A number of thoughts and issues I'd like to work out but it will probably take a number of days to find the words and time to post on them, especially as they pertain to the election. But there was a controversy which erupted during this last week in the Episcopal Church and it was over a liturgy which used goddess language and it's posting on the website of the Women's Division of the church. The response of the right was quick, furious and over the top, accusing the Episcopal Church of promoting idol worship
How was this idol worship? The feminine language, lifted from the Bible, "The Queen of Heaven" in particular, are subject to idol polemic throughout the Old Testament. But in the liturgy these names are recast. Instead of refering to foreign gods, they become recast as feminine images of God. Given this how can one read this as a call to "worship pagan deities"? Isn't there a difference between: believing that certain feminine images are distinct deities versus believing that certain feminine images can be used to refer to the one God?
I wonder if there wasn't a distinction, which would have been helpful for Christianity Today and other's who issued the charge of idol worship. The distinction between the words which we use in worship and God. Our words are not God, they may point us in this direction but they can't be collapsed together. And yet people spoke as if there was a christian deity and a pagan deity and a muslim one as well. A committment to monotheism would suggest that there is no such thing as a "Christian God" or a "Muslim God"...there is just God and the ways that particular religious communities have sought to interact with such a reality. And we can disagree on what is the most appropriate language, but that's what this is about, not about different deities.
But the sad part of the story was the effort to go after the two Episcopalian priests from Pennsylvania who were the source of the liturgy: Rev. Glyn Lorraine Ruppe Melnyk, and her husband Rev.Bill Melnyk. Apparently they were also involved with a local druidic society and calls for investigation against these two folks were taken up by their bishop Charles Bennison who is regarded as a liberal within the Episcopal Church. The investigation could lead to some sort of church discipline, I'm not sure but within days the Philadelphia Inquirer had an article about the 2 minister's resgination from that society and an open letter to Bennison confessing their sins in this affair. Does the letter have a feel of something coerced?
I repent of and recant without qualification anything and everything I may have said or done which is found to be in conflict with the Baptismal Covenant, and the historical Creeds of the Church
I suppose it's hard for someone outside of these events to know, but given the vigorous defense these two folks were just recently giving over their activities, to have this letter immediately come out with the claims it makes (even thanking the right wing blogs for pointing out their errors) makes me wonder. I wonder about a church which could force people into this position? Are the concerns of the institution trumping conscience? Is our religion taken to be the object of devotion so that any other expression of faith must be at odds (as opposed to seeing worship as that which points us to God)?