Star Wars, Wolves, Gaia and that GetReligion bias

Wolves5_1” … in Communion with the U.S. rebel alliance and not the empire based in the denominational headquarters in New York City?”

Well, we now know where Terry Mattingly stands on the issue. The conservatives who don’t want gays to be accepted as clergy are the “rebel alliance” fighting against the evil progressive “empire”. Don’t try to wiggle out of this one, you know as well as any kid growing up with “Star Wars” that those are value-laden statements. …

In the end it makes this non-Christian think that Christians are far more concerned with who wants to have sex with who than the far more pressing issues going on in the world today. Isn’t there a verse in the Bible about taking the plank out of your own eye? Hey in fact that could be a great title for a series of talks… “Taking the plank out of your own eye for the straight guy”

Posted by: Jason Pitzl-Waters | September 30, 2004 09:38 AM

Ah, you know where Terry Mattingly stands on what issue?

I don’t think many readers of this blog (or The Revealer or several other online forums) would be shocked to know that I am a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy and a highly Orthodox guy, in the traditional, creedal sense of the word. That question was answered a long time ago. And if anyone is interested in knowing some of my personal views on trends in the Episcopal Church, they are welcome to read a lengthy essay I wrote more than a decade ago (for an editor named Doug LeBlanc) entitled “Liturgical Dances With Wolves.”

That essay opens with a “Missa Gaia (Earth Mass)” at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, complete with chants by timber wolves, a humpback whale (taped, not live) singing the Sanctus, a sermon by Carl Sagan and a liturgical procession featuring an elephant, a camel, a vulture, a swarm of bees in a glass frame, a bowl of blue-green algae and an elegantly decorated banana. Before the bread and wine were brought to the altar, the musicians chanted:

OBA ye Oba yo Yemanja
Oba ye Oba yo O Yemanja
Oby ye Oba yo O O Ausar
Oba ye Oba yo O Ra Ausar

Right, those are prayers to Ra and the pagan gods of Egypt and several other ancient zip codes.

Many of my views on Episcopal Church issues are right there in that piece. Feel free to read and cheer or jeer. However, none of this directly relates to the subject of the post being criticized. My point was to say that journalists covering the ongoing sex wars in the Anglican Communion must strive to cover this as both an American story about a split in the liberal Episcopal Church and as a global story about a split in the much, much larger (and statistically rather conservative) Anglican Communion.

I know a few J.I. Packer-hugging journalists in the mainstream press (I will decline to out any of them) who have sustained long careers covering both sides of this dispute with great accuracy and fairness. I can say precisely the same thing of some mainstream religion-beat professionals who embrace the Gaia School of Liturgy. There are skilled, committed journalists with a wide range of beliefs who do admirable work on this complex and difficult beat. May their tribe increase.

The goal is more voices in newsrooms, more diversity and more intellectual resources.

And, yes, reporters who dare to hang out with traditional Episcopalians will find that they tend to see their lives in terms of a “Star Wars” dynamic. Not that they are pantheists, or anything. Of course, at the global level its the traditionalists who are the new empire and the progressive clergy are the rebels. That’s the whole point.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://www.joe-perez.com/weblog.htm Joe Perez

    Thanks for the heads-up on the continuing dialogue, Terry. Leaving aside Jason’s criticisms of your post, I’ve chimed in with reflections on your Dances with Wolves essay on the Gay Spirituality blog (see Trackback link above).

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