No thesis here, just some dot-connecting…
Something is pinging my brain about leadership, identity, who the Church is, who the movers-and-shakers in the Church are or ought to be, and generational vision. As you can see, this is a pretty amorphous mass! But I do want to put a few things in conversation with one another.
The first is Fr. Tim Schenck’s post Generation to Generation that fusses with generations in the Church and generations in leadership. It, too, seems to me to be an act of noticing rather than a thesis about the nature of generations and generational conflict in and around church leadership.
Another is today’s Daily Episcopalian from George Clifford on clergy as professional revolutionaries. I see this piece as an example of a certain deeply-held generational perspective of what it means to do and be Church. The opinions and perspectives expressed here exemplify a stereotype (well on its way to being a caricature) of an aging, politically liberal leadership that seems to hold creeds, theology, and spirituality loosely but holding politics tightly. (And, perhaps, a way to retain clericalism while stripping the role of anything clerical!)
And, of course, as I type this, I perceive my own bias in my reflection…
My sense is that, for Fr. Clifford and others of his ilk, they would heartily disagree with my phrasing and would insist that political action IS a spiritual act—indeed, is THE spiritual act.
Akin to this is the baffled Facebook post from the Cafe over the weekend that could not comprehend why a Cafe piece on Evensong was being shared multiple times but one on racism wasn’t.
Contrast that with Fr. Hendrickson on the eucharistic character of the Church. If I said that George’s piece represents a stereotype of a very visible perspective of a certain generational slice, I could say a similar thing about Robert’s… For Robert, Eucharist is THE spiritual act.
It’s easy to take these positions, harden them, and oppose them to one another. I don’t want to do that. I think we will be making a grave error for the Church if we do it or let others do it to us. What I am seeing here are two different theologies with their own spiritual implications. And there need not be as much distance between them as some would try to create. See, for instance, Robert’s reflection on the Harvard Black Mass that touches on matters near and dear to the political. And yet to say that they’re just two sides of the same coin doesn’t feel right either.
Two theologies, two generations. I don’t think they’re necessarily correlated, but I do wonder what the trend balance is.