We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
There’s nothing like Lent for reflecting on the sins of other people; I thought I’d start at the top — with the bishops of my own church. As the Episcopal church along with the other mainline Protestant denominations diminishes, we don’t have to look far to see bishops and leaders who are largely failing in their core assignments: to tend to the health and promote the growth of the congregations in their area. Yet even as we have fewer and fewer effective and successful leaders, we have no shortage of political, ‘prophetic’ bishops. When they can, they meet with world leaders and jet off to exotic locales to bring peace and fight for justice. When they can’t do that, they sign statements of concern, issue reports and otherwise tug on the skirts of an indifferent public seeking attention for their political views.
In the mainline churches, which is what I know best, the political views leaders express are generally those of what could be called the ‘foundation left’ — emotionally grounded in concern for the poor and development, historically linked to the ‘new left’ mix of economic and social concerns as developed in the 1960’s, shaped by an atmosphere of privilege and entitlement that reflects the upper middle class background of the educated professionals who run these institutions. The social sins they deplore are those of the right: excessive focus on capitalism, too robust and unheeding a promotion of the American national and security interest abroad, insufficient care for the environment, failure to help the poor through government welfare programs, failure to support affirmative action, failure to celebrate and protect the unrestricted right of women to abort. I am of course speaking very generally here and there are lots of individual exceptions, but many of these folks are generally tolerant of theological differences and rigidly intolerant when it comes to political differences: they care nothing at all about doctrines like predestination but get very angry with people who disagree with them about issues like global warming or immigration reform. Theological heresy is a matter for courtesy and silence, but political heretics fill them with bile.
The last church I attended regularly, United Methodist (circa 2000, sorry to say) I left when the head Pastor encouraged us, none too subtly, to vote for Al Gore. Even today, that church's main mission largely centers around the arts and diversity. The current pastor, in her blog, takes issue with Rush Limbaugh.
There's nothing Christian about it, unless you can interpret it politically.
Having grown up Roman Catholic I am amazed at how much I did not know about the Eastern Orthodox Church. No Reformation. No Vatican I. No Vatican II. No liberation theology. Tradition, liturgy and practice connect directly to 1st Century AD. No additions. No Subtractions.
Would it surprise you folks if I said that I believe the intent--the reason for bringing in politics to the church is quite simple. It has always been the intent to remove Christianity from the American scene. No more Christian churches means no more guidelines for ethical and moral behavior. Those damn 10 rules just get in everybody's way: all those teachers and government employees trying to "design a new future" can't do it with those old rules. They are such a damned nuisance don't you know!!