Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Rebellious Generation in Charge

Over at Driving Like Jehu we have the suggestion that the urge towards communing the unbaptized arises out of an instant gratification culture. I don't think this is the case. Discussion shows a lack of people who aren't baptized banging at the door; in general they take the requirement of membership before participation as reasonable. No, the impetus here comes especially from the clerisy, who object to the notion of even the barest semblance of turning anyone away.

It's pitifully easy to unpack this, especially when I hear the magic phrase "prophetic voice". Our boomer-dominated hierarchy is still living in the late 1960s and still protesting against the Establishment, refusing to accept that, within the church, they are the establishment now. And, well, they tend to have maturity issues, one might say, about authority. So they are willing to use it against people who rebel against them, but they are reluctant to act like parents.

This reluctance means that discipline ends up being for enemies, not friends; it is reduced to a political tactic. As a church we find it very hard these days to teach personal purity; we indulge ourselves, and we indulge the rest of the world too. You are unlikely to hear a sermon against fornication in an Episcopal parish, and the notion that one ought to observe particular rules goes equally unstated. Every case is exceptional, and we grant ourselves limitless leeway. Meanwhile there will be a list of political resolutions at General Convention whose form and content will be drearily familiar to anyone who ever rubbed up against the college protest subculture.

Thus it is hard for our clerics to tell anyone No. That people should be baptized, that they should be in love and charity with their neighbors, that they should be confessed of their sins (witness the growing practice of omitting the confession of sin for large portions of the year) ceases to be requisite for participation in communion, because that wouldn't be inclusive, which is another way of saying, We Can't Say No. And we go on from there to edit out "the Jesus of Revelation" in favor of a mythical nonjudgemental "Jesus of the gospels" as though there were not plenty of parables in which Jesus preaches the peril of being judged.

And the solution is simple: it's time to grow up, time to admit that our desires are not to be catered to and that are sins are a problem, time to step up to defending the church as our predecessors expected us to.

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