Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Ugly Party at Prayer

I have become dismayed at the rhetoric being thrown around politically these days. I am apparently not the only one, judging from Michael Gerson's editorial in the Washington Post. He coins the phrase, "the Ugly Party", describing its rhetoric as "shar[ing] some common themes: urging the death or sexual humiliation of opponents or comparing a political enemy to vermin or diseases. It is not merely an adolescent form of political discourse; it encourages a certain political philosophy -- a belief that rivals are somehow less than human, which undermines the idea of equality and the possibility of common purposes." I personally think he is being way too kind to adolescents who are well past their "grow up by" date, and he shies away from the rampant stupidity and blockheaded certainty which are part and parcel of the ugliness. Nonetheless e has it pegged, and it's obvious that nothing good is going to come of this.

And nothing good is going to come of its analogue in the church. Bryan Owen comments on the Church of the Ugly Party-- that is, an awful lot of our church, or at least an awful lot of our church commentators. I can understand some of the anger expressed over at StandFirm, considering the course of the Kennedys' departure. After that it goes downhill rapidly, with over-the-top and unwarrantedly bitter remarks tossed off about every move from the liberal establishment. And as Owen observes, the other side is not really any better-- indeed, I would say that, as they are consistently winning, they really have little ground for the anger that spews from their pens. Yet you can read the comments in the "Thinking Anglicans" blog (a title which holds a slim lead over "Anglican Mainstream" in the contest for greatest hubris), and see if you aren't struck by the nastiness and dismissiveness therein (see, for example, this snarky article from Episcopal Cafe).

Meanwhile, I see that Fr. Jones of St. Peter's London Docks is discontinuing his blog. The reason, of course, is that he does not wish to make a spectacle out of his now untenable situation. I shall miss him; his Catholicism is not my Anglican "eth", but his dedication and faith are obvious, and he after all has something to lose: not just his parish, but even (so I am told) his pension if he leaves.I am told that his sort are a tiny minority, which I suspect is not so true in England as (after thirty years) it is in the USA.

I will reserve my views on the future for another post. Suffice it to say that I find it increasingly difficult to live with the nastiness that has come pervade my church.


Caelius said...

Whenever I think political rhetoric has gone too far, I remember what was printed in the Fond du Lac Commonwealth (WI) in October of 1886,

"'To arms, Republicans! Work in every town in Wisconsin for men not afraid of firearms, blood or dead bodies, to preserve peace and quiet; avoid a conflict of parties to prevent the administration of public affairs from falling into the hands of such obnoxious men as James G. Jenkins. Every Republican in Wisconsin should go armed to the polls on next election day. The grain-stacks, houses and barns of active Democrats should be burned; their children burned and wives outraged, that they may understand that the Republican party is the one which is bound to rule, and the one which they should vote for, to keep their vile carcasses away from the polls. If they still persist in going to the polls, and persist in voting for Jenkins, meet them on the road, in the bush, on the hill, or anywhere, and shoot every one of these base cowards and agitators. If they are too strong in any locality, and succeed in putting their opposition votes into the ballot box, break open the box and tear in shred their discord-breathing ballots. Burn them. This is the time for effective work. Yellow fever will not catch among Morrison Democrats; so we must use less noisy and more effective means. The agitators must be put down, and whoever opposes us does so at his peril. Republicans, be at the polls in accordance with the above directions, and don’t stop for a little blood. That which make the solid South will make a solid North.'"

But I agree with you about Thinking Anglicans' commentariat. Someone talked about the "lust for mastery" and was psychoanalyzed to death.

Derek the ├ćnglican said...

And I thought the political rhetoric theses days was overheated...!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wingate: I'm not sure I understand what you mean in this sentence: "I can understand some of the anger expressed over at StandFirm, considering the course of the Kennedys' departure."

Admittedly, I don't follow Stand Firm that much, but I'm curious.

C. Wingate said...

The Revs. Kennedy were put out on the street in the course of separating their parish from the diocese, and fortunately for them were able to find refuge with the local Catholic parish. Meanwhile the old parish buildings have been sold to the Moslems. Matt Kennedy and I hardly see eye to eye on anything but it's not hard to guess that there is a lot of personal bitterness bound up in their conflict with the church.