September 17, 2008

For many years now I have enjoyed the writings of David Virtue over at Virtue Online. David has always held a hard line against the gradual takeover of The Episcopal Church and the other so-called “progessive” churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion (The Anglican Church of Canada, the mother Church of England) by a gay and lesbian activist community that seems hell-bent on imposing their own worldview and life choices upon the Church and its membership. Agree with them or not, and you have to give them credit – they have, and have had, both the passion and the Church’s leaders’ ears for quite some time; to those with the most passion ought to go the spoils, I suppose.

After more than a decade spent both in and out of the trenches, it remains amazing to me that the Episcopal Church’s so-called “progressive” leadership (i.e., its presiding bishops, diocesan bishops, and houses of deputies) were never able or apparently willing to cultivate a middle ground where “liberal” and “orthodox” members could at least agree to disagree and peacefully co-exist with one another when it came to the issue of homosexuality; the sad truth is, the competing sides and worldviews of the combatants have never been so at odds with one another.

But I digress.

At any rate, while I have not always agreed with David – at times I have found some of his writings a little too strident – I have always respected his tenacity, his not-insignificant grasp of the homosexuality issue from a variety of perspectives (cultural, pastoral, historical, and sacramental), and his perseverance in the face of increasingly-long odds. I have linked to his site often when writing my own opinions about the comings and goings in both The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion when I found something he had to say especially pertinent or poignant.

So it was with more than just a tinge of regret I sent David the following e-mail the other day:

Dear David –
I just want you to know that I’ve truly enjoyed your site for a great many years. I want you to know this because I won’t be frequenting your site much anymore, if at all. As much as I respect you and your ability and willingness to see your cause through, I think you and those who share your views are fighting a losing battle against the forces of multiculturalism, post-modernism, and the tri-headed devil of diversity, inclusiveness, and tolerance.

Alas, the time has come for me to bid adieu. I have been attending a Roman Catholic church here in Gilbert, AZ for over a year now and have now grown accustomed to the simple joy of worshipping God in a faith that is largely free of controversy and confusion about what it believes, and focused solely on the the saving and redeeming grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes to look forward to attending Mass on a weekly basis and feel just as good upon leaving – and I’m not even receiving the Eucharist yet!

I wish you and my fellow former Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics all the best in the battle ahead, but I can no longer join you in that battle. I believe my soul’s health is far too important than to be spending needless time and energy on a once-wonderful and important Christian tradition that is, frankly, neither anymore.

God bless your work, and I wish you all the best. For me, it just isn’t worth it anymore.

All blessings,
Doug Richard
a.k.a. “The Great White Shank”

Upon which I received this most gracious response from David:

I understand Doug. God bless you in your journey. I am too near the end to quit. I will die an Anglican, albeit in a sad disintegrating church.

Hopefully the birth of GAFCON can pull something off.


Sadly, I think there are a lot of people in David’s position. They haven’t left the traditions and the Church they once knew – both have left them. And it’s not a case of wishing things could stay the same as they were 30, 40, or even fifty years ago – after all, if any organization or faith tradition isn’t willing to grow and change it will eventually stagnate and die – it’s more a deep sadness and profound sense of regret and loss that things have been allowed to stray so far off the traditional path.

The truth of the matter is, The Episcopal Church no longer knows what it believes any more. To the Church’s Presiding Bishop and the vast majority of its sacramental leadership, to boldly proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ and uphold two thousand years of Church tradition and teachings is to risk (gasp!) offending those who practice other forms of religion, or, even worse, those who would boldly and brazenly seek to impose their warped “if it feels good it can’t be wrong” sense of morality upon the Church. And in doing so, Christ’s commission to “go out and make disciples” has been replaced with the sickening stench of “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You”, the Church seemingly not aware or caring what wolves are allowed in through the sheep’s gate and ordained into its leadership.

Fortunately, this is something I no longer care much about. It has felt strange to poke in on David’s site these last few months and no longer care or find the slightest bit interesting what’s been transpiring in the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion. Heck, I don’t even know what – if anything – transpired during this year’s Lambeth Conference. This in itself is significant, because ever since my “conversion” almost fifteen years ago I have loved and embraced Anglo-Catholicism with every fiber of my being – even when I was feeling so disconnected from things and wandering in a spiritual desert.

Who knows, maybe I’ll always remain that Anglo-Catholic even while worshipping in the Roman Catholic Church; maybe I’ll discover some traditional Anglican community in my travels and feel once again its pull and warm embrace – only time will tell. But my days of caring about The Episcopal Church – what it does, where it’s going, and who is leading it – are over for me. I leave the battlefield with no sense of joy or loss or remorse or care. I just leave, for the time has come to move on.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:06 | Comments Off on Loosening The Ties That Bind
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