Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hope On the Horizon Now

The Reformation isn’t over. But Protestantism is, or should be.  From The End of Protestantism by Peter J. Leithart , November 8, 2013
It is a good thing I no longer have to have hope within the Episcopal Church. My hope has gone or lead me to see a different horizon. And that hope is about an essence of Anglicanism. It is the spirit of the historic, active soul which infused the Episcopal Church with spiritual energy.
Around 1996, when I was rector of St. James Church in Wichita,I began to realize that the authentic authority in the Episcopal Church had radically declined.  I had experienced bullying for the first time by lay people. As a result, I had to learn about institutionalized systemic pathology.  For instance, the  St. James vestry organizational chart of 1986 had the vestry as the CEO and the Rector below in line with the Sexton. While I had fully corrected this nonsense by 1997, I knew I had to begin to explore the possibility there was no longer an Episcopal Church as I had known it for nearly 40 years. With the help of my associate and a very learned lay person, I discovered a once thriving form of  catholic Christianity among the Celts in Ireland and other nearby regions.  I discovered a form of Church organization and spiritual life that was not at all dependent on the Latin, European matrix of central organization with orders of ministry in a hierarchy. This was a whole new experience for me.  What struck me was how much I had essentially felt this Celtic soul of Anglicanism from my childhood on. (The reader may go back to early blog essays where I delineate my understanding of the Celtic qualities and differences I had discovered.)
Two small groups of people with me created two different educational organizations.  In the late 90’s, The St. Columba Center for Congregational Development and The Journey of  Soul were designed and tested to help fellow Episcopal Church leaders learn from and take on the necessary theology and systemic changes to reconfigure the Church for adaptation to a new spiritual and organizational journey.  After testing our idea locally, in other parts of the country and in Canada, we failed.  It failed because our Church  had already twisted itself into ways and means to coerce a false dialogue. The Church was attempting to achieve an impossible ideological conformity around social and ecclesiastical issues and programs while using the language of inclusion and social justice, clouding its intent to gather waning money, power and social influence.
As readers of this blog know, all the studies and data collections we have cited, indicate the  decline of  institutional western Christianity.  I believe we, who are so motivated, should start to move on and embrace a new order of reform that benefits from the lessons of an historic Celtic Christian spirit that: 1. Does not need our four orders of ministry to be in a hierarchy with a bishop “on top” 2. A sacramentality may once again be focused in proclamation and no longer reduced into ritual/ceremonial conformity to the dying old static hierarchical matrix 3. Where possible, a rapid consolidation of as many assets and resources, becoming networks of mission and ministry as locally organized with bishops facilitating and no longer directing regulatory conformity 4. Of a willingness to work with any and all other local faithful and morally sensitive people who can see their work as venturesome and purposefully discovering the Christ in daily life and work 5. Accepting an awareness, knowledge and understanding of a rapidly digitizing life in networks of communication.
From now on, we should be allocating fewer resources into  the dioceses which have become increasingly top heavy and dysfunctional. Everywhere and everyone is becoming the centers of Christ in this world. We need to develop models of  whole networked global/local models which together unify to become an expanding helical,healing force of spiritual energy and growth, “a noosphere” or a globally connected consciousness, as Teilhard de Chardin described nearly a century ago, a virtual DNA of the Holy Spirit-- Divine Numinous Activity-- toward the fulfillment of God’s creation in each of its billions of human centers.  We need to become Christ in this world so as to become fully and together the spiritual creatures we are drawn to become, surrounding each other in love, justice and adoration where we are finally drawn into full communion with God,”lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God's presence.”-- BCP Catechism on Prayer and Worship


  1. FYI:

  2. I really like DNA - divine numinous activity. Let's get down to the basic stuff we are made of!

    1. Cliff, some years ago, I was preaching and celebrating at St. Thomas in Overland Park, KS when I looked at light shining through a stained glass window with helix shape in it. Wow, I thought, DNA is both material and spiritual! Divine Numinous Activity in all of creation.

  3. This is a great article Ron. I believe that the Celtic Spirit (DNA) is alive wherever and whenever Christ is present in not only the hearts of the people but in the created order itself. The truth of the matter is that the Incarnate Lord is within the created order not, as you say, in a hierarchical form, but in a latitudinarian form; equally distributed to the constant divine circle of energy that encompasses us all. Good work, friend.

  4. Ron, you have put an arrow into the heart of the institutional church. Our hope is not that the past model can be dragged into the future but rather new wineskins for new wine.