How really religious some religious clergy are

February 22, 2007

A very good friend of mine, an American, retired cleric has sent me the following article, which I transcribe here because I find it of interest:

Meditation on God in Daily Life
Making a Difference: Locus of Meaning
Tuesday February 20, 2007
The devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'” (Luke 4.3-4)
By Tom Ehrich

If you are confused about declarations emanating from Tanzania, where Anglican prelates dressed down the Episcopal Church for daring to differ on matters that Jesus never addressed, perhaps this story will help.

In Spring 2003, I led a clergy retreat for the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. It was a welcome break from isolation in an area where ministry means sitting in someone’s living room while they cry, sharing coffee on the town square, dashing at midnight to a hospital room, eating church stew on wintry nights.

Theirs is ground-level faith, not lofty religion. It happens person to person, not at microphones or in position papers.

At the center of this gathering was the bishop’s assistant, who had spent twenty years driving from town to town, visiting clergy when their lives were in crisis, encouraging vestries when times were tough, sharing meals with their families, loving them into a cohesion that is rare in t he Episcopal Church.

Several months later, this friend was elected Bishop of New Hampshire, not as an in-your-face to the Anglican world or partisan statement about homosexuality, but because he was their pastor. I couldn’t imagine their electing anyone else, for he had shown the face of Jesus Christ in their homes, church kitchens and pulpits.

That election set off a paroxysm of recrimination that dominated two General Conventions and now has produced the bizarre spectacle of “Global South” bishops shunning our Presiding Bishop — at the eucharist! — because she didn’t fit their “boys’ club” mentality.

This controversy has brought forth absurd interpretations of Scripture and tradition and elevated an artificial construct called the Anglican Communion into a global arbiter of local practices.

None of this is about faith or ministry. It is ideological bullying. People holding one viewpoint want to impose their will on others. It is holding up stones of right-opinion and saying to the hungry, “Here, eat this.”

Episcopalians, like all Christians, have divergent views about everything, including sexuality. Those divergent views make our assemblies a nightmare and frustrate those who believe that all should believe and behave alike. But that diversity flows from the way God made us, and if there be oneness, it won’t come by sword or religious orthodoxy, but by love.

We need to remember that the locus of meaning for Christian witness isn’t a procession of the elegantly robed. The locus of meaning is the homes where God’s people dwell, the hospital rooms where they are born and die, quiet walks where friend comforts friend, small circles seeking hope, people picking up tools to help others, and the lonely hill outside Jerusalem where an outcast died for us.

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5 Responses to “How really religious some religious clergy are”

  1. anticant said

    It seems that the only issues that get committed Christians really worked up these days are gender and sexual orientation. How pathetic!

  2. Richard said


    As I see it, you are only talking about the Christians who should be “committed”

  3. anticant said

    You mean to an asylum, Richard? They already live in one, mentally.

    The C of E “we can’t let the Africans hive off” knicker-twisting is all about money, of course. They can’t AFFORD to let the Africans go.

  4. christianzionismexposed said

    Yes, anticant, you are not talking about Christians like my dad, who lived a quiet life of hard work and then gave his free time to help others, who literally wore himself out by his selflessness. And yes, I’m aware there are people who do this who have no ‘religious faith’ as well.

    Great article, Jose, and absolutely agrees with what I just responded to yours with on my blog. The nature of man never changes when the inner man isn’t changed. Most religions try to manipulate change from the outside aka legislate morality. True teaching of Jesus is change from the insidei out.

    Paul said clearly that people in the church have no business judging anyone outside the church and Jesus said not to judge period. So, when I see this kind of junk, I wonder why they bother calling themselves by a name of someone who they aren’t following anyway. Why? Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic..fine. Christian: Why? Or as Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do the things that I say?”

    Attaching religion to your prejudices, hate and dysfunction doesn’t change anything. It just turns people off.

  5. Having grown up in a “High” Episcopalian Church in Annapolis Maryland with one of the first “Chicago Four” female priests as co-head of that church I’m quite interested in this article.

    Janice Gorden was a strong supporter of civil rights and attempted to help my parents through their divorce. These efforts were brought about by love. There is love in religion. But there is love in a lot of places.,+Associate+Rector+at+St.+Anne%27s&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1

    Here is an interesting article that ties in nicely to the theme here from over at Teresa’s Anomalous Data.,guid,9ba5d1e4-80f1-42fd-889b-a0b59f7f9708.aspx

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