Monday, October 22, 2012

A Manifesto of Hope

I find it amazing that Episcopal Journey of Hope has had over 16,000 visits in about nine months. That in itself is hopeful for us writers who originally did not have any idea about who would check us out or what really we might ourselves state. Nonetheless an evolution of purpose seems to be occurring as we write and discover what we think of each others’ topics and readers’ response.

In particular, personally I tend to focus on that essentially sputtering and struggling structure of the Episcopal Church in which we still live, move and occasionally suffer-- the episcopacy. I keep finding myself  feeling a mix of pain, past pride, contemporary interest and no small amount of disdain for the episcopal office. My passionate interest in the episcopacy is doubtless why I will finally have lived all but the first fifteen years as an Episcopalian (thanks largely to my cousins, the Shahan family). I see all of us  American Anglicans historically as defined by the episcopacy even as many of us find its present practices as bloated, expensive and ineffective. I know if I did not feel so committed in my concern, I would probably otherwise retreat  into our local clergy breakfast meetings for mutual support, pointless bitching and hopeless apathy.

My, and I dare say our, sense of hope resides in our active commitment to have authentic public regard for our ECUSA concerns because we know hope is the compass and directionality for our faith journey and do sense love’s empowerment to keep us moving in a true direction. This true trajectory is about the structural, or incarnational, power of love in our tradition to manifest itself in human life, organization and systems of finance, justice and mission. We do so at the heart of it all with an essential sense of finding value in the historic episcopacy. The question I certainly have begged of myself to answer for nearly twenty years is about  episcopacy, our inheritance in all its varied and mixed history of creative mission, highly varied practice and structure and in its frequent corruption as it has fallen over itself from the power of love into the love of power. My hope is that episcopacy has an essential authenticity which can be reformed and redirected  toward a true direction, once again returning to an evolving, manifested power of love.

While my and our essays in Episcopal Journey of Hope  regarding content, focus and interest varies, I believe we are united in our own episcopal sense of true vision: the quest for authentic oversight, foresight, insight and surround sight that causes us to see as much of a wholesome vision as each moment carries us into. We, like some old spider, are an experienced and imaginative creature of many eyes and legs spinning trails and tales of hope to catch once in awhile the 
smell, taste and touch of the Spirit. And when that manifestation of spirit hits our web, with it we vibrate with joy and excitement.

I need not invite you, as you are in this great web of life discovered, revealed and celebrated. But just so you know, the contributors to Episcopal Journey of Hope are here. We are persistent.  In the end, we should all  challenge our Episcopal Church as we feel so called to renew hope and the power of love.


  1. Well said!!! We are on a journey which reveals itself as we explore with the knowledge that the journey is the point. It is not a problem to be solved. It is more important than that.

    I am full of joy to be on the same trail with the other contributors.

  2. Yup, glad you are, cuz. See you tomorrow.

  3. In Chapter 18 of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), the character Lord Henry Wotton says to a young Dorian Gray: "The only horrible thing in the world is ennui, Dorian. That is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness." Anglicans may not agree, but the challenge for us is to become more comfortable with the process of communal discernment lest we leave more casualties in our hurry to overcome our anxiety. The spiritual leaders we need are the ones who are fully grounded in the faith community’s story and have the patience for the ennui that evolves from the praxis of discernment against the tension and anxiety of the people we serve. We need the voices of the elders who tell the story and the views of those whose stories are far different from ourselves for “the Body of Christ does not consist of one member, but many” (I Cor. 12:14) and I fear the loss of members on all sides may become our legacy rather than the treasure that Anglicanism is to the world. If this continues, we will become as one professor in seminary (he may have been quoting another source) said to his students, “statistically irrelevant” and our divine gift will be buried along with all the other disgarded artifacts of history.

  4. Ron, this is an amazing heartfelt essay about our connectedness as brothers and sisters in, to quote your favorite Presiding Bishop, a venture in faith. It is with great pleasure and contentment that I stand with you and others in our commitment to The Episcopal Church by lovingly chastising it with the hope for honest and true reformation.