LETTER FROM AMERICA
Michael Heidt on decline and fall
Perhaps itís a result of the Fall but whatever the reason, human beings sometimes lose sight of reality and do so dramatically. They get so used to acting in singular ways that they begin to think their behaviourís normative, when in reality itís bizarre and eccentric. America, with its strange mixture of faddism and conformity is perhaps more liable than most to fall into this delusion. The aging scions of Flower Power are certainly no exception to the rule and we do well to remember how caught up America was in the whirlwind of change brought on by the utopian ferment of the 1960s. Woodstock was massive and the Ginsbergs of the time may have had a point when they announced that if only the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane had called for an armed revolution it would have happened. Well, Ginsberg is dead now, Tim Leary is no longer respected as a prophet and just about everyone knows that LSD is bad for you. But we mustnít fool ourselves that the psychedelic delusions of the olden days have died out, their graying adherents are still with us and they occupy positions of influence, especially on the East and West Coasts of the USA.
Here its plain to see that radical feminism, "free love," and a hatred of "The Man," the gentleman in question being classical Christian culture, hold sway in the hearts and minds of quondam hippies and associated leftist allies. Old habits die hard and, for the American Left, extremism has become normative. We saw this in the recent election, with the Democratic Party sincerely believing it could win over a country with a Sunday church attendance of well over 150 million souls. And win them to what? Gay marriage, partial birth abortion, appeasement and, it goes without saying, outlawing the expression of Christian belief in the public forum.
A majority of Americans, thank God, were not prepared to buy into this, with Bush leading by 3.5 million in the popular vote, 4 million more votes than Reagan won in his 1984 landslide. Among weekly churchgoers, Bush gained 61%, many of whom were conservative Protestant but even Catholics showed signs of changing their historic allegiance away from the Democratic Party. For example, in the swing state of Ohio, 65% of Catholics came out for Bush, Iowa also, with its large Catholic population defected to the GOP and Wisconsin was barely held by Kerry. This is reassuring but hardly surprising, everyone knows that America has a large, practicing Christian population and a conservative one at that. Everyone that is, except the Liberals, who seem to have forgotten that most people, in America at least, do not support their anti Christian agenda.
Gerald Warner puts it vigorously:
"The whole vile, patronising agenda of the bespectacled drabby wimmin, the Florida conspiracy bores, the wine-bar Europhiles and the Hollywood freak show has been trashed. Infanticide is out of fashion; embryos may not be cannibalised much longer; Butch and Sundance will not be taking a trip down the aisle in their lifetimes..."
The problem, though, is that whilst the majority of Americans have come out against the above, ECUSA appears unwilling to abandon the antique doctrines of the secular Left. Some, for sure, have expressed regret for the pain and grief caused by their precipitate championing of the Free Love lobby, but they donít really understand how they could have caused it in the first place. Bishop Chane, who has agreed to halt Same Sex Blessings for now, speaks for them:
"I recognise...I have caused pain. I want to say, with all humility, that this was not my intent. It remains puzzling to me that no one objects to my baptizing the children of gay parents, blessing their home, their car and their dog, yet I cannot bless the loving relationship which makes this familyís life possible without upsetting so many of our Anglican brothers and sisters."
One shouldnít doubt the goodwill of the Bishop of Washington, many think that he has a genuine concern to "do whatís right," Iím sure he does, its just that his conscience doesnít seem desperately informed by the teaching of the Church. Others, of course, are actively hostile. Here in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Internet sleuths unearthed the Revs. Wysoak and Raven, an interesting husband and wife "ministry team" with a penchant for Druidism. Evidently, theyíd been composing pagan liturgies for years but only got found out after some of their offerings were published on the ECUSA website in an all too predictable "wimminís liturgy." Wysoakís Vestry (PCC) forced him to resign, his wife, Raven, was more fortunate. She remains in charge of her parish, doubtless having convinced the Parish Council of the wisdom of Wicker Men, Beltane, standing stones and associated Crowleyism. Such is ECUSA, its in thrall to the hoary orthodoxy of Haight Ashbury, leaving classical Christianity, to say nothing of Catholicism, barely a look in.
As such, the once grand, self-defined, "thinking manís Church," has become a spiritual reflection of the more extremist elements of the Democratic Party. With their secular friends, they find themselves out of touch with a country that is predominantly conservative and Christian. Like them, theyíre not about to win any elections, with the Episcopal Church losing an estimated 30,000 people in the last year alone, equivalent to the disappearance of three of our small to medium size dioceses. This, no less than the conservative victory at the polls should serve as a reality check to our part of the Church. As Archbishop Akinola stated in his open letter to President Bush, "By your victory at the polls, you have put to shame the revisionists and their agenda in the Church of Christ... I hope that by your election victory, these ordained men and women will feel rebuked and be forced to repent."
Orthodox Anglicans in America share the Archbishopís hope, though they have little grounds for confidence given the prevalent heterodoxy of the "Democratic Party at prayer." They may take greater solace from the mood of the country at large, which, if itís anything, is on their side.
Michael Heidt is parish priest of St Johnís, Norristown, Pensylvania
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