The emotional appeal of supporting a saintly man, who divorced his wife to live as a gay couple with another man,in his quest supported by people in N.H. to be a bishop, took-over the last Episcopal Convention in Minneapolis. The reaction to an eleventh hour false charge was dramatic- enough nonesense made the difference to then make two decisions that put the Episcopal Church in the U.S. out of step with the global Anglican communion, of which it is but a small part.
Life long Episcopalian, Richard R. Tryon, writes as the son of his namesake, who wrote "You Can't Escape God" that is also found at this web site. The son's reflections now relate to his 71 years of living and are approaching the span of time (75 years) lived by his father.
You are invited to read and respond with your review which can be posted here, if you so wish.
If you think you already have your mind made up, you may find that nothing here confirms or denies your point of view, but it is also possible that some new factors may come to your attention and deserve additional thinking.
This may be especially true if you are an Episcopalian in the U.S., but even if you are not even a member of any church, you may find thoughts to help inspire further thinking about the meaning and purpose of life.
What really is at issue?
by Richard R. Tryon
The Episcopal Church has appealed to its diverse members for a very long time without having to deal with very many instances of disagreement on a scale sufficient to render blows to its fabric able to tear it apart.
For those of us now in the so-called senior group because of advancing age, we have seen or been aware of changes that seemed divisive in almost each decade with an awareness that perhaps started in the fifties. Up until that time we knew that the Episcopal Church was based upon generally accepted, and Biblical supported moral and spiritual truths. We did not yet know enough about the universe to wonder much about what was up there? Nobody had flown above about 30,000 feet and that was in a balloon, not a device made for space travel.
The Seven Sacraments were part of the faith and administration was by male priests, dedicated to serving God, who were thought by my generation of children as being men that were not Divine, but certainly one step closer to and higher than of us, to God. They certainly looked to be higher from our prayerful vantage point in the pews. Our parents always kissed the ring of the visiting Bishop as a sign of deference to superior status and knowledge about all aspects of our religion. As a lad able to serve as an acolyte, I felt privileged in just being allowed to be in attendance when special prayers were spoken before the service in the sacristry. These routines had been on-going for hundreds of years without change. I was humbled and impressed.
Then I discovered Buck Rogers! His adventures in comic books expanded our imagination! Of course it took the church a bit longer to catch on...but by the time of the events of the Woodstock festival, it was not going to be long before we found experimentation in our church with so-called 'folk mass' sung with guitar accompaniment and long-haired unshaven young men helping us to sense a new vitality?
Somewhere along about this time, the Church told us that all of us who happened to be not in a minority status called colorred, negro, or black, brown were obliged to pay reparations to those in the designated minority groups because of the notion that slavery was a collective sin of one group upon another no matter the what the demographics of each group. It was one of the poor decisions that did not seem to work and the issue was quietly allowed to avoid implementation.
By the time of the new Prayer book in 1978, it was clear that a great movement was underway. It was destined to evolve more and more. By the time the Hymnal was re-done in 1982, it sort of seemed like a necessary step to keep up with the times and a lot of old favorites were left in place. The age of civil liberties, so-called 'human rights' and PCwas arriving.
Then came the discovery that the Bible had a minor flaw in seemingly directing that all priests had to be men because Christ was a male in his Earthly body. The discovery that the tradition was skewed by a male dominated part of the world where women seldom obtained enough education to accept such a position, came to the surface as an inevitable consequence of the inspired feminist crusade for the ERA. While ERA failed, in spite of one or more extensions of the period for adoption, the logic of seeing women of this age in this nation in the pulpit was widely accepted. Aside from the ancient fact, women were clearly just as well qualified as men for virtually all of the duties of the priesthood, and in fact, superior to many men in many ways, and totally so when it came to reproducing the species via pregnancy.
So, it is perhaps acceptable to the remaining minority of old men, to conclude that these changes did not really affect the basic relationship of the individual to our God. Each of us still has the notions of childhood in place. Our value systems, thought to be in place by age ten, and hard to change after twenty, still were intact. The Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and notions of protecting the sexual rights of females from theft by over zealous males were still part of our church understandings and therefore we did not need to overturn these notions.
Although rape, incest, and wanton pursuit of sexual pleasure were rarely discussed, it was commonly understood that the commandment dealing with adultery ruled out any chance of being involved in such without being a sinner! Sinners were known to be subject to dire consequences in those formative years of my generation! Excommunication by the church was thought to be the way to experience the wrath of God! Therefore, discovery of one's own sexuality sure put a stress on those understandings, and young men and women sure knew when they were playing with fire. Devout young men who slipped one way or another into homosexual circumstances tried very hard to either suppress or change their preference.
By the time my wife and I were married, at a relatively early age, in 1955, the progression of changes had not yet shown much evidence of what was to start happening with the advent of the age of civil liberties. The progression has brought with it a profound change in how many Christians now relate to a system of morality that is more in keeping with the values put forth by this age of civil liberties and corollary so-called 'human rights'.
Instead of trying to be among the faithful, living in conformity to the wisdom of the ages concerning property and individual rights that pass the test of being in step with God, we have changed to avoid being judgmental. After all, Christ did say about Mary Magdalene, "He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone". Therefore, rather than seeking to avoid the wrath of God by conforming, we invented 'situation ethics' to allow that circumstances can mitigate the error or even excuse it. Indeed, some are more tolerant of abortion among the poor who can't feed the ones already starving, while others insist that no woman can have such an action be excused!
Somewhere in the past decade, church leaders invented 'process theology' to avoid having to dispute or debate articles of faith connected to the many miracles of our faith in Christ. The important role of the church started to shift from pastoral care to help counsel and guide the flock to confessing to seek forgiveness, or avoiding sin, to enable our spiritual growth to make us more likely souls to be favored for promotion in the hereafter to a position closer to God, not further away.
This lead us to the idea that the purpose of church is to be inclusive,without trying to judge anyone or any action. This idea ultimately teamed up with the discovery that one reason we are all individuals with many differences is that we discovered that genetics now can identify over 100,000 coded snippets that may help determine how our psyches work with the rest of civilization and the environment and time in which we encounter one thing or another, to produce conditions that literally force the individual to fall out of conformity with ancient rules and commandments. This is a slippery slope! Is there any crime if all are performed in accordance with DNA codes and circumstances beyond individual control or responsibility?
The current problem in the Episcopal Church in America is how to avoid being judgmental and therefore be able to be inclusive to all people showing only a willingness to love and forgive, if anyone wants to admit to or has been convicted of any sin. It is more important to share the sacraments with the guilty, whom we forgive, than it is to erroneously disqualify anyone. But do not forget that Christ may have accepted sinners, but he also admonished or judged them and sent them forth with instructions to sin no more! He did not say that he alone could make such a conclusion and encouraged his apostles to continue his work with the power of the Holy Spirit to assist.
To those who want a 'feel good about yourself' church, the notion of inclusiveness and forgiveness trumps that of denial based upon the idea that sinners deserve a penalty. Worse, we set ourselves up for an endless progression of similar errors. Today the issue is to accept homosexuals and lesbians as just a meaningless subset of people who also engage in meaningful relationships by living together. Tomorrow it may be accept those in prison for murder as unfortunates who had an accident driven by their genetic heritage and circumstances that deserve only our sense of pity for the horror of having to live with the memory of such deeds, but not without our love and forgiveness.
While we may admit to our preferences against allowing known pedophiles to live in our midst, we do not hesitate to try to help our small children avoid contact while not wanting to keep those away who have a genetic predisposition to actions currently considered to be criminal.
It is one thing to accept and tolerate those who choose to live together without making such habitation require that the couple must be of opposite sexes and be married in the church. It is another to automatically award to all such the right to use the term 'marriage' in a way not intended when invented, giving a sense of propriety and acceptance not in keeping with the moral precepts of the ancients, including those mentioned in the Bible. Keep in mind that I have never heard anyone quote passages of the Bible in support of sodomy!
It is therefore, a likely circumstance now that a majority of our Convention's delegates laity and Bishops made a decision in August of 2003 that will not be accepted by the world Anglican Communion or by the rank and file of all Dioceses. The call to undo the action is not going to be heard. The modernist 'feel good about yourself' folks, full of love and forgiveness, are not going to now admit they were wrong! They fought for their point of view and won!
Why is it then that God will not intervene and change the minds of those 'out of step'? The Holy Spirit is not going to be directed by our Lord Jesus, or by God to enter into our brains (some would say hearts) and change our minds. Why not? First, I find no evidence in history that great schisms have been stopped in their tracks via Divine Intervention. Second, there is no evidence that suggests that God needs to or wants to take our free-will to make good and bad choices.
So, I expect to see the debate among those wearing the big hats continue in a manner that will lead to a new array of churches in the U.S. My guess is that a majority of laity and priests of the U.S. will be in one camp that is in step with the world wide Anglican communion; and the minority will be happy to be rid of those who are so judgmental; or will it be the other way around? I do not see any easy way to avoid the choice. It is going to be as severe a 'litmus test' as anyone could devise to qualify any Supreme Court Justice candidate.
What remains to be seen is how the two groups appeal to future members of their adult populations. Will the children follow the parents or divide over this choice of approaches to life in the church? Regrettably I am sure it will divide many families between those that recognize a strong need to make a choice.
Those that choose the inclusive decision will contend that those sticking to the ideas of the need to conform to God's perceived views on how to live are being judgmental hypocrites. I have no doubt that some in the would be law abiding and judgmental group are now and will be guilty as charged, although it seems out of character for inclusivists not to love and forgive such persons without their being considered hypocrites too!
If all could be honest with themselves and each other, they might come to the observation of admitting that we really don't know as much as we need to know to make such a choice. In fact the Bible is so far out of date and lacking in real revelation as to be needing a lot of new research, not into what was said or recorded two to five thousand years ago, but what has been learned about the God Yaweh or He that reveals himself since the time of Christ.
It may be a very scary trip to go in such a direction. What if we learn that much of our understanding is out of step with the truth. Maybe we have a lot of good ideas for the wrong reasons! If we spend more effort on trying to find out how science has helped us learn more about our place in the universe that existed for 8 billion years before our solar system came into existence, we may learn just what role God played in encouraging it to happen and to be the first extraterrestrial to visit this planet of one sun among an infinite array of them.
How and why we deserved such attention may turn out to be a very minor position, if God is able to manage to be everywhere among endless galaxies and many trillions of both living and eternal souls, at the same time. On the other hand, we may come to learn that Heaven takes up only a small corner of the Universe in which only a few stars have planets and life upon them. In such case, God may have a more special connection to this planet than to however many more may exist elsewhere.
Until we learn more about this subject and how God chose to relate to only a small number of Earthlings, we may need to study more about the question of how can we survive as a species in a world that has zealous leaders ready to use weapons of mass destruction to get our attention. One in N. Korea instructed his foreign emissary to leave Beijing after an initial conference involving six nations seeking a peaceful way to avoid ignoring a N. Korean quest for atomic bombs. He departed with words of refusal for further meetings and a promise to test a bomb to show the world that the demand for taking bribes is backed up with a serious threat.
In a way, one of the new Episcopal church groups may be prepared to appease N.Korea with endless gifts or bribe money to be called reparations perhaps. Together with expressions of love and forgiveness as well as 'mia culpas' over our guilt in having made it so tough for N. Korea in its quest to prove its communist system to be so superior. No, I don't think I want to be a part of that position.
Why not? For the same reason that my understanding of human nature tells me that men have a different way to think about sex than do women. The predator nature of many, but not all homosexuals, relates to their hormonal differences and I can accept that some, not all, have such. I can't abide the notion that I should both recognize and accept this without any concern of negative implications any more than I can accept philandering heterosexuals.
It is the same in dealing with megalomaniacs who come to lead as dictators in ways that command a regimented following out of fear of execution for non compliance. I do not believe that God wants us to surrender to such persons. Rather, I believe that God showed the early children of Abraham that freedom requires a willingness to struggle to win and to maintain it.
I suspect that few have witnessed, as I did, the fall of the Russian Empire in 1991. I was in Leningrad and Moscow and saw the 'wheels coming off'. To be able, as tourists, to enter the historic Basil church on the edge of the Kremlin wall against the order of the uniformed and armed policeman, was an 'eye opener'. Two years beforehand and either the guard would have died for failing, or I would have been shot. I noted at the time, that if the yoke of communist control fell away, and it was just days before the famous moment when Yeltsin stood on the tank and declared his call for freedom by risking his own life, a free people emerged. I said, "If the cause of freedom can last for ten years, the Russian people will never go back to the authoritatian rule of the communists".
So, it may be with the future of the Episcopal church and for many others. For, if we divide and show the world that we need to see an evolution not to the position of either group over the immediate issue at hand, but that we need to find the way to discover God's real moral compass in a way that gives it a universal appeal, regardless of the clothing, music, priestly use of mysticism, then we may find a way to achieve real global peace. Among the problems that will have to be resolved, however, are the two that my father left at the end of his unfinished book entitled, "You Can't Escape God".The first question involves the need to gain a global acceptance of individualism and freedom vs collectivist tyranny. In other words, is it up to the state to keep me or am I responsible? The second is related to it. Am I to procreate without concern for impact on the environment? Or do we need global population control via natural law or some other way? I was born in 1932 as part of the lowest birth rate in American history and birth control had not yet been invented! Yes, men and women can act responsibly. Especially when they know that nobody else is going to feed the baby!
When we have answers to these questions, we may find we have learned enough more about God to find the need for division in many churches to disappear! I think many Episcopalians will join me and share this wish. How about you?
17 years later, and this writer at age 88 realizes he will not live long enough to help all learn how to survive with climate change able and affordable with way to grow food year around almost anywhere; and also edit both my last two chapters of my father's work to give a new perspective to theological study that departs from the endless effort to find and seek approval of translation to look at the unavoidable errors and thinking of God and Son and Holy Spirit in terms of a global quest for life with a man made God! One that always dies!
There are so many versions of Christianity in terms of Churches, that it is fair to say that no perfect starting place exists. We are far past the early stages of the Apostles, and the Roman Empire's theft of Christianity. Even past the age of the Protestant Reformation. Now we are to the stage where our children see no need for faith when too much of belief depends upon faith that with God, all things are possible. Science is an enemy, when in fact, it is a needed friend.
So, we start this section with a letter to an Episcopal Priest, a.k.a. Mother Jodi. She has adopted the call of the young for "Social Justice". To many, I said, "its the only kind of Justice that matters- all else is subordinate to it!" The letter reads:
"I have only recently discovered that my short memos to ancient friends via e-mail are now called ‘memes’, at least on Facebook? Perhaps it is a sign of a ‘meme' only being a reactive thought, not a ‘memo' that reflects study and thinking and editing first?
Our grandchildren have almost all divorced their brains from Facebook. They no longer think it important to advise their internet followers of their mostly irrelevant details of the ‘meme' authored life history.
So it is, that I write this memo about today’s fearful notion that soon after several hundred years post the Ascension, the WORD tells of Jesus coming back, with a host of Angels to help sort out the chosen souls from those needing to be burned. Did the ancients finally sense pain, if their bones can finally able to climb out of graves complete with nerves to transmit a sense of being burned alive in Hell’s ovens run by slaves of the ‘Devil’ when Jesus returns?
If you are so right that our God loves us, how can it be that He needs to destroy the soul that the Scripture is contending was buried, since at least our species came into existence? Why do we love recycling, yet contend that God needs to empty our cemeteries, and burn the bodies and souls of those not perfect, so as to ultimately allow some to be promoted to what kind of Heaven? Is it only a place of better eternal rest than the Columbarium behind your pulpit? Or a way to sing perpetual praise?
You speak often of "Social Justice". Am I guilty of social injustice by working and investing to build affordable homes in which occupants can enjoy purpose of life by growing food to sell? Is it better, to subsist on food stamps, paid for, not just by taxes, but by politicians that have power to print money, until it is worth less than the paper or electronic transfer that gives debit cards new vitality?
Yes, the politically manufactured pandemic caused by a virus that is now losing its power to kill the healthy, but not to kill the spirit of those willing to take risk, is still with us. Even now, some worry that a vaccine may not eliminate a virus that can not survive without human blood to feed it. So, to eliminate all risk of needing boosters vaccine or a better T-4 cell source that kills all virus in need of our blood, do you plan to wear a mask and stay distant for however long you happen to live?
I prefer to think that all souls leave Earth when we die and that God has no need to destroy anything- just recycle in as many ways and places that an ever expanding Universe can utilize. But, my thoughts are surely heretical! Certainly more so than the actions of political activists that topple monuments and burn books of history- in hopes of allowing ignorant masses to just do as the dictating power demands, on pain of death for lack of obedience, not to our Eternal God; but to a self made Dictator, that kills all rivals to his/her (or is it ‘there’ or ‘their') power in the PC world?
BTW, if you wish to post this memo as a meme on Facebook as threatened, go ahead, with my name and number; but, be sure to also send it to a Bishop still able to ex-communicate me."
This Episcopal Mother was ordained together with her one time very large possible pro basketball player husband! By 2017 they were called to a small but well endowed Michigan Parish in a poor county with only 18,000 residents in 300 square miles of land, lakes, and summer resorts. Once a prosperous timber harvesting area and a decade before their assignment, one with as many as 450 women sewing in one building to make auto interior liners, Mthr. Jodi may now see this place as a former non-union 'sweat shop'. Summer is a short season and few wanted to lose jobs when the auto industry tumbled into bankruptcy a common fate for many firms.
We have not yet been openly political, as a Church not yet dares to be, but we are certainly expanding on our public support of mothers with babies and inadequate support from known fathers to include favorable attitudes toward some evident groups trying to create larger than real class, racial, ethnic, or other social issues with strong political connections to socialist causes and means of obtaining power to overcome perceived unfair disadvantages.
Yes, we are asking the right questions.
|Previous Chapter||Next Chapter|