'The Episcopal Church is a church where you can come in without leaving your brain at the door and then have the opportunity to love all of those who managed to come in with their ‘wrong’ ideas.' — The Rt Revd Leo Frade, Bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida
'We deeply love the intellectual as well as the spiritual life that is cultivated in our members (‘you don’t need to leave your mind at the door’)' – Progress Report from the Task Force for Re-Imagining the Church
Yesterday I saw these quotes pop up in two different places. As I read the report from the Task Force, I had a difficult time reading after the “mind at the door” line. I found myself thinking, “Is this what we want a reimagined Church to emphasize?”
I get what people are saying when this line is put out there – many of us come from traditions that were overly dogmatic, prescriptive, or even fundamentalist. Yet I find there to be a sad smugness to our adopting this line as a party platform.
I have chosen this Church over the Roman Church and yet I do not want my Roman Catholic family members and friends to think I chose this Church because they are all leaving their brain at the door when they go to Church.
What does this kind of message say to a single mother who goes to the local Baptist Church because they invite her and her kids to sing in the choir and to be part of the Singing Christmas Tree? What does it say to the widow who goes to the local Roman Church because it was the last place she felt real peace? What does it say to the Methodist dentist who goes there because his family has for four generations and they built the church steeple?
The Episcopal Church has enough issues with people perceiving us as a club that is not for them. Why would we perpetuate that perceived haughtiness by adding yet another perceived barrier – a lack of smarts – to coming to our churches?
As we are undertaking mission work here in Denver, one of our challenges is that there were many who can’t read English or can’t read at all. I don’t want them to ever think that this is not a place that they could call home. If the Episcopal Church wants to put up signs that say “All are Welcome” then we need to be prepared for all kinds of people to come through our doors – people who aren’t there to prove that they are smarter than other faithful people. — “You don’t have to leave your brain at the door” – Can we please stop saying this?”, The Rev’d Canon Robert Hendrickson
To define oneself as a particular kind of Anglican is to make the modifier of one’s identity - e.g., Anglo-Catholic, evangelical, liberal, etc. - more important than the base of one’s identity - i.e., Anglican. Far from the Church needing three “streams” or “parties” in order to be catholic, each “stream” or “party” must lose itself as a unique identifier and also become what it is not: the Anglo-Catholic must become evangelical and liberal while retaining its catholic coherence and roots; the evangelical must become Anglo-Catholic and liberal, while retaining its sense of the primacy of Scripture; the liberal must become Anglo-Catholic and evangelical, while retaining its sense of the need for the engagement of contemporary culture. It is Anglicanism that should modify our own particularities and peculiarities, rather than these modifying our Anglicanism. Only in this way might it be said that we have died to ourselves and that we live for one another. — Benjamin Guyer, “Theses on Anglicanism” (via voraciousexpectations)
Some recent interpreters of Jesus have further depoliticized Jesus by eliminating anything uncomfortably judgmental from the “database” of his “authentic” sayings. They claim that John the Baptist, Jesus’ mentor, was an apocalyptic prophet proclaiming judgment, and that Jesus’ immediate followers, just after his death, understood Jesus as an apocalyptic figure, the Son of Man, coming in judgment. Jesus himself, they claim, did not preach judgment. Prophetic sayings of condemnation are the later product of Jesus’ followers who became resentful about their failure and persecution. Jesus himself was thus not a prophet but rather a wisdom teacher, like the wandering Cynic philosophers in Hellenistic cities, teaching an alternative hippie-like lifestyle to a bunch of rootless nobodies. Whatever the credibility of this picture may be as a historical reconstruction, it portrays a depoliticized individual teacher uttering isolated aphorisms that pertain only to an individual counter-cultural lifestyle in no particular political-economic context and with no political implications. It is difficult to understand why the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, would have bothered to crucify such a figure. —
Richard Horsley, Jesus and Empire.
A Japanese Kirishitan crucifix, 17th century. Christ is depicted as Buddha-like, in the center of the cross. Paris Foreign Missions Society.
The true miracle, the most difficult achievement, is therefore the example and the practice of love in the spiritual sense of that word…To enter into God is to let oneself be caught up in the immense movement of the love of the trinity which reveals the other person to us as ‘neighbor’ or (and this is better) which enables each one of us to become the ‘neighbor’ of others. And to become a ‘neighbor’ is to side with Christ, since he identifies himself with every human being who is suffering, or rejected, or imprisoned, or ignored. We need only call to mind the Last Judgement scene in the Gospel according to St Matthew: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’…’Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did to me.’ — Olivier Clement, The Roots of Christian Mysticism
The disciples wanted a kingdom without a cross. Many would-be “orthodox” or “conservative” Christians in our world have wanted a cross without a kingdom, an abstract “atonement” that would have nothing to do with this world except to provide an escape from it. — N.T. Wright (via blakebaggott)
If Christian believed in the immortality of the soul and the wretchedness of human bodies, the tomb on Easter morning would not have been empty—because Jesus’ body would have remained and only his soul ascended. — Norman Wirzba, Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation (via stephanieberbec)
[The claim] that some think theological claims must be grounded in empirical proofs is based on the assumption that there is an essential tension between faith and reason. Even Christian theologians have sometimes underwritten the assumption that the faith of Christians cannot be rationally defended. However, the very presumption that reason is one thing and faith is another betrays a distorted view of reason. What Christians believe is not a “take it or leave it” choice, but rather an ongoing claim that all that is exists by God’s good grace. The working out of that claim is never finished. —
Abandoning the language of sin will not make sin go away. Human beings will continue to experience alienation, deformation, damnation and death no matter what we call them. Abandoning the language will simply leave us speechless before them, and increase our denial of their presence in our lives. Ironically, it will also weaken the language of grace, since the full impact of forgiveness cannot be felt apart from the full impact of what has been forgiven. — “Speaking of Sin” by Barbara Brown Taylor (via catechumenate)
My concern is this: too many clergy (it’s usually the clergy who are the culprits) view themselves as qualified to rewrite, reject, or reinvent liturgy for public worship. Forms of service are devised which bear no resemblance to anything Anglican. Prayers are edited to the point where they are no longer Anglican, or in some cases, even Christian. Frankly, most of us clergy aren’t as clever as we imagine when it comes to liturgy, and we should have more respect for the lay folk we serve than to inflict our own predilections on them. — Scott Gunn, here (via anachronizomai)
(Source: bethmaynard, via dick-of-saint-vick)