Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Sunday, May 08, 2005


I'm still mulling over the insight that the Episcopal church today is almost exactly what progressives want the Catholic church to become. Key passage:
The problem for liberals is that their preferred path to the Catholic future has already been tried, and with less-than-encouraging results.

The Episcopal Church offers the most striking example of this phenomenon, since it would seem to embody everything that a Garry Wills or a Maureen Dowd would like Catholicism to be -- the liturgy and tradition, that is, without the sexual prohibitions and inconvenient dogmas. Yet in an era when John Paul II supposedly alienated so many otherwise faithful Catholics, it's Episcopalianism, not Catholicism, that’s been hemorrhaging members, dropping from over 3.5 million American communicants in 1965 to under 2.5 million today. Far from making itself more appealing and more relevant, the Episcopal Church's reforms seemed to have decreased its ranks in the United States.

There are really two questions I want to ask progressive Catholics. The first is some variation on, Why are you still here? Why would you choose to stay in an unsatisfying relationship, bitching loudly about your partner's refusal to change and grow along with you, when there's someone down the street who's exactly what you say you're looking for? On celibacy, on female priests, on actively gay priests (and marriages), on birth control, on abortion, on divorce ... what else is there? Is there something else you want you're not telling us?

Maybe I don't understand the lifetime commitment thing. I'm a convert myself, so changing churches is -- while certainly a big deal -- not something unthinkable. I've done it, more than once. Even now, I attend two or three parishes in the course of most weeks, and regularly sing prayers with non-Romans. Does this make me ecclesiastically promiscuous? To be sure, swimming in ecumenical waters is not a big deal to me. If you don't like the part of the pond you're in, move to another, 'k? Don't let the door hit you in the tailfin.

Maybe I'm missing something. It wouldn't be the first time (this week). But without further information I have a nagging suspicion that these are the complaints of people who would rather vent than act on their beliefs -- maybe because they're not really so deeply held, only something "in the air."

And the second question is a reality check on Douthat's "less-than-encouraging results": So how's that working out for them, hmm?

(I won't gloat over the looming Anglican schism between North and South; it's been put off for three years, at least, but I can't see any way to avoid a trainwreck, at this point. Absent overwhelming grace, of course, but that's rarely something you want to rely on coming.)

posted by Kelly | 3:42 PM link