Serving up a slice of American Pie

Been watching the videos from the The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) soiree in Atlanta sponsored by the erstwhile Arcus Foundation (so much for actually having an open “conversation” – this political action event turned out to be overwhelmingly segregated, but then Maryland found that out recently as well).

Watching the videos from the SCLM is a  bit like watching a house on fire and the fire fighters have finally given up, just letting it burn to the ground.

As I watched the press conference, this classic song came to mind:

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.

Here is the SCLM Press Conference:

http://player.ooyala.com/player.js?height=358&embedCode=90aHRiMjrbXOhWXNINJ47ftK3idokK6f&deepLinkEmbedCode=90aHRiMjrbXOhWXNINJ47ftK3idokK6f&width=480

The self-congratulatory attitude of the speakers – not one holding a divergent view that perhaps the Episcopal Church is taking a careening turn over the theological cliff is given voice, speaks volumes.  So much for robust conversations.  This isn’t a conversation, it’s a political strategic action, but they are not alone.

Theo Hobson, writing in the Guardian focuses his attention on the rise of a liberal self righteous subculture, quite evident in TEC.  But even as we reflect on this, the warning the writer makes to liberals is worth soberly reflecting for other well-meaning groups as well.

Segregation by affinity, masked as inclusive conversations (and they are masks) appears so often to lead to a kind of cultic separatism, a kind of self-inflicted ghetto. I saw this happen in the charasmatic movement in the 80s, as well as the prolife movement in the 90s.  Even as we look on these videos from TEC, should we not also pause to consider whether other responses are just as segregated? Are we so confident in our position, that we fail to realize that humility has left the building?

If we truly resist encouraging robust conversations that are not just political techniques to move a particular agenda forward (whatever that issue may be) does this not signal that we are no longer confident that the Truth really does set us free?  It is for freedom Christ came to set us free – do we truly believe this is so?  What may sometimes feel like doubting does not mean that we are no longer are confident in Christ (in fact, Oswald Chambers wrote that doubt means we are thinking, and certainly doubt led to my conversion) but rather than we are humble to recognize that we don’t actually know everything.  Daring to doubt means we are listening.

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast …

Imagine if we gathered not because we are strong, but because we are weak.