Druids and goddesses and Episcopalians, oh my

midsummerdruids.jpgEvery now and then, a religion story breaks out online that truly defies a quick and easy blog report. This is certainly the case with the slap-fest that is taking place between our friends at the Christianity Today blog and the trailblazing liturgists at the Episcopal Church’s Office of Women’s Ministries.

To get up to speed on the amazing story of the little neo-pagan Eucharist that could, start with Ted Olsen’s initial reporting at the CT blog. Read it all. There is no way for me to crunch this story down into a few paragraphs, but I can at least let you see the most explosive summary statement. And note that Ted Olsen absolutely nails the larger global story here, the larger story that we will have to look for in the mainstream media. That is, we can look for it once the mainstream media finishes with John Kerry and George Bush and realizes that the front lines in the bitter Anglican sex war may have moved. Here is how the story begins:

Imagine for one moment that you’re a leader in the Episcopal Church USA. You know that within the next few days, a global commission is going to release a report on how the global Anglican Communion should respond to your church, and is likely to be critical of the ordination of an actively homosexual man as bishop. You know, and have said yourself, that the debate isn’t just about sexuality: It’s about how one views the Bible. And you know that all eyes will be on your denomination over the next few weeks. What do you do?

What the real leaders of the Episcopal Church did was to take an action that makes ordaining a homosexual man as a bishop almost a non-issue. They started promoting the worship of pagan deities. This is not a joke nor an overstatement. In all truth and seriousness, leaders of the Episcopal Church USA are promoting pagan rites to pagan deities.

These sentences were written an eternity ago, in blogosphere terms. So much has happened since then, including the church’s establishment lashing out at Christianity Today, a magazine with a staff that is more than a few people who fluently speak the lingo of Episcopalians and even neo-feminists. It also should be noted that the main links to the controversial liturgy have — surprise — suddenly gone dead. But the printable version is still over here on another page. That’s where you will find all kinds of interesting images, such as:

“Blessed are you, Mother God, for the fertility of this world. We thank you for the sight and scent of flowers, for the way their shape evokes in us the unfolding of our own sexuality, and for their power to remind us of the glory and the impermanence of physical beauty. May our days of blossoming and of fading be days spent in your presence.”

Dipping her fingers into the bowl of salt water, one of the women says, “Sisters, this is the water of life. From the womb of the sea, Mother Earth brought forth life. From the womb waters of our own bodies our children are born. In the womb shaped fonts of our churches, we are baptized into community. This is the water of life.” Touching the water again, she continues. “This, too, is the water of our tears. Our power to weep is an expression of God’s love in and through us. We weep in sorrow for that which we have lost. We weep in anger for the pain of others. We weep in hope of healing and wholeness, and we weep in joy when our hearts are too full to contain our feelings.”

Dipping her fingers in the water, each traces a tear on the cheek of the woman beside her saying, “Remember, sister, tears are the water of life.”

That’s really old by now. Journalists should print out a copy quick for the files before that vanishes as well.

The Anglican blogosphere is all over this, especially the conservative heavy hitters here and here, the digital turf of Dr. Kendall Harmon and the amazing Canadian Anglican Web Elves (don’t ask). And CT continues to fight on, especially with this long and very detailed report.

There is so much to report, from the work of the Episcopal priest named Bill Melnyk, who is the same person as the Druid leader Oakwyse, and his neo-pagan partner Glispa, who is also the Rev. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk — the woman who helped steer the feminist Eucharistic rite onto the Episcopal website in the first place. And the roots of some of these rites run back to their work with the modern druid clan called Tuatha de Brighid and perhaps, via some raisin cakes (it’s a long story) to the ancient goddess Asherah, the female counterpart to Baal.

Rites that connect to Baal worship are generally frowned on in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Like I said, we will have to see how the mainstream press handles this story, if it does. Watch the unusual interfaith evangelism forums, such as Beliefnet.com and the award-winning religion pages of the Dallas Morning News.

This story is moving rapidly, but keep clicking and hang on.

Let me close with two observations.

The first is that this story is old, old, old in several ways. After all, it has been more than a decade since I witnessed an Episcopal diocesan bishop lead a Eucharist that included this chant:

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

Praises to Obatala, ruler of the Heavens
Praises to Obatala, ruler of the Heavens
Praises to Yemenja, ruler of the waters of life
Praises to Yemenja, ruler of the waters of life
Praises to Ausar, ruler of Amenta, the realm of the ancestors
Praises to Ra and Ausar, rulers of the light and the resurrected soul.

– From the printed worship booklet for “Liturgy and Sermon, Earth Mass — Missa Gaia,” distributed on Oct. 3, 1993, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

And second, it was just a few days ago that the bookish Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright said that the key to the splintering of the Anglican Communion is that there are issues even more important than the redefinition of the Sacrament of Marriage and the blessing of same-sex unions. What happens if Anglican Christians start worshipping other gods? Will they still be Christians? Remember, Wright said:

The critical thing is there are some differences which would divide the church. For instance, if somebody decided to propose that instead of reading the Bible in church, we should read the Bhagavad-Gita or the Qur’an, most Christians would say this is no longer a church and that’s a difference that we simply cannot live with.

I also believe that the Decalogue in the modernized Book of Common Prayer continues to contain these words:

God spake these words, and said: I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods but me. Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

You can bet the farm on the fact that the worship of other gods, by name, is frowned upon in the growing Anglican churches of Africa and Asia, tense regions in which doctrinal clashes between Christianity and pagan religions are not taken lightly. It may be trendy for hip American clerics to experiment with the worship of ancient gods and goddesses from Africa. But African Christians will not be amused.

If the Episcopalians have decided to drop, edit or re-refine the Decalogue, those of us who cover the Godbeat/godsbeat will really have a story on our hands.

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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.

  • Rod Dreher

    “Oakwyse”? “Glispa”? Are they serious?

    This is why I cannot take these would-be pagan types seriously. They tend to give themselves twerpish names that makes one want to ask them how many hit points they have.

  • Andy Crouch

    Great summary, Terry. I can understand why you passed quickly over the raisin cakes, but they really are the heart of the story, as Ted Olsen lays out very clearly. The “raisin cakes” section of the rite directly, explicitly refers to a scene in Jeremiah where, as you point out, worship of Baal’s consort is not taken very well by YHWH. So this isn’t just a random neo-pagan liturgy–it’s an explicitly anti-biblical neo-pagan liturgy. Written by an Episcopal priest. That’s where it goes beyond even beyond chants to African gods, which is quite an achievement!

  • http://wyclif.net/lollardy/ Daniel Stoddart

    Terry, I noticed you left out the “affirming our menstruation” part of this rite, probably as a matter of good taste. Read the entire rite and note its pantheism.

    Ageing Baby Boomers seem to be really keen on this sort of thing. Not only is it idolatry, but it’s also an instransigent refusal to grow up.

  • http://wyclif.net/lollardy/ Daniel Stoddart

    Oh, by the way, if you happen to be an Episcopalian reader, when you write, email, or call Bishop Charles Bennison, under whose authority and spiritual care Bill Melnyk serves, make sure you ask him why he kicked parishes like St. John’s, Huntingdon Valley (now in The Anglican Mission in America under the Diocese of Rwanda) out of their buildings for doing shocking things like using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and refusing to commune Bennison after he denied the divinity of Christ.

    http://www.toknowchrist.org/pressrelease2.html

    The Diocese of Pennsylvania web site is:

    http://www.diopa.org/diopa/

    You can make your opinions known to Bishop Bennison by contacting him at:

    240 South 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

    Ph. 215/627-6434 FAX 215/627-7550

  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    The mainstream press WILL be handling this story.

  • http://radongas.blogspot.com M Burke

    After Spong, what do you want?

  • Will Linden

    Well, M. Wingate, I would not make any bets that the MSM will pay any attention to this (with the possible exception of full-time Godbeat writers) instead of continuing to focus on sex-sex-sex.

  • giblets

    “If the Episcopalians have decided to drop, edit or re-refine the Decalogue, those of us who cover the Godbeat/godsbeat will really have a story on our hands.”

    What’s with this “the Episcopalians?” I thought you, Terry Mattingly, were an Episcopalian. And the average Episcopalian/Anglican like myself still do not chant the praises of Asherah on a Sunday. Maybe you should stop over-generalizing in your zeal to make the liberal Episcopalian hierarchy look nefarious.

    It’s just some ninnies posting idiotic things on the Internet, not a full-scale official revision of the BCP or human sacrifices carried on by Rowan Williams, OK? Not much of a story.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    I was an Episcopalian, on the longer path to the Orthodox faith. I am a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.

    Who said that all Episcopalians do this? I appears to be limited to some priests, who are in good standing with bishops, backed by quiet groups in bureaucracies and seminaries, etc. Not large in numbers, but Episcopalians in good standing.

    And in a Church that claims Catholic orders, that matters.

    A question: What would happen in the archbishop of Nigeria demanded a fax from the US presiding bishop in which he renounced the worship of other gods at ECUSA altars?

    Would Griswold do it? All he has to say is that the Decalogue stands. No finger crossing. We will not worship other gods by name.

    Let’s say that all the African bishops request this during their meeting right now.

    Maybe they call up the London Times to give it the exclusive.

    Might be a story.

  • giblets

    Well, you’re right, THAT would be a story. I hope to God that Griswold would agree with them in an instant…

    …but then again, he might not.

    Sigh. Now you’ve got me worried.

  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog.html Jason Pitzl-Waters

    “This is why I cannot take these would-be pagan types seriously. They tend to give themselves twerpish names that makes one want to ask them how many hit points they have.”

    On behalf of the Pagans let me politely and respectfully tell you to get stuffed.

    In many cases these “twerpy” names protect us from getting our children taken away, descrimination at the workplace and ongoing harassment from those poor misunderstood evangelicals.

  • Rod Dreher

    So dude, how many hit points do you have?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Brandt:

    Oh, what would shock me — as a journalist — is candor.

    What you get is the old silence and dismissive wave of the hand routine. This is why the press may opt out of this story.

    But the Africans would finally have an answer.

    If you put a resolution up in the ECUSA House of Bishops stating that the church will forbid the worship of other gods at its altar, the resolution would be tabled and never seen again.

    That motion to TABLE would need to be done with a roll call.

    That would tell you everything that you need to know.

    It’s all about integrity and candor.

  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog.html Jason Pitzl-Waters

    “So dude, how many hit points do you have?”

    Are you so out of touch that D&D jokes are the best you can do? I mean that game peaked in popularity about twenty years ago.

    Also I’m amazed that no one has pointed out that the Archbishop of Canterbury himself is a Druid!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2138793.stm

  • http://god-of-small-things.blogspot.com Bob Smietana

    Weblog is now noting that Charles Bennison, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, has issued a statement about the druids/priest in his diocese

    Here are two quotes from the statement:

    –At the same time, it’s imperative to ensure that the Revs. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk and William Melnyk are treated fairly and not victims of a `where there’s smoke, there’s fire` mentality, he said.

    –`I will not allow this situation to turn into a witch-hunt of any sort.`

    Last I checked, ” where there’s smoke there’s fire” was common sense, not a dangerous mindset. Giving that these priests are self-described Druids, wouldn’t a “witch hunt” be appropriate. Or at least a “witch investigation”?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    JASON:

    Sure, why not….

    http://tmatt.gospelcom.net/column/2002/07/31/

    In the halls of Anglican power, the leader of the tiny Church of Wales is respected for his skill at blending theology and poetry into sermons that are both impressive and mysterious.

    Archbishop Rowan Williams has been called brilliant, charming, “turbulent,” mystical, humble, brave and witty — a true ecclesiastical chameleon. His own website trumpets his “radical views” on sexuality and church-state relations in England.

    The 52-year-old Welshman speaks seven languages, has taught at Oxford and Cambridge universities, but has never led a local parish. He has praised “The Simpsons” and blasted the Walt Disney Co. He is a pacifist pro-lifer who has attacked America’s war or terrorism. He will soon be inducted into the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards, donning a white robe and headdress while other druids chant prayers at sunrise to the ancient god and goddess of their land.

    Oh yes, and Prime Minister Tony Blair has chosen Williams as the 104th archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the world’s 70 million Anglicans. He follows Archbishop George Carey, a soft-spoken evangelical.

    “Recent months and recent weeks have been a very strange time,” Williams said, when his long-rumored appointment became official. “It’s a curious experience to have your future discussed, your personality, childhood influences and facial hair solemnly examined in the media and opinions you didn’t know you held expounded on your behalf.”

    Williams has lived a charmed life, performing feats of verbal alchemy before legions of clergy and academics. Now his every word will be studied under a microscope as he leads a global communion that is bitterly divided — primarily between First World liberals and Third World conservatives — on issues of sex and biblical authority.

    For example, consider an essay entitled “The Body’s Grace.” In it, Williams questioned traditional definitions of “sexual fidelity,” sharply criticizing conservatives who would attempt to “legalize” such a term. Sexual bonds can lead to spiritual transformation, even in relationships outside of marriage.

    “The realities of our experience in looking for such possibilities suggest pretty clearly that an absolute declaration that every sexual partnership must conform to the pattern of commitment or else have the nature of sin and nothing else is unreal and silly,” he wrote. While many worry about the impact of this viewpoint on Christian morality, “more damage is done … by the insistence on a fantasy version of heterosexual marriage as the solitary ideal.”

    Another passage would certainly provoke strong debate at any ecumenical gathering, especially with its sharp attack on traditional Catholic teachings on natural law.

    “In a church which accepts the legitimacy of contraception,” wrote Williams, “the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts, or on a problematic and non-scriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentiation without regard to psychological structures.”

    Thus, Williams voted against a 1998 resolution at the global Lambeth Conference stating that sex outside of marriage is “incompatible with scripture” and urging a ban on same-sex unions and the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals. The vote was 526 bishops in favor, with 70 opposed and 45 abstentions.

    Williams defends same-sex relationships and has ordained a non-celibate gay. This is awkward since there are 45,000 Anglicans in Wales and, by way of contrast, 15 million in Nigeria.

    The moral innovations Williams advocates are “not going to resonate with millions of Anglicans in Africa and Asia,” said Canon Bill Atwood of the Ekklesia Society, a global network of Anglican conservatives. “It’s fascinating to me that people can so easily dismiss what the church has believed throughout the ages. It’s pretty arrogant.”

    Meanwhile, Anglicans on the other side of this doctrinal divide are celebrating and facing the future with new optimism.

    “For the first time lesbian and gay Anglicans can feel that they have a real friend at Lambeth. No longer will we need to feel shut out of the heart of the church,” said the Rev. Richard Kirker of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

    “The new archbishop’s intellect is outstanding. He will apply intellectual rigor to the deliberations of the church. There will be no woolly thinking in a church led by Rowan Williams. Homophobia will be challenged and intolerance rooted out.”

  • http://www.ird-renew.org Faith

    Actually, Terry, the initial reporting came from IRD, just like the old Re-Imagining Days. Erik Nelson started the ball rolling by sending out the ENS press release and the liturgy, and I made the connections between the Episcopal version and the Druids. We’ve got a story on the IRD web site.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    FAITH:

    I saw a reference to an IRD root, but could not find the original URL.

    Can you post that for us, for those who want all the documentation on the story of this story?

  • Rod Dreher

    There’s no need for a witch hunt. The witches have been located.

    By following the link Terry provided, I found the following quotation from Father Bill “OakWyse” Melnyk, from some sort of journal he kept of a to-do they had at Stonehenge:

    OakWyse: To the West, along the same line of power upon which we stand, the ancient Tor of Avalon calls to us of an earlier time, a time when all traditions were more magical than they are today.

    Naturally, I was reminded of one of the great moments in cinematic history, Spinal Tap’s spoken-word intro to its art-rock Stonehenge tribute, “Rock and Roll Creation”:

    When there was darkness and the void was king

    and ruled the elements,

    When there was silence and the hush was almost deafening

    Out of the emptiness

    Salvation, rhythm and light and sound,

    Twas the rock and roll creationTwas a terrible big bangT

    was the ultimate mutation

    Yin was searching for his yang

    And he looked and he saw that it was good.

    When I’m alone beneath the stars and feeling insignificant,

    I turn within to see the forces that created me

    I look to the stars and the answers are clear

    I look in the mirror and see what I fear

    Tis the rock and roll creation

    Tis an absolute rebirth

    Tis the rolling of the ocean and the rocking of the earth

    And I looked and I saw that it was good

    That’s the trouble with this OakWyse business: you can’t tell what’s real, and what’s a parody.

    I mean, look at this:

    http://www.tuathadebrighid.org/beltaine.htm

    It’s a link to an OakWyse-authored “Erotic Ritual For Two (Or More) People” to celebrate summer. It’s hysterically funny, and culminates with:

    The couple join in love-making on the mattress, taking whatever time is needed.

    (If there are more than one couple, appropriate actions agreed upon as a group beforehand now take place.)

    I dare you to read this solemn ritual and not think of the hilarious “Lovers” recurring skit that Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch used to do on Saturday Night Live.

    But here — http://www.sacredgrove.com/1OAKWYSE%20GODDESS%20BEADS.htm — OakWyse urges readers to pray to the goddesses, and men to “make a devotion to the Horned God.” This man is not a Christian. He has no business passing himself off as a Christian priest. The Horned God is the enemy of Christ. This is where it ceases to be funny.

    I certainly hope someone is faxing all of this stuff to Archbishop Akinola.

  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    Mr. Linden, I can assure you that the article is already written and waiting for a big enough gap in the election coverage to make it into the newspaper.

  • william rowland

    This is a a response to tmatt.

    Your attack on the Archibishop is Unchristian.

    There are those of the Church who politely call themselves ‘conservatives’ when the real words are “bigot,hypocrits and ignorant” are more appropriate” and they are extreamists in general.

    These are the same people who tried to burn Galileo at the stake during the Inquisition period in which the Christian Church engaged in human sacrifice at auto de fes and burned more than 14 million at the stake because they were alledged witches, devil worshipers, gay and for reasons of greed among many other sins.

    These are the people who believe that slavery is ok and disrimination against anyone who is a non-white is ok and these are the same people who perpetuate in America and elsewhere the dogmas of slavery and Jim Crowism—-setting glass ceilings so that others may not arize above their inherited station in life.

    These are the people whose minds are so darken and shut they can not follow Christ’s advice that he is the light.

    These are the people who would murder gay people for no other reason than they are gay.

    These are the people who turn away the sick and do not follow the good samaritan rule–that is a Jewish Priest (read Christian Ministers) even failed to stop and help the sick man but the Samaritan did.

    These are the people who turned out of the Church the modern day lepers who are the victims of HIV.

    These are the people who wear religion on their sleeves but are as St. Paul says nothing more than the noise of a clanging cymbal.

    These are the people who drink milk with fish, who eat pork, who cast not their wives out into the street when they are in the menestral periods and who engage in many unclean things, who have not been judged and yet are all too eager to cast the first stone when thier own background is probally worse than the person they are going to throw stones at.

    These are the people

    The Archbishop has and is bringing light into the Church which it needs. He is one of the finest Archbishops the Church has ever had and if the truth be known History will reveal him to be a Saint.

    Shame on you tmatt.

    william rowland

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    ROWLAND:

    Your piece is satire, right?

    What part of my column on the ABC constituted an attack? It was a pretty low-key summary of the news and statements at the time of his appointment, including the last word from the left. Correct?

  • http://gayspirituality.typepad.com/ Joe Perez

    As I wrote on the post on the Gay Spirituality blog tonight, it looks like the conservative religionists are in for a fight. The battle is indeed over more than homosexuality or the inclusion of feminine imagery in liturgies. The battle is between factions of a religion who are operating at two radically different levels of consciousness–mythological-believing conservative religionists on the one hand, and rational-minded religionists on the other. God bless them all. And I pray that they will find their way to an understanding of God that is big enough for both of them. God, after all, is not merely found in the truths of the mythic-level religionists and the truths of the rational-level religionists. The great mystery that goes by the name of God or Spirit includes all their truths, and many more besides.

  • Darel

    Mr. Perez,

    Two factions of a religion? Hardly. The pagans have left Christianity, and have taken the ECUSA with them. The microscopic “religious left” has gained a tiny 2.5 million member (and shrinking fast) club and lost its soul. You are welcome to worship/celebrate/commune with your “great mystery” but you are not welcome to call it the Holy Trinity.

    The great irony is that the “enlightened” pagans who promise to lead us to the glorious future Happy Land can’t seem to get any real ex-pagans to follow them. Those folks all want Christ.

    Darel

  • Andy Crouch

    Well, the curious–and newsworthy–thing about neopaganism is just how “mythological” it is. The Druidry of Oakwyse and Glispa is worlds away from, say, Bishop Spong’s modernistic rationalism–one can only imagine the scorn he would heap upon it if given the chance (and if neopagans weren’t expedient allies on certain shared causes). It is way too reductive to see this as two factions, one “mythic-level” and one “rational-level.” The dissolution of the modern liberal consensus thus produces fascinating bedfellows, and occasionally antagonists, among the progressive wing of the Episcopal church.

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

    Andy Crouch: It is a bold generalization, isn’t it? And since I have articulated this generalization in considerable detail elsewhere and base it on a solid body of research into levels of spiritual development, I feel comfortable standing behind the bold generalization. The truly reductionist viewpoint is yours (and Mattingly’s), which interprets the cultural conflict within the Episcopal church solely from within the mythic-level paradigm.

  • http://clientandserver.com dw

    I know I’ve heard this before, something similar out of PC(USA) women’s conference around 1995. Communion with milk and honey and some questions of whether who or what they were worshipping. It really, really got the conservative plurality of PC(USA) pissy.

    Tmatt, Doug, either of you know what I’m talking about?

  • http://anglican.tk The CaNN Web Elf

    DW:

    Would that be the following Re-Imagining conference?

    “Rank-and-file members of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) were rocked in 1993 by news that the denomination had sponsored a Minneapolis conference–the Re-Imagining Revival–where attendees were told to “re-imagine” the God of the Bible as the goddess Sophia…”

    http://www.family.org/cforum/citizenmag/coverstory/a0002925.cfm

    and more here.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Re-Imagining+sophia+honey&btnG=Search

    “Enjoy”…

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    The truly reductionist viewpoint is yours (and Mattingly’s), which interprets the cultural conflict within the Episcopal church solely from within the mythic-level paradigm.

    ***

    Well, I would assume that a church that is claiming Catholic polity and continuity with 2,000 years of Christian tradition would be claiming to be part of that apostolic body. Correct?

    My point remains the same. What are your options? You can warp or trash the Decalogue, the Nicene Creed and other claims of absolute truth. Or you can submit to them.

    Now, a post-modernist can say that they will do both. That is just another way to say option one, another form of redefinition.

    So if I have erred on the side of schadenfreude, I have done so after years of covering the ECUSA story and dealing with people who hide their positions on these issues rather than state them openly.

    I am in favor of people stating their positions openly, as Joe has done, quite frankly. I have, as a journalist, never had trouble dealing with sources on the left (or the true fundamentalist right) who stated their beliefs and motivations openly. You write down what they say, check the quotes twice, and write your article.

    Their views speak for themselves. More power to them.

    It’s the people who hide their viewpoints, for legal and financial reasons, that drive everyone crazy. This is one reason that someone like Bishop Spong has so much more integrity than someone like Presiding Bishop Griswold. Spong is who he says he is.

    Why not be honest? Why not say what Joe has said, that these are two totally different approaches to faith and life and that, as a result, claiming that they can be part of one ancient, Catholic, apostolic Communion — with a large C — is nonsense and hurts the integrity of believers on both sides of that divide?

    Oh, and the candor makes life much easier for journalists. So I have selfish motivations, as well. I have a bias in favor of honest and accurate stories.

    In the clash between CT and the ECUSA liturgists, who is being open? Who is hiding materials and removing URLs?

    P.S. DW — See the comment by Faith.

  • http://www.wildfaith.com Darrell Grizzle

    Why would the mainstream press bother with this story? This is old news — as tmatt himself pointed out, it’s over a decade old. The only thing new here is the surprisingly naive statement by N. T. Wright (for whom I have a lot of respect as a biblical scholar). I guess Wright has never been to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

  • http://www.wildfaith.com Darrell Grizzle

    tmatt, I read the statement from the Episcopal Church regarding the CT weblog. The statement pointed out the difference between a worship resource and an officially approved liturgy of the church. In what sense is that “lashing out,” as you put it?

  • Larry

    Re the earlier post regarding Sophia Worshipping in the Presbyterian Church USA. Re Imagining and Voices of Sophia are not dead. Read about our brand new moderator and vice moderator attending the Voices of Sophia breakfast in July 2004.

    “Voices” received a special greeting from Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase and Vice Moderator Jean Marie Peacock. The vice moderator got a round of applause for her opening line, “God is good, isn’t she!”

    http://www.layman.org/layman/news/2004-general-assembly/staying-alive-re-imagining-god.htm

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Darrell:

    Where does the CT piece say that this is an officially approved liturgy.

    It doesn’t.

    Thus, we have a classic case of an institution saying: I did NOT say B! When they were accused of saying A.

    And if the materials were not all that bad, why hide them? Why talk of witch hunts, unless you believe that someone is engaging in a witch hunt?

    And the story is old, but it remains unreported in the mainstream.

    And the timing is astonishing. The context is everything and the context is the GLOBAL conflict between the liberal First World and the traditional Third World. That makes this an urgent story — at least its urgent to the Third World and its tiny band of ECUSA rebels.

    There is a reason I framed this, yesterday, in terms of a vote to TABLE discussion of this issue.

    There are few Episcopalians who want to throw out the Decalogue and, oh, worship Sophia or Baal.

    But there are also very few Episcopalians willing to openly discuss their Catholic level Communion with Episcopalians who DO want to experiment with worship that blends various world religions, in clear contradiction with Scripture and what the Orthodox would call Holy Tradition. That’s the old fashioned stuff that is now out of fashion in the postmodern age, the stuff that the growing churches in the Third World still believe.

    The issue is whether — as Joe states — these two worldviews can exist in one ancient Communion.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will Linden

    Jason, try a search for neo-pagan “anti-fluffy-bunny” sites. You might even enjoy talking it over with them.

    In any case, I presume people choose magical names to please themselves, not you.

    Will “I have many names, but one nature”.

  • Philip Stanhope

    I doubt that this is just an issue within the Episcopal Church. This Pagan blogger mentions a United Methodist clergy couple who were also Wiccans:

    http://www.chasclifton.com/2004/10/paganchristian-clergy-christianity.html

  • Paul Barnes

    William Rowland,

    14 million burned at the stakes for being witches? Which history books have you read?

  • Zhou De-Ming å‘(r)德明

    In regard to Archbishop of Canterbury.

    It is my understanding that “Druid” has three different meanings depending on historical period:

    (1) Ancient Celtic Druids who interacted with Patrick, remants of Roman Empire, and early Church, for good and bad;

    (2) Ethnic Druids of the 18th and 19th centuries, a “cultural pride” phenomenon;

    (3) Modern neo-pagan Druids (since the First World War).

    My understanding is that the Episcopal priests who are the subject of this story are Type (3) Druids: modern neo-pagans.

    But I think that Archbishop of Canterbury, inducted into the Gorsedd of the Bards (founded 1792) at the National Eisteddfod is a Type (2) Druid: part of a cultural association.

    “The roster of members of the Gorsedd of Bards include Queen Elizabeth II, the late Richard Burton, other clergymen including the retired Roman Catholic Bishop of Menevia, the Right Reverend David Mullins, opera star Bryn Terfel, England cricketer Robert Croft, former Labour Leader in the Lords, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and ex-Welsh rugby stars Gareth Edwards and Ray Gravel. Former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies was inducted into the Gorsedd in 1998.”

    They state “the primary mission of the Gorsedd of Bards, to honour the literary achievements of Welsh poets and prose writers”.

  • http://www.ecumenicalinsanity.net Athanasius

    Paul: He’s been reading the propagandistic ones. 30,000 give or take a few thousand is more like it (bad enough, sure, but let’s not be ridiculous).

  • http://www.wildfaith.com Darrell Grizzle

    tmatt: The very headline of the CT article implies that the Episcopal Church is acting officially, rather than offering a resource. Only the General Conference can act “officially” for the Episcopal Church. Ted Olsen may not know that (and so he may not have been deliberately dishonest), but you as an former Episcopalian do know that.

    I wish they *were* officially approved liturgies. Honoring the Divine Feminine is long overdue.

    You still did not answer my question: In what way is the Episcopal Church’s response to CT “lashing out”?

    I agree with you that “the issue is whether — as Joe states — these two worldviews can exist in one ancient Communion.” These worldviews are diametrically opposed to each other, in many ways. They have co-existed in the Episcopal Church for several decades, but the Gene Robinson controversy is bringing to a head the drastic differences between them.

  • http://knapsack.blogspot.com Jeff

    Hey, wait a minute; it’s bad enough dissing the Lord of Lords, but mocking D ‘n D as a phenomenon that peaked 20 years ago? Since it just celebrated a 30th anniversary a few weeks ago (I speak as a Christian pastor who once was a DM and pres of my college Gaming Club), and is doing very well as a rewarding and healthy group activity among Christians and Pagans alike, such disrespect should not be tolerated. Just post the apology here, please; intensity of regret to be determined by the roll of percentile dice.

    And a shout-out for the Decalogue from the Episcopals wouldn’t hurt any . . .

  • http://mcj.bloghorn.com/ Christopher Johnson

    First off, the issue of Rowan Williams being a “Druid” is a false one. As I understand it, the organization into which Dr. Williams was initiated is basically a Welsh cultural and literary society and nothing more. That they call themselves Druids is irrelevant.

    The real issue is whether and where the Episcopal Church will draw a line. Is anything unacceptable in ECUSA? If the sorts of ceremones and pronouncements documented at Ecumenical Insanity and other places are not grounds for a priest to be defrocked, than nothing at all is. And ECUSA officially has no more standards at all and can no longer be considered a Christian church.

  • Paul Barnes

    My shield +1 has been invaluable against the slings and arrows of the enemy.

    I just had a thought; I wonder if the Psalms could be rewritten along DnD lines…hmmm, could prove to be a valuable waste of time.

  • http://christheals.org Tim Temple

    As I recall, the Unitarian church started out as an organization of ‘liberal’ Christians. It then became dominated by Humanists (those whose highest object of devotion is humanity). They demanded open mindedness toward any other form of idolatry. New Agers and witches flocked in. At this point, the New Agers and witches are about to become a majority in the Unitarian church.

    And here’s the Episcopal church, which has become dominated by humanity-worshippers. In the name of open-mindedness, here come the New Agers and witches. Deja vu all over again.

  • Ken

    When we moved to Fort Worth in 1966, the local talk was about an Episcopal priest who had been de-frocked for having an affair with a woman in the congregation. It was a different era.

    Mr. Temple, I believe the Unitarians were started by people who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. At that point, I am not sure they could be called “Christians” anymore, liberal or not.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Something I am not getting coverage of from the MSM is the hooraw in Sydney over “lay presidency of the eucharist”. As far as I can make out, this represents an assertion that one diocese can unilaterally go completely Protestant. (The official documents look like they were drafted expressly to AVOID clarification.) One would think that this is an issue that goes to the roots of the Communion. But it does not have the attention-grabbing appeal of sex-sex-sex for journalists who ignore trivial things like theology.

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