Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Cardinal and the Lady

The particulars of their encounter
are unimportant, but the picture
of the two has sent shock waves
around religious circles.

She is a Methodist minister;
he is an archbishop and cardinal.
She wears an alb and a stole;
he is clad in a Friar Tuck robe.

She looks like a middle-aged mom.
He is a little leprechaun
with white chin whiskers
and a red beanie on his head.

His appearance belies his toughness.
He cleaned up the pedophile mess,
closed declining ethnic churches,
and crushed a laity revolt in his see.

In the ecumenical service they attended,
he spoke and anointed persons present.
Then he paused and asked her
to anoint him, that is to bless him.

What prompted his request?
Was it a planned gesture of fellowship
of a spontaneous, seize the moment,
recognition of another godly person?

Perhaps he was influenced
by the actions of the new pope
to relate to people at their level
and humanize the Catholic clergy.

He has said nothing about the incident.
She said that she was moved to tears
by his request, as recognizing
the holy orders that she possesses.

All the women of my acquaintance
have reacted to the picture with praise
and joy for what it represents,
whatever that may be, now or later.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

People of the Way

Anglicans and Episcopalians should read
"People of the Way," by the Rev. Dwight J. Zscheile
even though the author does not quite fulfill
the subtitle, "Renewing Episcopal Identity."

He spends a good deal of print chronicling
the demise of the "Establishment" Episcopal church,
that was the worship site for country club members
and the movers and shakers of a local community.

The author proposes a "mission" church
which directs its offerings to all residents.
He details how some Episcopal parishes
Have found unique ways to serve their congregants.

Carefully avoiding being ensnared in
the theological thicket that divides
the Anglican Communion, Zscheile argues
for autonomy of action at the parish level.

He proposes that "local churches become
the primary centers of mission and that
dioceses be the the means of networking
those churches into a collaborative whole."

Thus the command and control mode of
organization in The Episcopal Church would
be replaced by the "flotilla of lifeboats"
strategy of the Anglican Church in North America.

Rev. Zscheile is not so bold as to advocate
revolution within the Episcopal ranks.
Rather, he sees local parishes as needing
to be innovative in order to survive.

That does not really establish an "identity"
for a denomination which has relied on a
"progressive" set of beliefs to attract and
hold a significant number of new members.