The Oxford Movement Begins | Ritual Notes

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Most Anglo-Catholics know that 185 years ago today, John Keble ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford to deliver the sermon at the opening of the Assize Court. If the date is not remembered, the result certainly is…

Source: The Oxford Movement Begins — Ritual Notes

“Most Anglo-Catholics know that 185 years ago today, John Keble ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford to deliver the sermon at the opening of the Assize Court. If the date is not remembered, the result certainly is. John Henry Newman wrote that this sermon, easily forgotten during any other time, was the beginning of the Oxford Movement.”

The UEC, parent jurisdiction of the Oratory of St. Bede the Venerable and St. John’s Church, Westminster, is not located on the Anglo-Catholic wing of traditional Anglicanism, but rather considers itself Reformed Catholic, being devoted to the classic formularies of the Anglican tradition, and sometimes tends to look askance at the Oxford Movement (which admittedly, in its later manifestations, became rather ultramontane). Yet this essay makes some excellent points, noting that John Keble’s Assize Sermon of 1833,

“entitled National Apostasy, is unexpectedly good. Once you get through the dense beginning and understand the building argument, it not only speaks clearly to the times in 1833 but it has a remarkable resonance in 2018.

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“In a nutshell, this is Keble’s argument:

“Like Samuel’s Israel, we prefer the lure to live in prosperity and so-called freedom like other non-Christian nations. Nations, and by-extension individuals, find justification for throwing off the yoke of Christ and the demands of discipleship. We look to threats outside and threats within to abandon godly principles (sound familiar?). We then blame government or religion for our ills and never ourselves. We rationalize and excuse every decision and act. We become so tolerant that we believe nothing and we persecute those who believe in the name of inclusion (oh my goodness!). This rebellion moves from individuals to public officials. The officials begin to attack Christ by attacking His Church, beginning with apostolic authority – bishops. This attack will come in the name of popularity and expediency…

“Keble calls the Church to follow the example of Samuel through constant intercession, which then gives grounding and strength to protest. Christians should continue to glorify God in their daily lives and routines and should not be so consumed with the concerns of the day that they neglect ordinary duties, especially prayer and devotion. This is an important point he makes. While we may not live to see wrongs righted, we are on the right and, ultimately, victorious side.

“Every one of his points deserves further reflection and exposition, but is this not the climate of 2018?”

I would certainly say that there are plenty of similarities and parallels! The article goes on to point out – cogently, I think – that

“The Catholic Revival in the Church of England had nothing to do with gin, lace, and backbiting, as is often caricatured. Yes, elaborate ritual and church building followed in the next generation, but this was a logical development of the belief that the Church is not the same as the Post Office. [Or, as I sometimes put it in defending the use of traditional language in worship, “The liturgy – the worship of God – is not Uncle Joe’s barbecue.”] The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives and not the same as chicken tetrazzini at the weekly Rotary Club. The development of ritual and devotion was the servant, the handmaid, to the truths Keble turned our minds to 185 years ago.”

May they never be forgotten!

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Episcopal Church considers making God gender neutral | Fox News

Episcopal Church leaders called for revisions to masculine language in the Book of Common Prayer.

The Episcopal Church formed a committee Wednesday to “provide a pathway” toward revising the Book of Common Prayer to include gender-neutral language.

Source: Episcopal Church considers making God gender neutral | Fox News

“Church leaders called for immediate revisions to correct the ‘overwhelming use of masculine language’ throughout the book, arguing that the language is now a hindrance to spiritual inclusion, according to the Episcopal Church website.

“’As long as ‘men’ and ‘God’ are in the same category, our work toward equity will not just be incomplete. I honestly think it won’t matter in some ways,’ Wil Gafney, a professor of the Hebrew Bible and strong advocate for the edit, told the Washington Post.”

This is old news for me, in some ways; they were talking in the same terms at Vanderbilt Divinity School back in the mid-90s. I stopped attending chapel there when a lesbian trio sung a “Doxology” to “the Mother, and the Daughter, and the Holy Spirit.”

The problem is, as C.S. Lewis pointed out in “Priestesses in the Church,” when you remove that “masculine language” and replace it with either feminized language or, as is the fad these days, “gender-neutral” language, you change not only the language but the content of the faith.

“Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential.

Change the language with which we speak of God, and we end up with something quite different from Christianity – or at least, quite different from orthodox Christianity. Of course, for many of these neo-reformers, that’s the point…

In His ultimate essence, of course, God far-and-away transcends human gender. The problem is, by trying to make God “gender-neutral,” we also end up making Him neuter, and therefore impersonal (we are also, as Lewis points out above, challenging the inspired and therefore authoritative character of the Holy Scriptures – placing our contemporary social views and mores above the given-ness of revelation: in effect, creating God in our own image).

We can have a personal relationship – whether for good or ill – with a Father. We can’t have a personal relationship with an amorphous blob! I’m reminded of another Lewis quote, in which he commented,

“A girl I knew was brought up by ‘higher thinking’ parents to regard God as a perfect ‘substance’; in later life she realised that this had actually led her to think of Him as something like a vast tapioca pudding. (To make matters worse, she disliked tapioca).”

While that may elicit a wry smile, it also makes a very good point! It is a short step from non-gendered to “nothing in particular.”

There are other Biblical metaphors for God that can be used, of course, that don’t have specifically gender-oriented connotations – “Vine” and “Rock” are two that come immediately to mind – but there is a reason that the more traditional, masculine images of God are vastly more common: they tell us things about God, and about our relationship with Him, that the less-commonly-used ones do not.

Besides that, and perhaps even more importantly, our Lord Jesus Christ called God “Father,” and instructed us to do so as well (“When you pray, say ‘Our Father…'”). We can call God other things in addition to Father, of course, as I commented above; but we cannot fail to call Him “Father” and make any kind of claim that we are obeying our Lord’s teachings. And while God transcends human biology, of course, fathers are biologically male. It does violence to biology, language, and theology alike to pretend otherwise!

The Fatherhood of God – unavoidably masculine though it be – is an essential component of Christianity. Remove it, and you have a different faith.

Students’ attitudes really… *ahem!* …take the cake.

Many or most of my readers may know that a recent Supreme Court decision held that a Christian baker was within his rights to refuse to bake a special cake for a gay wedding. For that he was roundly criticized, some would say harassed, by the party in question. They brought suit, and the case eventually made it to the SCOTUS – which, to the surprise of most observers, found in favor of the defendant.

While their ruling has been criticized by some conservatives for being too narrow, it at least went some way toward upholding the principle that merely because one offers a service to the public, one is not thereby obliged to completely chuck one’s moral standards and religious beliefs into the gutter. (To put a slightly finer point on it, service does not equate to slavery.)

The baker made it clear that he would happily have sold the couple a pre-existing cake; he is, after all, in the business of selling cakes, and has no desire to actively discriminate. However, by demanding that he make one specifically for their occasion, they were forcing him to actively participate in it, demonstrating de facto approval of their actions, and that is what he objected to. The Supreme Court, to their credit, agreed.

Now, I am a bit more extreme in my views, in that I believe a private business owner has the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason, or no reason – with the understanding, of course, that this is likely to have an impact on his or her business, and if that impact is negative (people “vote with their wallet”), he or she has no right to complain. So from that perspective, yes, I agree that it was too narrow a ruling.

But, it is head-and-shoulders above the situation we have had up to this point, which is that basically anyone can be forced to do anything for anyone, if it is in line with their business, and the business owner has no choice in the matter, regardless of their moral qualms. So it is at least a significant step in the right direction!

What causes me to shake my head (in dismay though not, alas, in surprise) is the reactions of the college students interviewed, which demonstrate with all-too-crystalline clarity the extent of the socio-political indoctrination inflicted on our young people by the academic establishment – public school and higher education alike – as well as the lack of critical-thinking skills inculcated by these institutions.

They are emphatic and unanimous that the SCOTUS decision was wrong, that people’s “right” to “be who they are” trumps a business owner’s right to follow his or her own moral and religious standards – even to the point of being forced to do something that is directly against them. But they start to waffle when the parameters are shifted!

Well, what if it’s a black baker, being forced to bake a cake for a KKK rally? They backed off of that one in a hurry, although struggling (and failing) to find some sort of coherent justification for the switch: even admitting, in a couple of instances, that they had contradicted themselves.

What if it’s a Jewish baker, being asked to bake a cake for a Palestinian event (presumably of a “free Palestine” – and thus, anti-Israel – nature)? More waffling. A lot more, in this case, as they are presumably conflicted over which side is “in the right,” here!

But the point is that the argument that someone’s right / freedom to “be who they are” trumps a business owner’s right to be who he or she is, in following their religious and moral standards – even to the point of forcing that person to transgress their religious and moral beliefs – collapses completely, when it’s not some nasty reactionary Christian oppressing some poor, oppressed, “freedom”-loving progressive type.

As my mother used to say, “it all depends on whose ox is getting gored.” And as I have said more than once in various fora, irony and double-standards are endemic among today’s Leftists, and logic, coherence, and rationality appear to be in short supply!

What Really Lies At The Root Of Our Culture’s Suicide Epidemic | Daily Wire

Woman praying.

Anthony Bourdain killed himself today. Fashion designer Kate Spade committed suicide earlier in the week. That’s two prominent suicides in the span of just a few days. And they are far from alone, sadly. Suicide is a veritable epidemic across the nation. Suicide rates are on the rise in almost every state. In some areas, they have risen by 30% or more. This is not normal. Something is happening. But what? And why?

Source: WALSH: What Really Lies At The Root Of Our Culture’s Suicide Epidemic | Daily Wire

While this essay deals specifically with what seems to be an epidemic of suicides, including and most noticeably among prominent / “celebrity” individuals, I think the issues Walsh identifies can be applied more broadly, to include, inter alia, what seems to another “epidemic”: that of mass shootings. The crisis is the same, it’s how people react to it that’s different: some lash out at others; some lash out at themselves. Some commit violent crimes, while others commit self-harm… but the roots of the ailment are identical. He writes,

“People will say that suicide is on the rise because we are not doing enough to fight the ‘mental health crisis,’ but this can’t be the cause. We have never been more aware of, or more proactive against, mental health issues, yet the suicide rate only continues to climb. The rate was a fraction of what it is today back when nobody had ever even heard of ‘mental health.’ The purely psychological explanations just don’t hold up. Clearly there is a deeper problem here.

“I think that problem is emptiness. There is an emptiness at the core of our culture, and from this root the suicide epidemic grows. We have fled from God, from meaning, from purpose, and embraced a soft kind of nihilism; a nihilism that will not call itself nihilism. It uses other words and slogans to describe itself. ‘You only live once,’ it says. ‘Live your truth.’ People are told that there is only one life, one reality, and it has no meaning aside from what you assign to it. But what happens when you no longer see meaning? Well, our culture says, if you do not see it then it is not there.

“Those who seek happiness by following the well-worn paths will inevitably fall into this pit. If you do what everyone else is doing, and live how they live, and walk in their footsteps, you will end up in the same darkness. You will begin to feel that there is no hope and no point and no real beauty or joy to be found in life. And this is the state in which so many of us are living…

“And the crisis only worsens because we refuse to trace it all the way down to its roots. We stop at the brain, at chemical reactions and psychological disorders, but we never pause to ask why all of our brains have apparently gone haywire in modern times. If this is all just a matter of mental disorders, why in the hell are these ‘mental disorders’ so common now?”

A good question, but I will let you read the article itself to learn Walsh’s answer to it. It’s fairly short, I’ll wait while you read it. And if you are a regular reader of The Anglophilic Anglican, you will not be surprised that I agree with him, 100 percent!

But I would also suggest that the crisis is not just spiritual, but cultural as well (the two are, of course, not unrelated). When there is little stability, little homogeneity or sense of being a part of something larger (unless it is some victim group), little rootedness in community, culture, ancestral heritage, or tradition, it is hardly surprising that many people will come unmoored, psycho-emotionally… or that for some, that will lead to violence – whether directed against oneself, or against others.

We are reaping the bitter harvest of the seeds we have sown.

Children or Slaves? The Abyss of Difference Between Islam and Christianity

Can Islam and Christianity be seen as being the same, or similar, or as complementing each other, or are they so radically opposed and at loggerheads that it is a grievous error to see them as having anything meaningful in common?

Source: Children or Slaves? The Abyss of Difference Between Islam and Christianity

It is a commonplace in certain quarters today – from the secular, largely left-wing media, to the current Pope – to talk and act as if Christianity and Islam are basically comparable and equivalent: “People of the Book,” just two ways of worshiping the same God. But is that accurate?

Most people are at least vaguely aware that Islam does not consider Jesus Christ the Son of God, let alone the Incarnation of God’s creative Word. He is a messenger of God, a prophet, theoretically respected, but far less revered than Mohammed.

But the differences go still deeper, as this post relates:

“God is not love as a father,” the Islamic scholar replied. Instead, he employed the analogy as that of the love that an owner of a dog has for his pet, i.e. not fatherhood but ownership. For a moment, Hahn thought he was joking. He wasn’t.

“He didn’t smile. He said what he meant and he meant what he said. And I realized that Allah does not love as a father. It is a master/slave relationship. It is a religion of divine slavery. [Islam means “submission.”] And if we don’t like it, we have to realize that’s how they define their own religion. Those were the terms he was using. And to say that God is Father and we His children is not only a presumption, it is blasphemy.”

A couple of minutes later, Hahn again referred to God as Father and the Islamic scholar pounded his fist on the table, stood up and stormed out of the restaurant. Whether we like it or not, Christianity and Islam are separated by an abyss of difference. The “God” that Muslims and Christians worship is not the same God. One God might be the true God but, if so, the other is a false god. They cannot co-exist as true gods. It’s a question of being logical, not theological.

And as for atheism, there is at least one thing it shares with Islam. Neither the atheist nor the Muslim believes in the Son of God, nor the love of the Father for the Son, nor that the Father so loved the world the He gave us His only begotten Son that we might not perish but can have eternal life. In this sense, we can say that Muslims and atheist share the same radical impoverishment. They need our prayers.

Indeed they do. But they also need – or at least, we need – our discernment.

If Muslims indeed believe they are worshiping the same God as Christians, they are doing so incorrectly and erroneously; their idea of God is badly screwed up. Alternatively, the “god” they are worshiping – which they think is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who is revealed in the Christian faith as a Trinity of Persons in Unity of Essence, and of Whom our Lord Jesus Christ is the Second Person, the only and eternal Son of the Father, and the Incarnate Word, though neither Jews nor Muslims believe this) – is not in fact that same God; it is something quite different, and very likely demonic.

And of course, atheists – of whom many are, in fact, good, decent, and moral people (who fail to realize that they are so because they are living off the capital of a moral code imprinted into our Western consciousness by thousands of years of Judeo-Christian religion) – are likewise sadly misguided. But here again, Jesus was not merely a great moral teacher, although he was that, of course. He was and is also, again, the Incarnate Word of God, the only Son of the Father. His own teachings make that abundantly clear.

One can either accept them or reject them, but as C.S. Lewis explains it in Mere Christianity, He said what He said, and therefore He is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Trinity Sunday: A Few Traditions and Links | The Homely Hours

The Collect for Trinity Sunday

“Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.”

Source: Trinity Sunday: A Few Traditions and Links | The Homely Hours

Today is the Feast of the Holy Trinity: Trinity Sunday. While arguably the only feast day in the Church’s calendar to celebrate a doctrine, rather than a person or an episode in the life of Christ, in fact Trinity Sunday celebrates three Persons: the Holy Trinity itself, one God in trinity of Persons, but unity of Substance. This doctrine is at root a Holy Mystery, as is the Incarnation itself; yet it is, with the Incarnation, one of the two core doctrines of Christianity.

In an effort to explain its reality and significance, The Homely Hours points us to

“a beautiful post on Celtic Christianity and Trinitarian Theology, specifically how it manifests itself in the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of Gaelic hymns and prayers:

For the Gaelic writers, the Trinity is not an esoteric dogma to be recited and systematized but rather a living and lived reality, for God as Creator is near to us in creation, and all that he has made is a reflection of his power and his goodness. The triune life of the Three is not confined to the gates of heaven but spills overflowing onto earth, where those who call for aid find peace and rest in the divine communion. The Trinity is near to us in every aspect of our lives, and in the love of the Three we are complete and healed from our brokenness:

In nearness to the Trinity farewell to all my pains,
Christ stands before me, and peace is in his mind.

(Carmina Gadelica, 346, p. 312)

“You can also read more on Trinity Sunday at Full Homely Divinity:

As early as the ninth century, the first Sunday after Pentecost was being observed in some places as a day particularly devoted to celebrating our trinitarian faith in one God in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However, the observance was far from universal and one pope even dismissed it as an unnecessary observance since every act of worship is offered in the Name of the Trinity. In 1162, Thomas Becket was ordained to the Priesthood on Ember Saturday in Whitsun week. On the next day, he was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury. As Archbishop and Metropolitan, he obtained for all of England the privilege of celebrating the Sunday after Whitsunday as Trinity Sunday. After his martyrdom in 1170, and subsequent canonization, his shrine in Canterbury became one of the most important pilgrimage shrines in all of Europe and the popularity of Trinity Sunday also spread. In the 14th century Pope John XXII added Trinity Sunday to the calendar of the whole Western Church. For many centuries, the Sundays after Paschaltide were counted as “Sundays after Trinity,” and the season was known as “Trinitytide.”

And for those of us of a more traditional bent, of course, it still is.

See also:

While usually associated (understandably) with St. Patrick’s Day, the “Lorica (Breastplate) of St. Patrick” – also known as “The Deer’s Cry,” or simply “I Bind Unto Myself This Day” – is also highly appropriate for Trinity Sunday, being a majestic and inspiring invocation of the Holy Trinity!

“I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and One in Three…”

Wishing everyone a holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity Sunday, and season of Trinitytide which follows, and will last until Advent brings us ’round again to the Cycles of Christ’s Nativity, and later His Passion. May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – One God in
Trinity of Persons and Unity of Essence – bless all who read this!

“How To Kill A Church In Just A Few Easy Steps”: the Episcopal Church changes marriage doctrine… again

General view of Singer/Songwriter Chase Rice Filming Commercial To Preview New Single 'Whisper' at Church of the Assumption and Church of the Advent Episcopal on January 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Episcopal Church announced this week that it would be removing the words “man,” “woman,” and “procreation” from its marriage liturgy. Of course, the Episcopalians have long since removed Christ from their liturgy, so this latest move is no surprise.

Source: WALSH: How To Kill A Church In Just A Few Easy Steps | DAILYWIRE

The Episcopal Church – through which I came into the Anglican tradition, and which has been, in years past, the source of much joy and much of my growth in the Christian faith – has been on a long downhill slide for some decades, now. I am not quite ready to agree with Matt Walsh that it is “a church in the same way that the Church of Satan is a church. They are an anti-church. Rather than a body of Christian believers, they are a body of self-worshiping heretics,” but he is not entirely wrong, either.

Knowledgeable observers are torn as to when the rot set in; some would argue that the decision, back in the 1960s, to allow divorced persons to remarry in church without having had their previous marriage annulled – thus undercutting the authority of Christ’s dictum that “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” while placing secular understandings and popular “relevance” above traditional doctrine, and setting a precedent for further modifications – was the beginning.

Others place the point of departure further back, in the 1930s, when the Episcopal Church made the decision to allow artificial contraception, thus effectively decoupling (no pun intended) the sexual act with the act of procreation – a process which was made pandemic by the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s and following, with all sorts of unintended negative consequences for society as a whole (the specifics of which are outside the scope of this essay).

Howsoever that may be, this latest development – to excise both the terms and concepts of “husband,” “wife,” and “procreation” from the marriage liturgy – represents a further acceleration toward the abyss. As reported by Life Site News, inter alia:

The Church of England is torn over plans by the The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States to efface the terms “husband” and “wife” – as well as references to “procreation” – from its marriage liturgy.  

The change is meant to make the church’s marriage ceremonies more “gay-friendly.” Gay and lesbian Episcopalians have complained that the language of the current liturgy is offensive and exclusionary…

“The new service removes the phrase ‘the union of husband and wife’ and replaces it with ‘the union of two people,’” according to a report in the U.K. Telegraph. It also “replaces the section which talks about part of God’s intention for marriage being ‘for the procreation of children’ with the phrase ‘for the gift of children’ to make it more relevant for same-sex couples who may wish to adopt.”

This represents both an abandonment of Scriptural and traditional teaching on the point and purpose of marriage, and a complete and abject capitulation to a small but vocal minority for whom the celebration of their lifestyle choice is far more important than the moral and social standards that have characterized Christianity since its beginning.

I could cite chapter and verse from the Scriptures on this subject ’til I’m blue in the face, but I will not, for several reasons: first, I do not want to lengthen this unduly. Second, many of my readers will already be familiar with the arguments. And thirdly, those who are in favor of this innovation are unlikely to be convinced by appeal to the Scriptures – to which they already sit, shall we say, somewhat loosely.

But there are other issues with this as well. For one thing, I could easily see adding “the gift of children” as an optional alternative for cases in which the wife is infertile, the husband impotent, or the ages of the partners are such that bearing children is not a reasonable expectation. Such persons may well choose to adopt, and all respect to them. But the very word “procreation” is a reminder that we humans have the incredible blessing of sharing with God in the work of creation!

The sexual union of husband and wife, if all is going as Nature and Nature’s God intended, is capable of bringing new life into the world – a creative act, if ever there was one! – and raising up that child in a good way. In fact, the very reason sex feels good is to encourage us to engage in it, and (as the book of Genesis puts it) “be fruitful and multiply.” To put pleasure before procreation – in fact, to maximize pleasure and minimize or eliminate procreation, as we have been doing since the ’60s – puts the cart before the horse.

(We see the fruits of this, or lack thereof, in the plummeting birthrate among Western countries where the sexual revolution has taken hold, even as the population of less “advanced” and “enlightened” countries and regions explodes. Sidelining procreation is morally reprehensible, but it is also biologically and culturally suicidal.)

At any rate, according to Life Site News, “The move prompted a critical response from Church of England Secretary General William Nye last October, strongly urging the TEC to reconsider. The letter threatened to cut ties with the U.S. church if it adopts the planned gender-neutral [phrasing], replacing the current wording in its Book of Common Prayer.” This is more than a little disingenuous on the part of the C of E, since their pattern in the past has been to first deplore, and then later adopt, every left-wing innovation that has come out of the Episcopal Church! But it would be nice if they’d follow through, this time.

Whatever the C of E decides, Matt Walsh points out that

“Today there are fewer Episcopalians in America than Jews or Mormons. This is significant because the latter groups have always been relatively small minorities in America, while the Episcopal church was once the largest church in the nation. [Of course, that was a long while ago!] It’s been all downhill since then.

“What happened? You can easily track the church’s stunning decline over the past several decades and see that it corresponds to the church’s shedding of Christian orthodoxy in favor of liberal orthodoxy [emphasis added]. It began, as always, with the embracing of birth control and divorce. Then they moved to the ordination of women. Then it was a straight line to the ordination of openly gay clergy and the approval of same sex marriage. Now there is nothing surprising about seeing a feminist Episcopal priest blessing an abortion clinic or a transgender priest leading a service in a church adorned with rainbow flags. And it is even less surprising to look around the church and notice that nobody is sitting in the pews.

Why would they come and sit in the pews? What would be the point? The message of liberal Christianity is: “You’re perfectly fine exactly the way you are. Everything you’re doing is acceptable. Make no changes. Keep up the great work!” A weak person may be happy to hear that message, but they need not hear it twice. They need not come back for it week after week.

Traditional Christianity, in stark contrast, recognizes that a) we are all sinners in need of divine grace, and b) as sinners, we have a high recidivism rate, and need continuing infusions of that grace, just as we need to drink water regularly in order to survive.

Indeed, Christ likened himself to “living water,” that brings life eternal – and we imbibe that living water most fully when we “assemble and meet together to render thanks for the great benefits we have received at [God’s] hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy Word, and to ask those thing which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul” (Book of Common Prayer 1928, Morning Prayer) – and not least, in receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the sacrament of the Holy Communion, as is “our bounden duty and service.”

But for that, we have to show up. I generally offer live broadcasts of Morning and Evening Prayer via Facebook on Sundays, and just as in an earlier time (and sometimes still today) churches offered first radio, later television, broadcasts of their services, I have no doubt that these may serve as a means of getting God’s word out to people who might not otherwise receive it.

But (setting aside for the moment that there can be no such things as a “virtual” Eucharist – one is either present to receive the Body and Blood, or one is not) the fact remains that one must make a decision to be present, and act on it. If you don’t show up (or perhaps, click on the right link), you won’t be able to hear and receive God’s Word. Nor is merely receiving the end of it: you still have to act on it. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves,” St. James reminds us.

And as Walsh points out,

“If a person wants worldliness, they can go literally anywhere to get it. If they want lectures on diversity and inclusion, they can stop by the Human Resources office at work, or maybe have a chat with a public school guidance counselor. If they want encouragement to continue in their sin, Satan is happy to use a whole variety of methods to communicate that encouragement…

“But if a person wants to pursue something higher; if he wants to be rescued from the dreariness of modern culture; if he wants to find his real and transcendent identity; if he wants to be challenged; if he wants meaning, then he has even less reason to turn to Episcopalianism or any similar variety of Christianity. It is not substantial enough. It is not different enough. It is not saying enough. It is not asking enough of him.

“That is the great secret that ‘progressive’ and ‘inclusive’ Christian leaders are too high on the fumes of humanism to notice or understand. Religions grow when they expect more of their adherents, not less. Religions thrive when they provide a lifestyle that is radically different from the dull, hollow lifestyle provided by the world. People turn to religion for identity. And if all they find is more of the same, more of what caused them to go looking in the first place, they will not be converted.”

Fortunately, there is an alternative. There are a number of alternatives, actually; but there is one that I can speak to and recommend personally because I am not only a member of it, but a priest in it: the United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA, not to be confused with “the” Episcopal Church: TEC, or formerly PECUSA), of which the Oratory of St. Bede the Venerable (a.k.a. St. Bede’s Traditional Anglican Mission) and the nascent St. John’s Anglican Church, Westminster, are member congregations.

The UECNA is a conservative, traditional, and orthodox Church, in the classical Anglican expression of Christianity. We accept the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as “God’s Word written” and “containing all things necessary to salvation”; we look to the ancient and ecumenical (accepted by the whole Church of the time) Councils of the Church, and the Creeds promulgated by them, as our guides to interpreting those Scriptures.

We use the traditional Book of Common Prayer (1928 in the U.S., 1962 in Canada) and other classic Formularies (Ordinal, Thirty-Nine Articles, and Homilies) of the Anglican tradition for worship, devotion, and to guide our theological and moral understanding as Anglican Christians. These documents are to be read in accordance with the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church, to the exclusion of all heresies ancient and modern.

Our Bishops are consecrated in the historic Succession which we believe stretches back to the Apostles themselves. Our Presiding Bishop, Archbishop Peter Robinson, is also Bishop Ordinary of the Missionary Diocese of the East, within which both the Oratory of St. Bede’s and St. John’s Anglican Church are located. The United Episcopal Church maintains the Scriptural practice of ordaining only men to the orders of Deacon, Presbyter (Priest) and Bishop, but maintains the Order of Deaconesses as an ancient, lay vocation for women.

We believe that Christian marriage is to be between one man and one woman, and is a lifelong, sacramental union between them. However, as a pastoral matter, we also accept that marriages can and do fail, and seek to extend proper pastoral support to those whose marriages have failed or are in danger of failing. And we maintain the sanctity of life from conception through natural death.

For more details, see this exposition of our Core Values. You are also, of course, encouraged to visit the Oratory of St. Bede the Venerable’s page, either here or on Facebook.

And in any case, may God bless you!