strong.
Be loving in everything you do." - I Corinthians 16:13-14

Ye Olde ECUSA Paganism Roundup

Sheesh. Get immobilized for a few days by a raging fever, and you miss all the action. Reminiscent of our wildly popular post "Toil and Trouble" from back in May, Christianity Today's weblog on October 26 posted this item about a "women's eucharist" that's in fact an almost word-for-word ripoff of a pagan Druid ritual. The text of the liturgy in question was supposedly here, but as you can see if you click the link, the page is 404. Moved. Yanked. Ahem...

Meanwhile, TitusOneNine got hold of it, and its visitors did their usual number on it in the comments sections here, here and here.

Chris Johnson at MCJ didn't see what all the fuss was about, and encouraged everyone to keep an open mind, saying "The pagan tradition is a rich one, and has much to offer modern Anglicanism." Just kidding. He skewered and spit-roasted all the offending parties here, here, here, here, here and just in case he missed a spot, here.

The Pontificator chimes in here, and Ecumenical Insanity cracks wise here.

Posted by Greg Griffith at October 29, 2004 07:54 AM (GMT -6:00)

Can ECUSA now officially leave the Anglican communion and join the Unitarian communion? How can this stand?!?

# Posted by: Marty at October 29, 2004 08:08 AM

Oakwyse, our notable Episcopal Preist / Celtic Druid, in his own words:

I am a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, because in him I see a profound example of the presence of holiness, the "Ground of Being," in human flesh. But I believe that everything the Church now says about Jesus, Jesus himself said about people in general. God's (or the Gods') incarnation is everywhere, and in everyone. This makes me certainly a panentheist (God is in everything), and perhaps a pantheist (everything is God)

I believe that the concepts of resurrection and reincarnation are non-provable metaphors for exactly the same thing: life is stronger than death. And people should not set one of those metaphors over against another. Heaven is fully integrated life in the presence and awareness of the Holy. (BTW - "hell" is being in heaven and not liking it. A position people put themselves in, not God.)

...I am a follower of Jesus mac Dei, but I am very unsure about the "one, holy, catholic, apostolic church." The Bible is the record of the search for God of a specific tradition through the ages. It contains some truth, some beauty, some pathos, and a whole lot of garbage. Like everything else, it makes you dig for what's valuable in it.

Yes -- my form of faith makes me a heretic in the eyes of fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Pagans. But heresy is in the eye of the beholder! And there are many, many Christians who see life and the Gods as I have described.

I suspect that John Lenon was the great western theologian of the twentieth century, though he might well have poured a beer over my head for saying so!


# Posted by: Marty at October 29, 2004 09:40 AM

Marty, et al,

I don't know how it can--what should happen is that Bennison yanks their collars or puts them on probation at least. I know of a priest who got sort of panentheistic in our diocese, and without permission took part in a Metropolitan Community Church service, and when the bishop found out, he was immediately put on probation and quite soon his "collar" was indeed yanked. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what +Bennison does with it.

For the record, I fired off an email to the webmaster for the site that posted the "liturgy" and she wrote back with what sounded like a sincere apology: "I do not want to add to the woes of our church and I take your concerns very seriously." Then closes with, "When this settles down I will surely take time to reflect on the use of the website and technology for our work and what is useful for the cause of justice & inclusivity in the service of the gospel."

Well, I should HOPE SO!!!! Still troubled by the idea that she still thinks "inclusivity" means apparently worshiping other deities, I wrote back again to say we've very publicly found the line that needs to be drawn on "inclusivity."

What else is troubling is how relatively little surprise is being registered by you all. Personally, I am shocked to the very soles of my feet.

If this is truly---and I'm praying it's an aberration--more representative of the ECUSA than I knew, then I am, and a lot of other gay and lesbian Christians will find ourselves in exile from any version of the Anglican Communion.

# Posted by: Barbara+ at October 29, 2004 09:44 AM


The reason nobody here is shocked is that we see so much of it. There was the Morristown, NJ thing last month. There was the "Toil and Trouble" story (link in main post above) in May. If Chris Johnson had a nickle for every item like this he posted, he'd have this huge pile of nickles.

I have to laugh, though, when I think of Bennison yanking these folks' collars. Bennison is THE REASON that garbage like this happens. He's not the solution. And don't expect 815 to come down on them, either. You can see what they've been doing so far: Making excuses, removing web pages, covering their tracks, denying and obfuscating us usual. This is why there is such intransigence on the part of conservatives in the face of 815's non-stop whining that we should all "talk" and get on to "reconciling." Reconciliation means that, with this issue as with all other issues where bad theology has led to messes such as this, conservatives must accept it in the name of "inclusion" and the "middle way." I'm heartened by your finding your own line that must be drawn when it comes to "inclusiveness," and just as you found your line well to this side of where they found theirs, understand that many of us have found our line well to this side of where you found yours. That said, make no mistake how glad I am to hear that you and I are both on the same side of THIS particular line.

# Posted by: Greg Griffith at October 29, 2004 10:20 AM

Unfortunately, I am no longer "surprised" at anything ECUSA does. What would surprise me would be that ECUSA would repent of all the various heresies it is actively promoting. What I feel is sadness and disgust at how low this once great denomination has sunk.

ol' snarky

# Posted by: Michael Ware at October 29, 2004 11:04 AM


I just read through ""Toil and Trouble" story and followed up on some of the links re Jim Toy and that diocesan funds went to that "conference." (shaking my head) No wonder the talk about a LBGT "agenda" and about heresies of the ECUSA. I swear, I thought you all were over-reacting to the small beer stuff of which I was aware. I don't know what to think. It's going to take me awhile to work this through. Why didn't I know about this before? Why don't mainstream (gays and lesbians included) others? This is incredible stuff--it's a freak show, pardon my language. Disgusting, dismaying, even scarey in a way. No---it's definately frightening.

I have no idea what I personally can do to help this situation, I feel totally disqualified by virtue of my family commitments. All our "voices" are in danger of being silenced by "disqualification" for what we hold most true and beautiful. Where's the center of the church do you think? Is there still more to this?

# Posted by: Barbara+ at October 29, 2004 11:04 AM

FWIW, Melnyk/Oakwise says

"...[I] have for years served as a chaplain to Integrity, the Episcopal organization for Lesbians, Gays, and other-Gendered people. "

I have a hard time believing that many many people have not been aware of this stuff for a long long time. It's all part of the pattern...

# Posted by: Marty at October 29, 2004 11:26 AM

Chris Johnson just posted a list of interesting titles found in the online Episcopal Bookstore.


Plenty of good stuff for those Episcopalians who prefer worshipping "the goddess" to Jesus...

# Posted by: Marty at October 29, 2004 11:31 AM

I just moved this post from the other thread over to this one. -mike

Barb+: The question is not "What is wrong with these people?" but "What is wrong with ECUSA for allowing this to go on?". ECUSA's response was disingenuous in the extreme. One unfortunate aspect of the response was that it was originally released by an intern who is a seminarian under the sponsorship of the Diocese of Mississippi.

I am going to sign off now so Tom Head can make his usual dispassionate, anything goes defense of ECUSA.

sir snarksalot

# Posted by: Michael Ware at October 29, 2004 11:39 AM

Barbara: I suggest you and mainstream others do not know about this kind of thing because it is not in the best interest of those who have been duped by the lie of "unity in diversity" to inform the mainstream. Stuff like this is a natural consequence of subscribing to the unity in diversity lie perpetuated by the father of lies, versus resting in the peace of unity in the saving gospel of Jesus, which is the only hope that has the power to change lives.

Have doubts? Check out the chaos described in Judges 19-21, which warms up with an offering of a virgin daughter and a concubine to homosexuals and concludes with the statement "everyone did as he saw fit". The Episcopal Church has been doing as it has seen fit under the label "unity in diversity" for years. While it's not clear to me from this Judges passage which behavior begat which, it *is* clear in Romans 1. We have been given over to a fascination with homosexuality because of our worship of manufactured deities other than God our Father. Other forms of chaos - like what we see here - are just another natural consequence. Why should anyone be surprised when the church becomes decimated by stuff like this when we have forsaken our relationship with Him? Without Him to protect us, we can't tell a false teacher from a true one.

But thanks be to Him that He continues to long for us and woo us just as He did His people in Israel as described in Jeremiah. (Chapters 2 and 31 are absolutely heart-wrenching.) I believe that in his mercy Jesus will intercede for us to restore us, His church, His bride, if only we will return to Him. Barbara, God loves you and longs for you too, and I am praying for you and me right now, that we would repent of our leaving Him and have a desire to return to Him.

# Posted by: taz at October 29, 2004 12:07 PM

Regarding the "Toil and Trouble" article, Barbara asks:

Why didn't I know about this before? Why don't mainstream (gays and lesbians included) others?

Correct me if i'm wrong here, but wasn't this in your home diocese of Michigan? Are you at all associated with Oasis, the Episcopal LGBT group that invited these pagans? I'm not trying to sound like i'm accusing you of anything, but am a bit suprised that someone of your unique qualifications did not receive an invitation to this event -- or even VIP status and a seat on the podium.

# Posted by: Marty at October 29, 2004 01:05 PM


Mea culpa, I was wrong. Please forgive me. I dismissed you as a "pagan" several thousand (?) blogs back. My blog name is: Name Withheld+.

I really meant that (in the sin of the moment) in kind of a dismissive, superior way to the things that you believe about human sexuality which I think (perhaps, know) are incorrect. I wrongly dismissed and labelled you. Please forgive me.

Who would have ever thought that having REAL pagans post their stuff on ECUSA would be personally helpful to me in such a way?

PS: To avoid being misunderstood. The first two paragraphs are sincere. The third is "tongue in cheek".

# Posted by: name withheld+ at October 29, 2004 05:23 PM


I wholheartedly agree with you. Willful disobedience leads to darkness where everyone "does right in their own eyes."

AND, Jesus is Lord. He is busy pulling all of us out of our iniquity. Praise be to God. Maranatha.

# Posted by: name withheld+ at October 29, 2004 05:30 PM


No, it's not my home diocese, but it is the diocese in which I was ordained twenty years ago. I know of Jim Toy by name from those days, but that's all. There's nothing like that going on in my diocese, which is the Diocese of Western Michigan. I've been here about twelve years now. No thanks, no VIP invitation for me. I have gay and lesbian friends, but they're not part of any kind of pagan scene either. They're part of Cursillo--a "renewal" movement in the ECUSA--gifts of the Holy Spirit and all that.

I'd be "persona non grata" with any neo-pagan christian wanna be maybe group that features the LBGT community. We have nothing in common except that we are gay. PERIOD.

I'm part of the relatively small charismatic part of the ECUSA. So see, I'm wierd in other ways, but those ways are a lot more "orthodox" especially to the early Church, like gifts of healing, praying in tongues. I've always found my truest Church family among the Cursillo ECUSAn's--who are pretty "charismatic." We like to pray with their hands in the air, and surrender ourselves to God's purposes. So, Surprise!

# Posted by: Barbara+ at October 29, 2004 08:17 PM

Name Withheld+,

Thanks for your apology, but obviously the misunderstanding is understandable--I forgive you totally, and everyone else reading who thought that same stuff. It's a confusing and difficult situation, more and more, day by day, in some ways for me now. But, yeah, I think uncovering this paganism thing has been helpful to me, too, because I had no idea and need to know.

What I believe is true about human sexuality is not a lot. It's not clear at all. I know myself and my own life for certain, and my walk with God, initiated by God. I believe that our personalities are basically set by the time we're two or three. It's probably not solely genetic. It's clear to me from my own life and those who've shared theirs with me, that "gayness" is set by then. But being gay or lesbian is ancillary, imo, to our Christian faith and our day to day walk with Christ.

# Posted by: Barbara+ at October 29, 2004 08:30 PM


To be very clear--I'm also not associated with Oasis but did try to create a chapter of Integrity here in my diocese. It lasted awhile but no one had time to lead it so it dispersed several years ago. But my application and money are in to Integrity as we speak for simple individual membership. Integrity overall is NOT associated with paganism.

# Posted by: Barbara+ at October 29, 2004 08:41 PM

Thanks for the clarification Barbara -- no offense meant. It just seemed odd that you indeed did NOT know of that event. Of course, it was VERY well publicised on the web by conservative christian of many denominations.

FWIW, it seems that the Wrong Rev. Melnyk (aka Oakwyse the druid) did a stint in Ann Arbor. Small world i guess...


# Posted by: Marty at October 29, 2004 08:52 PM


It's the same Rev. Melnyk. Actually, I've met the guy in another venue completely. Just after I was ordained I became interested in joining a small religious order for men and women of a contemplative nature that was just starting called the Order of Julian of Norwich. Melnyk was my contact or mentor. I quit after a very short time because it felt as if they were playing make-believe medieval church--not serious about contemplative prayer. Melynk had been priesting in Tennessee but moved briefly to Michigan where I met him personally (after corresponding with him by mail before.) I remember one thing especially that bothered me that he mentored me to do but which I refused: to celebrate the Eucharist alone, as RC priests used to do, for personal worship. (It's strictly against our canons.) Anyway, I lost contact with him while he was still in Michigan. So I guess he's really been on this path for awhile, it's just become more strange.

# Posted by: Barbara+ at October 30, 2004 07:39 AM

I'm mostly an occasional lurker on the comments here. Titusonenine is where I comment most often. But tonight I've been encouraged by this thread and wanted to share something that struck me.

First though, Greg, hope you're feelilng better.

Now for my primary comment: Barbara+, it is a real encouragement to see that you've become a regular in reading, thinking about these issues and posting on Stand Firm. I remember the intensity and all the name-calling and mis-understandings on that first incredibly long comment thread... It is a blessing to see that you stuck it out in spite of the failings of many of us "conservative"/"orthodox" commenters, and that this blog has been a source of spiritual growth for you. I applaud your courage and faithfulness and willingness to search and examine the Scriptures and ask God for wisdom in these matters. That is something we ALL need to do and you are serving as a great example.

These days are not easy in our church. The pain and confusion and tension are very real. But it does seem that God is doing something extraordinary in using this crisis for many of us to draw us closer to Him, to cause us to re-examine what we believe and recognize our true dependence on Him for the renewal and restoration of our church.

# Posted by: Karen B. at October 30, 2004 08:27 PM

Marty seems not to be saying that there are 2 Rev. Melnycks. Rather, he seems to be making a pun on his title as the "Right Rev." who has "wrong" beliefs! Hence, the Wrong Rev. Melnyck.

# Posted by: MIlton at October 30, 2004 11:07 PM

Karen, Michael:

Thanks to you and everyone else who's welcomed me back.

Karen, I echo your sentiments about Barbara. I think of her as our "hen's tooth" - that rare revisionist who's willing to look at her own camp's agenda with a clear eye. I regret that Lynne has decided this site is the work of the devil, but i take solace in the knolwedge that Tom, Barbara, ian and others have decided it is something far far better.

# Posted by: Greg Griffith at October 31, 2004 11:12 AM

Greg, Karen B., et al,

Thank you very much for your kind comments. They're very timely too, I think by the grace of God.

I read what Lynne wrote--took her point about the risk of dwelling in negativity very seriously. Then, too, after this last appalling revelation re paganism in the Dioceses of PA and Michigan, while blowing the leaves this afternoon, praying, thinking--I wondered to what degree I've been simply playing the fool here, that it was dumb of me to think we were actually joining as equals in Christian conversation. The thought that worried me, was that I was, rather than your "hen's tooth" more the village idiot--amusing, to be pitied, a neo-pagan--but not taken at all seriously as a sincerely committed Christian and fellow traveler.

So thanks again for taking me seriously! I take you all seriously, absolutely. Please believe me when I say I'm nothing if not sincere. I just speak from my heart here in hope of candid Christian dialogue about issues that we all care about passionately.

# Posted by: Barbara+ at October 31, 2004 04:55 PM

"A Ritual to Read to Each Other" by William Stafford:

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consideró
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give - yes or no, or maybeó
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Blessed All Saint's Day Everyone!

# Posted by: Barbara+ at November 1, 2004 04:38 AM