Saturday, 24 May 2008

Angst in DuPage County

The Diocese of Chicago is not the only body claiming to be Anglican in the environs of Chicago.

Jason Byassee has written a fascinating article in the Christian Century describing the fragmentation taking place there. The article is titled Splitting up.

There are some very interesting comments about this article, including several by its author, in Jason Byasee: Anglican angst in Illinois and Beyond at titusonenine.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 24 May 2008 at 6:43pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA
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The splitters have split, and are splitting. Color me shocked...Not.

[Let me also register my objection to Mr. Byasee's characterization of those protesting Archhomophobe Akinola's Chicago-area visit last fall as "mugging for the camera". Considering that Akinola encourages the *actual mugging* of LGBTs in Nigeria, Byasee's flippant dismissal of those resisting him, was most DISTASTEFUL.]

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 24 May 2008 at 7:13pm BST

Wheaton has long been a rock and a bastion of conservative evangelical worship, witness, and scholarly practices inside USA Bible Belt religion.

Now that the USA religious right has triumphed, at least for the time being, in taking over the Southern Baptists successfully - narrowing the ranges of Southern Baptist autonomy and internal diversity that did happen to obtain, pretty much in similar ways by confession and policing as such campaigners would redo the global Anglican communion - surely Wheaton sought other fish to fry as one religious USA species got their special brand of religion.

This sort of religious faith can only exist by fiercely trying with every ounce of its capacities to propagate itself via calling believers to be clones. The going penal confession is a great hammer and all people, situations, and possibilities simply look like gnarly nails which need just the best sort of holier-than-thou - gee dude I was an stinky sinner like you and now look I am saved, gee - pounding down.

To that extent, when Wheaton-based or Nigeria-based or anywhere-based realigning campaigners need to keep telling lies about everybody else - it may not bode well for either the body politick or the body believing. Now, who is the father and mother of lies? About queer citizens? About uppity women? About non-conservative believers? About un-believers?

Nice to hear a disavowal of trash talk from one of the current charismatic figures, but his naive belief that one can exist in essentially penal false witness condemnations of say, queer citizens or uppity women or non-conservative believers, or even unbelievers - while speaking ever so nicely of them and their alleged shortcomings and failures - well that remains odd and curious in my view. Oh well, then, I grew up in the USA Bible Belt, have heard more than plenty of it all, and you could fairly say I am too used to it. After a good while of hearing lies and innuendo preached against you as this or that sort of penal atonement defined sinner, you get numbed out by that very cloned penal atonement message. Does Wheaton know anything else? Will big tent Anglicanism know anything else?

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 6:54pm BST

As pointed out by some of those "on the ground", the divisions aren't so divided. E.g., All Souls - Wheaton has an AMiA priest and one under Bolivia and just had Bp Harvey of ANiC perform their first confirmation service. Also, Church of the Resurrection has ~700 in attendance and they just bought property to build a facility that will hold 1500. Compare this to the 9% drop in membership of the diocese of Chicago from 2003 to 2006 and an average Sunday attendance drop of 10.3% in the same time period. (http://tinyurl.com/68g9hw)

Dr Danfee's "big tent", which isn't big enough to contain Forward in Faith/Anglo-catholics or evangelicals like J.I. Packer, will soon be a pup tent especially when the new Anglican province of North America is established.

Posted by: robroy on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 11:24am BST

Boy, robroy, talk'in tough! So why don't you all build new facilities everywhere and get on with attracting all those people you're going to get, instead of throwing money at lawyers to steal what isn't yours to begin with?

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 5:12pm BST

I am currently reading American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips. In one early chapter, he discusses how American Christianity has always been about the decline of the "centrist" denominations (whatever they might be in any one period) and the growth of schismatic sects.

Here's a relevant paragraph:

"The religous history of the United States...rests heavily on sectarian emotion and revival--a process under way since the eighteenth century, in which churches become establishmentarian, 'compromise their "errand into the wilderness" and then...lose their organizational vigor, eventually to be replaced by less wordly groups, whereupon the process is repeated." (page 107)

IOW, there's nothing new going on here. In time, the "new" Anglicans will find themselves beset by some group that wants to purify them, and so on and so on.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 6:21pm BST

Rather than lose a struggle about change in church life, conservatives apparently have opted to try to change the game. Changing the game worldwide is precisely the goal. Engaging Anglican hot buttons are only a passing means to that larger end. Homosexuality has been quite useful. Maybe WO is at least partly useful, too? Modernity as nothing but a danger and a problem has been useful, too?

This new game aims to roundly displace the substantive intellectual aspects of our typical hot button Anglican issues, because the problem is that hot buttons can be viewed from more than one modern best practice angle.

The new conservative game aims at shifting all that multiple angles best practice practice, so that conservativism becomes the only intellectual and church life game in town. If all goes well, we shall play this conservative game, and only this closed game.

Why? Because it is presuppositionally tilted in advance in favor of its own conservative conclusions.

One good new game strategy is emotional. Proponents of no change rather deftly strum on deep and strong sensorimotor images and narratives, at least up to a point.

Believe radically in your own unique righteousness as conservative. A corollary is an awful, icky-fied sense of the smelly stain all non-conservatives must now bear regardless.

We have just stopped focusing on particular hot button issues which demand to be viewed carefully from multiple best practice modern angles. Instead, we are now caught up about what is innately and terribly wrong with everybody who is not righteously conservative.

We are also worried, if we are paying attention.

If we ask a conservative Anglican believer to explore and understand any alternative believer view, any comparative modern view, we are asking them to inordinately sully and despoil themselves, before God nonetheless. Suddenly, multiple best practice modern angles on hard things involve the danger of committing a terrible sacred violation.

A very smelly violation.

Only a very insensitive person would ask that, don't you think?

See how nicely we are playing a redefined game?

We are no longer talking about cooties? Fair change procedures? Grounds for change compared to the grounds for not changing?

Many other strategies apply - A typical collection of new game strategies. We who are not conservative can learn to see them and talk about them openly, every time we are rushed to play the new game.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 6:24pm BST

"Dr Danfee's "big tent", which isn't big enough to contain Forward in Faith/Anglo-catholics or evangelicals like J.I. Packer, will soon be a pup tent especially when the new Anglican province of North America is established."

And it's this perceived loss of influence that bothers you, right. I mean, you are obviously not concerned about failure to reach society with the message, or else you'd be interested in finding ways to actually do that. Instead, you congratulate yourself that conservatives are banding together to revile and judge everyone else, while all around them society blithely goes on about its business, unconcerned about the condemnation heaped on it by a some members of a religion who not only don't practice what their religion preaches, but can't seem to understand that this failure to live by the principles of the faith is robbing that faith of all credibility. Such, I guess, is the attractiveness of judgementalism. I've asked before, what's the going salary for Judgement Seat warmer? I'd like to be able to bill for services in that regard this morning.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 2:28pm BST

"Believe radically in your own unique righteousness as conservative."

drdanfee, by and large I agree with you, but the above statement is unnecessarily restrictive. Liberals are just as radically convinced of their own unique righteousness as conservatives.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 4:09pm BST

We know that Chicago's shrinkage is due mostly to low birthrate, as Episcopalians generally have 1.3 children per couple and replacement is 2.1.

I have to wonder how much of that growth that roboy is talking about is from Christians switching congregations and how much are really converting "the heathen", so to speak. I used to move in evangelical circles and know that most of the growth I saw in churches was the already-Christian looking for a new and different experience.

Looking at overall stats for conservative churches, their growth isn't much better than liberal ones. The Roman Catholic church has lost a greater percentage of practising Catholics over the past 30 years than the TEC has, and major evangelical denominations, like the Southern Baptist Convention have themselves plateaued and started to decline.

The fastest growing religious body in North America is the formerly-Christian. They have heard both liberal and conservative expressions of the faith and find either compelling. Instead of playing the numbers game against each other, perhaps we should ask why most of the population doesn't like either.+

Posted by: toujoursdan on Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 4:30pm BST
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