Thoughtless Anglicans

I have come across a website with the remarkable title ‘Thinking Anglicans’. The website compiles blog posts and makes comment from a viewpoint that basically toes the liberal humanist Anglican establishment party line.

The title of their website, ‘Thinking Anglicans’ is immediately offensive because it sounds elitist and condescending. It implies that the authors and readers of the website are the only Anglicans who think. Anyone who disagrees with them (like those awful fundamentalist, superstitious African Anglicans or those crude American Evangelicals in Virginia) cannot be thinkers like they are. They must be ignorant, stupid or both. The title further implies not only that the authors and readers are the only thinking Anglicans, but that Anglicans (especially Anglicans who are tasteful, educated and socially rising) are probably the only sort of Christians who think at all.

One of their number (if not in fact, then certainly in spirit) once said to me in his languid, English aristocratic way, “It must be sooo easy to be a Catholic. You don’t have to think about anything. You just accept whatever the Church says.”

The privately educated chattering classes of the Church of England offend in this way constantly. They do it instinctively. They are too often like one of Jane Austen’s aristocratic ladies who constantly offend everyone lower than themselves without even being aware of it. At the same time this gang usually prides itself on its refined manners, good taste and social niceties.

When confronted with a website called ‘Thinking Anglicans’ I want to ask, “What were you thinking?” I search in vain for anything in their writings which is at all original, creative or even interesting. Most of what is written is second or third hand liberal mumbo jumbo…a re-hash of out worn sentimentality, sad politically correct agitprop, and dodgy psycho babble all dressed up in mock Christian jargon.

It must be sooo easy to be a ‘thinking Anglican’… you just accept whatever the establishment of the Episcopal and Anglican Churches tell you…

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  • I’ve often noticed that liberals who haven’t had a fresh thought since 1969 tend to call conservatives “stupid”. It would be funny if it weren’t so pitiful.

  • The website should maybe be called Doing backflips in an attempt to bring some clear thinking to the Liberal Position. It has nothing to do with thinking but with parading the follies of Anglicanism.BTW: The new picture is just fabulous.

  • It’s not even the smugness that drives me nuts, it’s the utter banality of their conclusions, and their results that offends me most.In my last few months as an Anglican, we had a temporary Anglican minister, a woman priest, Father Virginia we called her. She fancied herself something of an intellectual. It was Holy Week. Each night in Holy Week as we came to church, Father Virginia offered us her insights (instead of a homily). She asked us to bring a cup, a mug of some kind, from home, to use as a focus point for her guided meditation. She had us consider how the cup was empty, how it might be filled, how if it were filled with something might be used to satisfy thirst. She had us consider how it had a handle on it (if we had brought a mug). She had us consider the hardness of it, and every other banal thing. She then drew the most childlike and obvious spiritual parallels. This Father Virginia had a Ph.D. in Theology, and an advanced degree in Psychology, and was a teacher at the local Anglican divinity school. And the best she could come up with was something that any evangelical low-church youth-intern with no seminary training at all would have had better sense than to have offered to the parish.This is liberalism on the face of it. Smug on the surface, unwilling to dialogue when the chips are down, and yet, the discourse is all on the niceties of language, the distinguishing marks of dialogue and discussion, without anything in the cup.Liberalism is an empty cup, an empty tomb, a pseudo-intellectual bunch of orphans.Orthodoxy is the body and blood of Christ, and a living and breathing body, a family of God.No wonder Liberalism is nearly dead. It practically kills itself off, it’s efficient that way.Warren

  • Can we really be surprised at any of this? This is the movement which produced its own high priest: John Shelby Spong, the great inventor of feel good, believe nothing, have no standards, just be nice to everyone school of ‘Christianity’.It’s a recipe for disaster and the Episcopal Church in America is rapidly reaping what it sowed.

  • First, belated but warm congratulations, Fr Dwight on your still relatively recent ordination. I feel I have known you for quite a while – at least since picking up a copy of your excellent book on Ss Benedict and Therese nearly four years ago. I also know your Ely relatives – you know, that Anglican minister and his wife! (Had a good chuckle over that one, I can tell you.)Which leads me neatly to your posting (and the resulting comments) on the subject of ‘Thinking Anglicans’. Do I detect ever such a small note of smugness in what you(all)say? “Thank goodness we’re not/no longer part of that dreadful liberally-infested ecclesial body masquerading as a ‘church’. We’ve seen the light. We’re(now) Catholics so we’re safe.” Well I don’t think you are and the reason I say this is because you are in danger of falling into precisely the same hole as many of the Anglican conservatives who are currently fighting their liberal brothers and sisters in Christ over (for instance) the ‘gay’ agenda. They are, in my view, probably right in much of what they say but offend every last jot and tittle of the Christian gospel in their manner of saying it. What irritates you (and me!) about much of what one reads in ‘Thinking Anglicans’ is but a mirror image of the attitudes displayed by many hard-line conservatives. Which is what prompted me to write in ‘Thinking Anglicans’ a couple of months back ‘a plague o’ both your houses!’. (I can’t recall the particular issue; it’s unimportant. You’ll find it if you dig a bit.) Because until Christians stop grandstanding and start addressing their differences with one another in a spirit of Christian charity, we don’t stand a chance in a world that has already to a great extent written off Christianity as an historical phase and a current irrelevance.On a tangental but not unrelated matter, there was an interesting piece in last week’s ‘Church Times’ on one of the pitfalls of blogging by a noted liberal who for a change makes some good points. If you’re interested,you can access this by, I think, clicking on the hyperlink at the top of this comment.

  • I’m reminded of the utterly condescending comments made by Katharine Jefferts Schori. “Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.” Hows that for a thoughtless and snobbish Anglican?

  • We can be thankful that the blog isn’t named “Anglican Brights.”

  • Marco, thanks for appreciating the new photo!Stephen, thanks for your comment. I think your essential point is that we must all beware self righteousness, and with this I agree. However, I don’t think the mere fact of converting from Anglicanism to the Catholic Faith necessarily produces smug self righteousness. It may, of course, but it doesn’t necessarily. One must examine the real claims of the Catholic Church objectively. I wonder if you have read the book I edited called ‘The Path to Rome’? It is a collection of conversion stories that I believe avoids the pitfalls you rightly condemn.Andrew, you’re right. Ms Schori’s comment is just the sort of attitude I had in mind.

  • Stephen Wikner makes some reasonable points, but should remember that the orthodox did not start this fight. The current Anglican crisis is largely the result of secular funamentalists forcing a new religion on the Christian church.It makes me very sad to see old and venerable Christian bodies being deliberately destroyed from within by bitter, angry people who want to replace the Gospel of repentance, grace and renewal with one of indulgence, narcissism and uncritical acceptance of morally wrong behaviour. One can tell a lot about the merits of particular arguments by looking at which side has to employ lies, distortion, misrepresentation and obfuscation.Look at any dissenting article on sexuality and it will contain one or more of the following:1. Misrepresentation of the Church’s teaching and history2. Ad hominem attacks on conservative figures.3. Meaningless blather about compromise, inclusiveness etc. that fails to actually address any serious moral question.The liberal case is built on outrageous lies and – as Fr Dwight points out – real intellectual arrogance (in the case of disstenting Catholics this is manifested in the attitude that you know better than the magisterium, and by extension, God). Case in point: I recently contacted the liberal organisation “Inclusive Church” to ask them to remove a very obvious lie from their website. They ignored my email and have not removed the lie. Ah, tolerance – you can’t beat it!

  • Tolerance is a virtue, but it’s just not the highest virtue, and the problem is that too many people mistake tolerance for charity–which is the highest virtue.Usually when tolerance is placed as the highest virtue that is because it is actually the only virtue that remains. I forget who wrote it, but there’s a quote that goes, “For liberty they mean license.” and when that happens ‘Tolerance’ becomes tyranny.

  • Good point.

  • It must be sooo easy to be a Catholic. You don’t have to think about anything. You just accept whatever the Church saysDamn right! Greater theologians than I have reasoned out the way to heaven… and it’s all 100% certified authentic by none other than the Holy Spirit.Sure beats having to agonise over every single little issue because there are so many different (opposing) anglican opinions to pick from..I’d much rather pick the Truth of Christ, even if I don’t fully understand the reasoning behind it.;-)

  • Dear Mac, I’m sure you still think about it though. There are different forms of ‘thinking’. The dissenting Christians usually defind ‘thinking’ as analysis and critical thinking. The scientific method makes them imagine that they must ‘test everything’. However there are other kinds of thinking: pondering over a truth is thinking, mulling something over in order to understand it better is a kind of thinking and simple meditation is a kind of thinking. I’m not sure ‘Thinking Anglicans’ are always including these other forms of thinking.

  • Many progressive Catholic sites also advertise as being for “Thinking Catholics” like America Magazine.This reminds me of atheists that call themselves freethinkers or now “brights”. When you have to include a label to show show smart you are, probably you are not that smart.

  • When you have to include a label to show show smart you are, probably you are not that smart…That’s pretty funny. Have you ever thought of starting up a humorous blog?

  • Once when I tried to venture my afffection for Rome, my Anglican rector basically said “well, we’re a thinking Communion; they’re not”. How rude of him.He’s the one who when saying why not to go to Rome, was basically quoting Msgr. Graham Leonard’s experiences of “why not” in your Path to Rome. That was one of the things that put me off middle-class Anglo-Catholicism.

  • César Utrera- Molina

    Congratulations, Father Longenecker, from Madrid. I have found your blog very interesting. Fresh and strong views of my faith written in English. Let me contribute with a personal experience to the topic develop in this post. From a country which is known as a catholic country I have suffered/borne during my college and university years with a soft version of every catholic dogma and, of course, of the catholic moral. I am not the only one, thousands of young people educated in catholics schools and universities by catholic priests and educators, can tell you the same. Unfortunately, I have heard many of the things that you and other describe as the anglican/liberal thinking said by catholics lips. That’s the point. Please forgive my English which surely needs more hours of study. PD:The blogger who recommends your blog publishes a higly recommendable blog named Compostela (in Spanish).

  • More reasons for me to learn Spanish. Of course we have ‘thinking’ Catholics too. The difference is, their ‘thoughts’ have to be verified by our CHurch’s magisterium. ‘Thinking Anglicans’ sadly, have their own thoughts and nothing else.

  • It seems to me that whenever someone presents a liberal viewpoint which – whether directly or indirectly – completely revolutionizes the way Christianity views something, they had better be prepared to bring out the big guns. If the liberal is correct, then he or she should be willing and able to rationalize their position from within pre-existing structures.But to these groups, that simply isn’t possible. They know they don’t have a leg to stand on Tradition wise, so they’re forced to turn to other strategies (faux views of what inclusiveness is, false notions of feminism, etc. etc.). Because those are progressive strategies. Nevermind that their employment often completely subverts the Gospel message.I see it time and time again; this sort of thing isn’t at all an appeal to “thought,” to “rationality,” which does indeed produce real innovation; it leads to nothing more than argument from emotion, arguments the most likely to implode.

  • My experience has been that thinking by myself required less thinking than thinking along with the Church.

  • Anonymous

    kkollwitz said “My experience has been that thinking by myself required less thinking than thinking along with the Church.”Hoo boy, so true! And our Holy Father, when he was a Cardinal, once said something along the lines of: I can accept the Church’s teachings because I believe that my intelligence is limited and that the Church is wiser. So here’s the cold, uber-intellectual you-know-what (if you follow the secular press, anyway) saying that his intelligence is limited. Makes you wonder how the libs see themselves and why.