Would it make any difference if I told you that, as of this morning, I'm a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party and therefore reliably positioned to make the call?
Good. Because it really would be bollocks, wouldn't it?
I mean, any jackass can say he's a liberal--even have a membership in the Liberal Party--and not actually be a liberal.
All you'd need do to find out if I really was a liberal would be to peruse the last five or six of the posts below; whereupon, one assumes, you'd snort and say something really witty like, "Yeah and I'm Mother Teresa, chowderhead. How's about you, me, and that cigar store Indian start a rock band called The Blue Nazis?"
And I would totally understand your doing this.
So maybe you'll understand my reaction when H.E. Baber--self-styled "Episcopalian" (that is "Anglican")--gets to spanking about the state of her church.
What, as a church, you mean? As opposed to, well, nothing. --Sorry, sorry; you were saying:
Clergy will likely write off these comments as ignorant or short-sighted. [Well, they won't now, or else they'll have fallen into your cunning trap! Well played! --ed.] The church, they will note, is not merely a collection of congregations that maintain buildings and do liturgy. Through most of its history, the church has been a transnational institution, under the oversight of bishops, meeting in councils to establish doctrine and policy. It engages with the world and provides moral guidance to its members.
My question however is whether the institutional church should be operating in this way.
Aaaaaahhhhhhhh! What? What, what, WHAT?!--
Members of the Episcopal church are highly educated and well-informed. There is no reason why they should look to the church for moral guidance. As for prophetic proclamation and witness to the world, the church's efforts are pointless. Christendom is over: the world does not recognise the Anglican communion as a moral authority and pays no attention to its statements on matters of public concern.
Trained professionals operating under the auspices of secular institutions study social, political and economic issues. Government and secular non-profits provide social services and concern themselves with economic development, peace and justice, the environment and human rights. There is no reason why the Anglican communion should maintain an additional institutional structure to engage in these activities. Institutional structure doesn't come cheap and it would be far more efficient if Christians worked through existing secular organisations.(Gurgling sounds.)
When it comes to establishing doctrine, I doubt that most Anglicans, if they are honest, seriously believe that anything of importance hangs on theological correctness ... Laypeople who see church as nothing more than a local congregation, which maintains a building, provides Sunday services and rites of passage, and functions as a venue for community activities are not short-sighted. They are right. The institutional church has nothing else of interest to offer its members or anyone else that isn't provided by secular organisations.... Eesh. Well, while she may play one on TV, H.E. Baber is neither an Anglican nor is she (as her bio claims) a scholar.
But let's just see if we can get this straight:
1) The Anglican Church is "a transnational institution, under the oversight of bishops, meeting in councils to establish doctrine and policy" that "engages with the world and provides moral guidance to its members." (Note: apparently eternal salvation falls under the catch-all "moral guidance".)
Baber suggests that if only the Anglican Church would stop doing those things, then people would recognize that it serves none of those ends.
2) The Anglican Church would be well-advised to abandon its own outreach programs and serve their secular equivalents, because there is absolutely no difference between the two, given premise 1).
3) "Most" Anglicans have no interest in "theological correctness". Which is to say, most Anglicans have no interest in being Anglicans. Therefore aren't Anglicans; therefore the Anglican Church does not exist. Therefore the Anglican Church has no business claiming to exist.
4) (Which, chronologically, should've come between 1 and 2--but which is the best, and is therefore saved for last ... ) Anglicans are "highly educated" and "well-informed". What makes Anglicans highly educated and well-informed is a species of, apparently, uniquely Anglican apophasis: i.e. they are highly educated and well-informed to the extent that their education and information exclude anything that might be considered "Anglican". It is, therefore, in Anglicanism's best interests, and most consistent with its Christian duty, that it acknowledge to the world that, erm, "Christendom is over". The "world", after all, does not acknowledge its moral authority, and therefore it cannot have any. (Securus judicat orbis terrarum.)
Fantastic! And I hope Ms. Baber will understand the compliment when I say that she has come to replace the God that I--as an Anglican--would never have been such a bumpkinish bore as to have believed in in the first place.
What's worth noting, though, is that I don't think I know a single atheist as terrified of using the name of Jesus Christ as Baber apparently is. Heck, many of them even know that He has something to do with Anglicanism.
Anyway ... I'm off to OXFAM to get me some Communion.
ADDENDUM (Aug. 18th)
Publius gives us the atheist's take on Christian atheists such as H.E. Baber.