Blogopotamus! on Another Episcopalian Scandal

Blogopotamus! discusses a brouhaha and its disappointing aftermath that arose after Christianity Today noticed and went completely nuts over an Episcopalian liturgy someone had written honoring the Divine Feminine.

See, here’s the trick though — they were attempting to “reclaim suppressed voices” of Scripture. Specifically the voices of the syncretistic Israelites who were inveighed against by idol polemicists in the OT.

There’s two levels on which this causes a scandal.

  • First, the notion of “reclaiming suppressed voices” in Scripture. That’s something which is unthinkable to a Biblical literalist, or even a milder inerrantist (or whatever the technical term is) — the idea that there might be multiple disagreeing voices in Scripture worth listening to, and some voices worth disputing, is very problematic from an even mildly Evangelical point of view.

  • Second, the notion that God can be imaged and approached as feminine or female. I have a feeling that this is part of the scandal: if the point of this “reclaiming suppressed voices” thing were something which the Christianity Today writers didn’t find objectionable on its face, they might have cut them more slack. But the end was offensive, so the means was offensive too.

Anyway, obviously one of the most liberal bishops in one of the most liberal American denominations stuck up for this liturgy in the face of criticism from Evangelicals, right?

No, sorry. One of the most liberal bishops in one of the most liberal American denominations instantly removed the offending liturgy and disavowed it and basically completely caved in and apologized to the conservative Evangelical magazine for his denomination being so terribly liberal. He is going to “investigate” whether this old piece of liturgy still represents the views of the people involved, taking absolutely for granted that it is a bad thing which, if it really does represent their views, deserves censure.

The key factor here is that the legitimacy of the outrage was never questioned. Nobody stopped to say “I notice your outrage is based on some principles that we may or may not share. Shall we stop to consider whether it is appropriate and whether we should share it and act on it, or whether it represents a difference of opinion?” The inerrantist and anti-Divine-Feminine assumptions which underlay the criticism passed completely unchallenged.

Opportunity for dialogue: lost.

Assumption that evangelical and fundamentalist voices represent the only true Christianity: unchallenged.

Liberal Christianity: assumed unquestioningly to be apostate and vicious, even by the bishop involved..

Nice job, Christianity Today. Nice job, Bishop Bennison.

4 thoughts on “Blogopotamus! on Another Episcopalian Scandal”

  1. Wow, thanks! Awesome and well thought out post. I do think some of the stuff about pagan-Christian relationships you wrote is slightly oversimplified (and not unreasonably, considering the context and length of the post) — what was left out was the fact that modern paganism isn’t a continuation of ancient paganism, but a recreation and reconstruction of it.

    That becomes important in the context of the piece of the rite you posted, because as it happens, Wicca, the most popular modern reconstructed “neopaganism,” borrows most of its rituals from a Victorian occult society called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (the founder of Wicca was involved with that society). The Golden Dawn rituals are largely Christian and Jewish in origin, being drawn from whatever magical materials from the Western middle ages the Golden Dawn founders could get ahold of and synthesize. That is why you find Biblical angels in Wiccan rituals — because they were borrowed from the Golden Dawn, which got them from the Bible. Apparently these “Druids” or whatever got their rituals from Wicca.

    So a final resounding irony is that the “pagan Druidical rituals” that these people are being attacked for were originally stolen by pagans from a group which borrowed them from Christians and Jews.

    Wow, that’s dead ironic.

  2. I was aware of some of that, having read some Regardie, and being vaguely associated with B.O.T.A. I tried reading Crowley, but he was just too weird for me.

    Kabbalah plays a major role in those traditions that seem to have sprung from GD; clearly rooted in Jewish mysticism.

  3. Ah, so I didn’t tell you anything you hadn’t long known. Cool. VAguely associated with B.O.T.A., eh? Wild!

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