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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not Political Enough

The writer of a letter to the Editor of The Living Church, a magazine of the church, said the Episcopal Church has lost members because it is too political.
Here is my response.

To the Editor of The Living Church:

Over the years General Convention has passed many resolutions that are political. African-American, Women's, Lesbian and Gay rights have been supported. Issues of abortion, peace and poverty have also been debated. They all have had plenty of media attention. On the local level most parishes and even dioceses have not followed through with programs, education, sermons and articles supporting these issues or even dealing with them at all. In the recent movements toward health care reform and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, local parish discussions of these issues have been minimal, even here in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most liberal areas of the United States. Going to parish churches and reading Diocesan newspapers and on-line resources, the great issues of the day are seldom even mentioned. Recent issues of The Living Church seldom if ever recently have dealt with war and health care. When newcomers attend church they do not hear sermons or read bulletins that relate to the daily social, political and ethical issues that lay people are deeply concerned about. Church attendance has fallen off because the church appears irrelevant to the great issues of the day.

Here are some replies:

Amen. Well said. Life is political. Jesus was political. So political that the established powers had him executed. But he stood up for peace and justice. If the Episcopal Church can’t do that, it should fold its tents and cathedrals.

Sadly true. That is an excellent letter to The Dying Church. I hope they print it.

I agree. If only our church would discuss issues there'd be a lot more people there!

Indeed! And...because they don't offer solutions any better than your average nonprofit (and less effective than most). Why? Because they have failed to give themselves the only real strength and courage available -- a rich personal and communal experience of Jesus Christ -- the one who destroys the status quo. In other words, the REAL revolutionary. We will be relevant and effective in creating injustice-smashing change in direct proportion to how well we build our faith in him.

Good letter! I'm always impressed that you continue to fight the good fight. Many days I feel like giving up and moving to a cabin in the woods. I wish I live right in the neighborhood of a church I like. I do mostly enjoy the times I go to St. John's, but it is a bit geographical undesirable for me--of course, if I were more committed, I suppose that wouldn't make a difference.

People in the pews are there either because they want to follow the Path shown by Jesus on this our earthly home, or because they are seeking assurance of their place in some eternal Hereafter either of their imagining or the organized Church's proclamation. Maybe both, but we tend to lean sharply to one side or the other. The conundrum is that following along the Path might well lead to the Hereafter, but the reverse doesn't hold true. So we end up with pews filled (spottily these days) with folks who get mighty irritated because we keep insisting on exploring the Path and its demands made on us NOW.

Yes and no.

I believe that God wants us and our faith communities to be right on top of political thought and action. This could indeed make our religion more relevant and interesting to more people.

On the other hand there are many people who want their religion to be an escape from the cares and concerns of the world and would not like a politically thoughtful church. I would say that this is precisely the appeal of Roman Catholic piety and Protestant mega-church enthusiasm. Their religion's political positions are the cut-and-dried over-and-done-with old time social conventions that none of their members are invited to think about, just to angrily support.

My God, I couldn't agree more. Thank you

Thank you for the message. I find it impossible to hear a homily outside of the Calif. diocese. My experience of hearing about the real issues of the day is only heard in a more progressive church. In other words, we don't hear about the very real issues of todays living. That's why I like your homilies so much. You are truly blessed and have tremendous insight to the very real issues today.

Right on, Robert!

And, because they have, by and large, refused to deal with the serious issues around the the Articles of the Christian Faith and contemporary thought; fundamentally, does creedal theism reflect reality in any way.


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