Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Our Druidic Past

We have another pass at the Melnyk saga, the web-ish details of which I've discussed elsewhere. Here I wish to talk about its relevance to The Current Crisis.

I'm not sure why a book by William Melnyk that came out a couple of years back is suddenly relevant now, but nonetheless one Susanne Evans felt the need to bring it up and connect it to the homosexuality controversy:

Melnyk’s problems within the Episcopal Church began when he was ‘exposed’ by a conservative Christian website seeking more ammunition for attacking the Episcopal Church’s consecration of a gay priest as Bishop. They accused Melnyk of taking part in rituals celebrating the Divine Feminine.

It's an inaccurate depiction, but what is most interesting is the supposed strategy. The problem is that this is precisely how the incident did NOT play out. Melnyk and Melnyk were (and I assume are) husband and wife; the problem wasn't that they "celebrating the Divine Feminine", but that (a) the rite that started it all off aped pagan middle eastern rites as described in scripture; and more importantly (b) it became quickly apparent that Bill Melnyk was living a second life as Druidic priest, on top of his day job as a priest in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Beyond that, the protestations of innocence on the part of the OWM were implausible.

There is a continuing problem within ECUSA of the presence of a core of clerics whose theology goes beyond unitarian and into an adventurism which I for one find irreconcilable with the Creed, much less the ten commandments or anything in the bible. A lot of this is closely connected to feminist theology (though there are other offenders with other agendas), and the Office of Women's Ministry has consistently served as a conduit if not exponent of the problem theology. That's what happened in the Melnyk case, but they got caught.

But as for homosexuality, the connection is loose. One could of course drape both with the banner of sexuality, though one issue is about being a sex and the other is about having sex. But the more truoblesome connection is that the theological adventurers are all on the pro-homosexuality side of that argument; many of their fellow travellers, however, are otherwise quite orthodox (modulo women's ordination, which crosses into the anti-homosexual side). Whether by coincidence or common precept, the orthodox and the heretical are allies on the issue which promises to divide the church.

So we are then back to the question I've raised over and over. Can the Episcopal Church, divested of the "conservatives", remain orthodox? I think it cannot, and the reason is the common thread of rights. Once homosexuality is out of the way, feminist theology is going to come back to the fore. And it is going to be very difficult for the remaining orthodox to effectively criticize it, because any criticism is going to be tagged as bigotry. The prayer book will be revised to enforce womanist positions, and it will be very easy to prosecute (or persecute) the creedally orthodox clerics who remain. Anyone who has seen the first phases of BCP revision has already seen some of this in action.

And Evans's post stands as testimony to the likelihood that the battle is indeed already lost. Such a flagrantly false account cannot be expected to convince the neutral; it is only workable as a self-justification for her faction. The subtext, therefore, is that the opponents of a radicalized theology need not be refuted, much less heeded.

(For some reason, this originally appeared on my other blog. My apologies for the confusion.)

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