Monday, May 13, 2013

All Is Well, sayeth the Dean

I was inclined to put up my own analysis of this, but I rapidly concluded that it was a poor use of my time to listen to every word of the Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary explaining to us about how the Episcopal Church is not in decline. But of you must, you can listen to Part One here and Part Two here. Or you can spare yourself a half hour of throwing yourself about the room at the sophistry of it and read Bryan Owen's response here, along with snarky comments from others (including myself).

Once one gets past the incontrovertible statistics of dropping membership, dropping attendance, closing churches and departing parishes and dioceses, there's not much left to say about the facts. There is no great statistical fallacy to invoke: the numbers correctly record literal decline. And given the continuing issues with clerics who cannot even get the creed right, it's hard to see how smaller numbers add up to more intense faith. So I must conclude that either the dean's thinking is hopelessly muddled, or that this is an act of the most dishonest rationalization. I am inclined to go with the former, but between the two interpretations I am left with the conclusion that he is likely either intellectually or morally unqualified to direct one of the church's largest education institutions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is just the TEC equivalent of a coach giving a pep talk during half time in a game where the team is losing badly? Is the purpose of the talk to be accurate, or make the listeners feel good about themselves?

Not really a good strategy, though, as reality is just going to roll up the score.

The elephant in everyone's room is the growth of the 'nones', particularly among the millenials. It would seem that the dechristianization of American culture has accelerated, and this outgoing tide is affecting conservative and liberal churches alike (except maybe the Unitarian-Universalists, if they can be called a church). But the impact of this will be worse for the churches that refuse to acknowledge this sea change.