Saturday, October 25, 2008

Public Discourse

In an op-ed piece, George Will wrote:
The Episcopal Church once was America's upper crust at prayer. Today it is "progressive" politics cloaked -- very thinly -- in piety. Episcopalians' discontents tell a cautionary tale for political as well as religious associations. As the church's doctrines have become more elastic, the church has contracted. It celebrates an "inclusiveness" that includes fewer and fewer members.
He was doing his bit as a pundit, expressing his opinion. As a well-known conservative columnist, journalist and author, he is able to influence the minds of many, indirectly sway public policy, and affect our very lives. In this case for instance, he questions the value of tolerance and inclusivity.

In my post about the place of politics in the pulpit, I expressed my opinion that a priest, pastor, rabbi, imam, or any kind of religious minister should not attribute any policy or candidate as God's. However, they are free to lend their voice to public discourse particularly when their church or religion is the topic of discussion. Especially when they do know, more than most of us, what they are talking about.

Responding to Will's piece, the leader of my congregation (and my partner), wrote:
After a wonderful and typical 16-hour Sunday workday, I came home from church and read George F. Will's baffling op-ed, "A Faith's Dwindling Following."

Will's impressions of the Episcopal Church are very different from my own, perhaps because he has chosen to view my church through the complaints of a former bishop who has led his diocese out of the mainstream and into a place of fear and fanaticism.

Mine is a "typical" Episcopal parish, filled with old and young, rich and poor, with several races, and with heterosexuals, lesbians, gay men, bisexual persons and transgender persons. I spend much of my time explaining the basics of the Christian faith, coordinating programs and visiting those who are planning baptisms, marriages and funerals. I pray with those undergoing knee replacements, mastectomies and just about every other surgery or procedure one might imagine.

Unlike the Rev. Robert Duncan, I don't spend my time forming alliances with those who agree with me; rather, I try to follow the hard way of Jesus Christ, welcoming all people and perspectives.

Will should visit our church, All Souls. Shame on him for stepping into territory about which he seems to know very little. Shame on Duncan for refusing to do the hard work of a faith that welcomes and frees.

His comment is published in the Washington Post.

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