The Church is not about “winning” or “losing” (your language, not mine). I fully believe in the Episcopal Church as a big-tent movement and am committed to it remaining so. One part of that big-tent, though, covers those of us who believe in the creeds without any finger-crossing, and that voice needs to be heard and taken into account.
Yes, the broader church will often ignore what we say because the Anglo-Catholic side has historically been guilty of oppressing and suppressing women and those not in the closet. And the irony of that position is that there were more closeted gay priests in the Anglo-Catholic movement than probably anywhere else in the Episcopal Church put together. The points that I’m making here are these: 1) those of us who do identify as catholic within today’s Episcopal Church need to commit ourselves to fully including LGBT folk, women, and children. I bring this up because I’m addressing an issue I see in my own community. (You may not be seeing it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.) In my experience, there are gay-friendly churches who still limit and suppress the legitimate ministries of women and children. 2) It’s not enough for us to act in these ways, we also need to communicate it broadly so that we can no longer be dismissed because of the sins of our fathers 50 years ago that we have since put behind us. 3) Welcoming women to the altar (as with St Paul’s K Street) is a strong visible step forward, but is not sufficient to say that women—and children—have been fully included.
You haven’t seen these things? I’m not surprised. You’re not an Anglo-Catholic father of two daughters married to a female priest. This situation gives me a very useful perspective from which to observe and comment upon my own community (which is what I’m doing…). I never understood sexism in the church until I was married to M and heard, saw, and experienced the sexism that she did and continues to encounter; I never reflected thoughtfully from an informed perspective on the place of children in church until I had my own.
Is the issue of children in church an issue throughout the church? Most certainly. But an important difference between my community and others is our understanding of the Eucharist. If Communion is just a time to think pleasant thoughts about Jesus while we have a snack together, than kids may well be better served somewhere else coloring pictures of Bible stories. In my theology, though, the Eucharist is the rite through which the whole gathered community most fully embodies myriad and multiple aspects of the Body of Christ as we bring together the mystical, social, eschatological, and sacramental Bodies of Christ into one shared experience. If the children are not there they miss something important; if they’re not there, we miss something important too: the Body of Christ is visibly diminished at the point where we are attempting to enact it most fully.
That deals with the points that I was raising in my previous post. Now, I do need to address a piece of baggage that you felt the need to insert (that I neither said nor intended) and which perfectly illustrates the kind of projection that hapens when an Anglo-Catholic speaks up.
You wrote in your comment:
Maybe if Anglo-Catholics stopped holding themselves out as practicing a superior version of the faith, they’d face less discrimination; I don’t know. . . . Instead, what I see denomination-wide is that the Catholic movement has won (but thinks they haven’t), thanks by and large to the rubric in the ’79 Prayer Book mandating the Eucharist as the principal Sunday service. . . . Meanwhile the “evangelical wing” has been thoroughly routed and/or has walked out. We are all catholic now, we are all evangelical, and thanks be to God. . . . It’s true that Derek and I disagree about the usefulness of pious add-ons (my term) to the liturgy, and that TEC as a whole will never adopt them for general use *unless they appear in the Prayer Book.* But as I survey all the changes in this Church in the last 40 years, in which Protestors have moved almost entirely to the Catholic side, I’m astonished at the persistence of these distinctions, as if the Catholic movement cannot rest until every pious add-on has been adopted by every last one of us. . . . Can Catholics never simply declare victory and throw a party? Apparently not; it really is about all those pious add-ons now, isn’t it. Anything to continue dividing us.
So—I post about making sure that my community is including children in worship and suddenly it becomes “Derek wants to make Josh say prayers to Mary.” Really? What a fascinating reaction…
First off, weekly communion is not a “Catholic” thing, it’s an “Anglican” thing. The celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays and Holy Days was the pattern laid down by both the English 1549 BCP and the English 1662 which has since formed a template for most of the rest of the Anglican Communion. Whether these patterns were actually followed is another thing entirely, but to call them “Catholic” rather than “Anglican” is to misrepresent our Anglican origins.
Therefore, and second, the fact of a weekly Communion does not mean “the Catholic movement has won” as you put it. The Disciples of Christ (some background here) have weekly communion; are they therefore “Catholic”? You have fallen into a conventional mistake of confusing ritual with theology. Just because a church does a certain thing does not establish what they believe about it. I would suggest that since the convergence of the Ecumenical Movement and the Liturgical Renewal Movement the broad middle portion of the Episcopal church has adopted a number of practices that were seen a century ago as “Catholic”—but that does not mean that the beliefs of these Episcopalians have changed or that they hold to the catholic theologically grounded logic of why some things are done and not others. Indeed, this is a key to our big-tent system: we can participate in the same liturgies yet understand them and what we do in them in some very different ways.
Third, I care not one whit whether you or anyone else uses “pious add-ons.” I use some of them because they feed me spiritual. I have no interest in imposing them on anyone else. You’ll note that they are entirely optional in my edition of the Offices. I’ll even go out on a limb and wager that the catholic movement as a whole doesn’t care if you use them or not. Your knee-jerk assumption about my agenda says more about you than me.
What do I care about? Resurgent Arianism in the church really bothers me; approval and promotion of teachers who suggest that Jesus was just an enlightened revolutionary teacher rather than God Incarnate bothers me. Casual modalism bothers me. Indeed, causual modalism implying that Jesus has no role as Creator or Sanctifier further reinforces Arian tendencies. Insidious Gnosticism and the notion that the faith is about an individual’s intellectual assent to a set of ideas rather than the communal living of embodied beliefs bothers me. Disconnecting the sacraments from a life of discipleship bothers me. The Eucharist is a sacrificial meal of reconciliation that draws us deeper into our baptismal vows and commitments. It is a sign of and for the baptized community and those who wish to receive it should be invited into the community through the font. Concerns about Christology have real, practical, pastoral implications; sacramental theology matters in how we see God at work in the world around us. This isn’t a “superior version of the faith”—it’s the faith as we’ve been taught it. I have a duty to teach it to my children and, by extension, to have confidence that the other members of the church who are teaching my children hold it too.