As Clean as the Driven Snow

I put up the post below at Neighborhood of God on September 9, 2005. After reading Turn’s post on the University of Delaware’s outrageous “white is wrong“ indoctrination, not to mention Fjordman’s discussion of White Studies earlier today, I was reminded of some of my own experiences as a white oppressor.

It’s been two years and unfortunately, things haven’t changed except for the worse. The post was occasioned by a guilt-ridden white Episcopalian priest’s mea culpa for his “sin” of white racism. The Presiding Bishop that I mention has been replaced by yet another one, this time a woman. She told The New York Times that Episcopalians ought not to reproduce…

…honestly, she said that. Read it here.

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I called this post:

No More Mea Culpas for Breathing While White

(September 9, 2005)

Ready for a little soap box rant? If not, skip this and move on to next blog.

What follows is a letter to the editor of our diocesan newspaper. The editor neither printed it or acknowledged my epistle, so — given the power of blogdom — here is reprinted my letter for all five readers who are given to dropping into the Neighborhood when they’re in the area. That’s five more than read it before it found its way into Mr. G’s circular file.

First, a little background. The Baron and I are Episcopalians, though we are not what the born-into’s call “cradle Episcopalians.” We are members in good standing — at the moment — because it seemed like a good compromise between my former Catholicism (I had to leave when I divorced and remarried) and his former Methodism, which he remembered fondly from his youth but quit attending as he grew up. Or maybe when his parents stopped going; I forget.

Anyway, I love the potential of the Episcopal Church. I need a faith community with a sacramental basis and one which celebrates a liturgical year that is similar — if not identical — to the one I grew up with. I love the rubrics, the traditions, the whole gestalt. Being received into the Episcopal Church felt like coming home.

It doesn’t feel much like that anymore. Maybe it’s me; maybe it’s the people in charge. For example, the Baron got all enthused about church blogging when he read Hugh Hewitt’s Blog and he wanted to start one for the diocese. You can imagine the reception that idea got in a top-down hierarchical bureaucracy complete with a ministry of communications (run by someone from the MSM, by the way). The fear and loathing evidenced by the p.i.c. (people in charge) was disheartening. Their compromise was to discuss it at their leader’s retreat sometime in the Fall and then meet in a committee and assign tasks, etc. Now there’s a real prophetic outlook.

But I digress. I came here to talk about — dare I say it? — racism. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of talking about it, thinking about it, and certainly giving any more energy to it. All the talk does is bloat the perceived resentments of the “victims” and the masochistic tendencies of those who beg to be forgiven for being white. What follows is a response to a letter from a priest who loudly beats his breast about his racism and calls on us to work harder to eliminate this scourge from our church. We must attend more meetings, give forth with more pronouncements, and generally crawl until we are told we may get up and get on with doing something useful. Like educating our children in the ways of our traditions and the sharing of our faith.

Here’s my response to the letter, “THE SIN OF RACISM,” which appeared in The Jamestown Cross some months back:

‘The Sin of Racism’: A Reader’s Response

The downward spiral of the Episcopal Church in its rush to irrelevance can nowhere be seen more clearly than in the enormous amount of leadership energy now spent on 1970’s-style consciousness raising. Periodically, congregations are subjected to yet more hortatory about the need for right thinking. Once again, congregations are shown to be lagging behind the bureaucracy: whether it be race or gender or Palestine, Episcopalians have to be in line with whatever the politically correct thinking is at the moment.

Surely there is not a white Episcopalian left who has not discovered with great personal dismay his own covert racist thinking? Right? As a racism workshop facilitator once said, “if you’re white, you’re wrong.” This facilitator also told his audience that it’s inherently impossible, given the racist culture in America, for a black person to be racist. How’s that for the ultimate in condescension?

– – – – – – – –

My bona fides: I am white, but I live in a black community. I was married in a black church. Back when it was authentically cross-cultural, I was a member of the NAACP. In fact, we have some black people in our family.

Those who would condemn others for their failures to think correctly simply don’t understand the hard-wiring in the human soul. We are born with a capacity to prefer our own kind. Watch any child encounter a stranger and you can experience the primitive startle effect that leads to a preference to be with one’s own. This inclination toward the known is neither sinful nor wrong; it is human.

Game theory has shown that when members of a community are left to their own devices, groups of similars will collect or ‘bunch’ together. It is not deliberate segregation, it is congregation. Ask the black students on any campus who they prefer to hang with. And then ask them if this preference is racist.

In the continuing rush to right thinking, it is the children who lose out. The Law of Unintended Consequences is easily seen in the effects on children of both no-fault divorce and mandated diversity. The idea that culture can be sorted out and regulated is surely one of the most pernicious legacies from the 20th century. It is past time to move beyond this dated, statist thinking.

I’ll be the first in line when a commission is formed to investigate the harm which accrues to children from illegitimacy and illiteracy. With all the oxygen in the room being consumed by correct thinking, though, it seems there isn’t any left over for the kids. Bill Cosby had it right when he said the main problems facing black children have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with poor decisions. Now whose fault is that?

We are Christ’s people. We need to be about our Father’s business and we already have a Creed to tell us what that business is. The statements of Fr. Kelly’s Creed — the ones that begin with an individual examination of guilty conscience and ends with a call for a permanent national Episcopal committee on racism — are jarringly wrong-headed. How about a national committee to make illiteracy uncool? That would be both Christian and cogent. How about a church which devotes its energy to strengthening the good rather than a church which is compelled to wallow in its own sinfulness? If I wanted to be a Calvinist, I would not have chosen to be an Episcopalian.

Once upon a time, the Episcopal Church was at the forefront of educating children to the fact of their individual free will and their membership, via Baptism, in the City of God. Now it seems that we stand only for the further balkanization by race which has so grievously retarded our culture.

Race and ethnicity are accidental. They are not instrumental in our salvation.

Emmanuel Church, Glenmore

I will have more to say about the history of Episcopal schools in this country — before they became the haven for the well-to-do — and how they led the way to public education in the 19th century. The Episcopal Church needs to get back to its roots and it needs to get back there quickly. It is becoming irrelevant so fast that it’s almost invisible.

And lest you think this is not a top-down problem, I leave you with the sentiments of our current Presiding Bishop, stated in the first few days following 9/11. This consecrated man of God, Frank Griswold, elected to his position by members of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, said that he was ashamed to be an American. He made me ashamed to be an Episcopalian.

“Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.”

You know, I really like these new soapboxes. Much lighter than the old ones…probably made in China.

I can probably reprint this again every few years, changing only the name of the Presiding Bishop. Nothing else will have changed.

But here’s a bigger irony. Anglican missionaries from Africa — indigenous Africans — are coming to the United States to see if they can save our sorry Episcopalian souls:

We are now seeing a remarkable development. For two hundred years and more, Western nations have sent Christian missionaries to the continent of Africa. Now, in a remarkable turn of events, the Africans are sending missionaries to us.

Take what is happening in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. The stalwart defenders of orthodoxy are a group of Anglican archbishops from Africa–representatives of the so-called Global South. These archbishops are so concerned that they are offering oversight to American congregations who are deeply concerned about the Episcopal Church.

History abounds with ironies, and this one is rich. Even as so many of the more liberal churches stopped sending missionaries to Africa, the churches in Africa started sending missionaries to the United States. This is a development worth watching and a sign that the center of gravity in world Christianity is shifting to places like Africa, and away from Europe and North America. We have become mission fields.

30 thoughts on “As Clean as the Driven Snow

  1. As a onetime member of the Presbyterian Church USA I share in your lament for the state of the Episcopal Church. Both churchs have a great tradition, yet are squandering it with their leftist political correctness.

    The PCUSA (never was there a better double entendre) has lost about 40% of it’s membership since 1967, and the slide continues.

    Today I go to an independent church. I suppose you could classify us as evangelical. We’re certainly conservative.

    All I’ll say is keep up the good fight in the Episcopal Church. Best wishes.

  2. Ahhhhhhh, now I understand your antipathy to the Latin MassL the whole divorced-left-the Church thing that made you turn to the Epispos ( Catholic Light )

    You Epispos brought all your troubles down upon your own selves, so have no one else to blame. If you don’t start performing radical surgery on your ‘religion’, it will quickly and quietly disappear within the next few years

  3. I have an antipathy to the Latin Mass??

    Where did you get that?

    Have you been sipping the wine in the sacristy again? No wonder that bottle goes down so fast.

    I think the Latin Mass is history, but I don’t dislike it. It’s part of *my* history, why woudl I hate it?

    I still like Gregorian Chant too. Wanna hear the alto for Panis Angelicus?

    OTOH, I don’t think one can go home again, and those who try to drag the Tridentine Mass back into the light of day are doomed to fail and to fall into bitterness…

    Hey, a run of almost 400 years isn’t bad…but it ain’t eternity, either.

  4. As an outsider, I continue to wonder about the role of religion in society vs. the influence of our society on religion. From your description and Tom-the-redhunter it seems that society forms the church and not the other way around. If that’s the case, a more general change in culture may be needed before religions return to more traditional ways of thinking.

    The new ethics holds that everything is subjective except for the sole sin of racism and other new demographic equivalents. Everything is reduced to racism, sexism, ageism, species-ism, etc. As I talk to my leftist friends they are unwilling to see evil in the world except for the isms I’ve listed above. It’s an interesting paradox: relativism coupled with a hyper condemnation of racism. Of course, racism is now described as breathing-while-white.

    Why has this collectivist nonsense taken over every institution? Why do we find it in the most educated members of the university to the local church? It does seem that no institution is exempt. The philosophy of the day permeates every corner. Art, science, and religion follow. I continue to come back to the question, what comes first?

  5. Jason Pappas–

    I believe theology follows physics. Our world view is what drives our belief system…

    Of course, when Theology was shoved off the throne by Philosophy, who was in her turn, knocked off by Science, you began to get a Scientism that stood in place well for some as an ersatz “religion.”

    Religion is defined by some as your “ultimate concern.” — Paul Tillichs’ phrase. In other words, whatever you most worship is your god…or G-d.

    For poor Dr. Tillich, as great a theologian as he was in his time, his ultimate concern was to bed as many co-eds as possible. Sad but true: he suffered from a bad case of satyriasis, just like one of our former presidents.

    …but it was really Physics that turned everything on its head. I don’t see anything replacing it soon, except maybe our growing knowledge of gene expression…

    Exciting times. The problem with relgious language is that it has a hard time catching up with the reality Physics presents.

    And, of course, there is the age-old problem that most people don’t get any religious training beyond the old man in the sky. Many people are left in the second grade, barely able to print…

  6. The slide of the mainline denominations like the PCUSA and the Episcopal church dates back to the 1920s and 30s when higher criticism was adopted from continental Europe. Once the Bible became another mere human document, and not the Word of God, there was no point in believing it and man became the ultimate authority.

    Several churches split off from the PCUSA: the OPC, the PCA, the RPCNA, and others, all because of this issue.

  7. The Episcopal Church is really in a bad state, I totally agree. I stopped going years ago when the turn towards leftist political correctness began. Now most sermons are about global warming, American arrogance, and mostly about how the problems of the world have been caused by us. It is a very disappointing sect to belong to…they focus less and less on Christian stories and teachings and more on tolerance and multiculturalism.

  8. Another though: The Episcopal Church is also on the forefront in warning about “overpopulation.” Anyone who is knowledgeable about current demographics knows that Western populations are shrinking, and quickly, while Muslim populations are exploding. Episcopal preachers look down upon large families and almost encourage people to go through life alone.

  9. John Wheelock —

    In the first part of this post I have a link to the current Presiding Bishop saying just that.

    Meanwhile, on PJM, Dr Helen has an essay on why marriage is not so hot for men. Last time I looked there were over a hundred comments (99% from men)agreeing with her.

    Here’s a hotlink for your homepage — you know how lazy we are:

    Grizzly Mountain

    (There’s a template for doing this just above the comments section on the second page of each post)

  10. Dymphna, have you ever looked at any of the Continuing Anglican Churches? These are Churches that left the Episcopal Church, in most cases about the time that ECUSA began to ordain women and brought out the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Most of the parishes are smaller, but the theology is much, much more solid. You might want to look at the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Catholic Church, The Diocese of The Holy Cross, or any of several others that I could help you find. It would show you a very traditional form of Anglican theology, rather than the liberal, watered down wasteland of the ECUSA (now calling itself TEC, I think).

  11. So, D, because something existed in the past, it should not remain in the present?

    Oro pro nobis, and let us also count the rhetorical fallacies in your reply. I’m not dragging anything anywhere: the Tridentine Mass is already Back, here in the Uneasy Present under the sun, and those Catholics who want to attend that service should be able to do so.

    As you have left the Church, D, you don’ get no say no more. I mentioned it about a year ago, and you went Ballistic: “Don’t get me started”, etc

    I tried to stick up for your post at LGF, BTW, and got a lot of their petty little ‘minus’ dings, and a lizoid yelling ‘bullshit’ at me, which hurt my feelings so much I can’t stop weeping ( laughing )

    That site is turning into KOS, Part Deux, with a amen chorus.

    The Tridentine Mass liturgy is beautiful, no? And worthy of being preserved?

  12. Simon, you are a bit touchy about things that never happened. I simply left a note here to Dymphna. I have never been an RC, so I did not leave “The Church” (I think that is what you mean, or did you mean ECUSA/TEC?) I have never posted the words “Don’t get me started” anywhere, and I have never posted anything on LGF. So, calm down, don’t take offense at a message that was not addressed to you, and just take it easy.

  13. Dr. D–

    That rebuke was addressed to me, as D., I don’t think Mr. de Monfort was taking exception to anything you said. He doesn’t like my attitude to the old Latin Mass, which is essentially, “sic transit gloria mundi.”

    And I am likely to say “don’t get me started…” as that is the name of a column in our local paper. Sometimes I use it ironically.

    Thank you for the information about the Anglican Church. I agree, the theology is solid. It’s more a matter of logistics…we live so far from everything. A friend of ours makes the long trek to town, but it’s — as they say around here — a right long way.

    One of the things I like is their emphasis on the education of children. And yes, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is better, though the decidedly penitential tone takes some getting used to.

  14. Dymphna, I wanted to make two further comments about the Continuing Anglican Churches, and then I will say no more.
    1) I’m not quite clear where you live, but I gather that it is some place in Virginia. Virginia has more Continuing Churches per square mile than just about any other state in the country, so I am pretty sure if you were to look seriously you would find one within driving distance (that does not mean right in your town).
    2) Many Continuing Churches use the Anglican Missal for Mass which is quite a bit more high church. It is very similar to a Tridentine Mass, it has all of the same parts, but it is, of course, all in English and it is very beautiful. You might find this attractive (or you might not).
    I am a Lay Reader in one of the Continuing Churches, and I have connections in several of them. If I can help you find a parish, please write to me at my e-mail address (I think you have this from my site registration). I would be happy to help you.

  15. Dr. D–

    The only thing we have available to contact people is their blogger profile. Yours just says you’ve been on since August and gives your name.

    My email (on our page also) is

    I’d like to know what you have in Central Va since that is where we are.

  16. BTW, Simon de M:

    I have often been advised to get an annulment of my first marriage as, under Canon Law, I seem to be entitled to such.

    However, there is a point at which the Law kills the spirit. I don’t think it would be good for my family or his (and I’m fond of his family) for me to undertake such an endeavor.

    You say:

    As you have left the Church, D, you don’ get no say no more. I mentioned it about a year ago, and you went Ballistic: “Don’t get me started”, etc

    I disagree. I get to say whatever I want within the bounds of decency and civility.

    “Don’t get me started” is an ironic statement. You held onto *that* for a year???

    And when I do go ballistic — or “Ballistic” — as you say, believe me you will know it.

    You seem to consistently misread me, sir, which could cause large bruises on your moral shins as you leap to your erroneous conclusions.

  17. Would someone please post a pointer to a place where Griswold “said that he was ashamed to be an American.”

    We have been searching for some time and can’t find one.

  18. Larry–

    These are two snips, one from a Chicago paper, and one in Newark…

    I believe they are 2003: Forgot to get the URLs — have a migraine, unfortunately.

    I could not find the original comment, however, so these will have to do. They’re close:

    The top bishop of the Episcopal Church, in a stinging rebuke of American foreign policy, said the United States is rightly “hated and loathed” around the world for its “reprehensible” rhetoric and blind eye toward poverty and suffering.

    “I’d like to be able to go somewhere in the world and not have to apologize for being from the United States,” Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold 3rd said Friday in an interview with Religion News Service.

    Griswold, head of the 2.3million-member church, blasted the Bush administration for its wartime rhetoric, especially labeling Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil.”

    “Quite apart from the bombs we drop, words are weapons and we have used our language so unwisely, so intemperately, so thoughtlessly … that I’m not surprised we are hated and loathed everywhere I go,” he said.

    While he has tried to avoid “shouting and screaming,” the 65-year-old prelate has stepped up his verbal tempo in pointed rebukes of how the United States treats the rest of the world, particularly with its money.

    Speaking Sunday at the Washington National Cathedral to mark his fifth anniversary as presiding bishop, Griswold said American reluctance to spend more on AIDS in Africa is “a manifestation of evil” and a “form of sin from which we as a nation are called to repent.”

    Griswold said the AIDS pandemic poses a far graver security threat to the United States by spawning a generation of orphans who live in abject poverty in fragile African democracies.

    “We are loathed, and I think the world has every right to loathe us, because they see us as greedy, self-interested and almost totally unconcerned about poverty, disease and suffering,” he said.

  19. Larry–

    Do you mean these aren’t “quotations” because I didn’t cite the sources?

    One is a Newark paper and one is the Chicago Sun. I believe they’re both 2003, but I’ not certain.

    Since my migraine is gone now, I will try to find the URLs after church.

    If you’re *that* interested, why not use Lexis-Nexis? Or is your real point to make me appear untruthful?

  20. Since I did not cut and paste her URL at the time, I have emailed Cathleen Falsani, the Religion writer at the Chicago Suntimes. Her article appeared on February 17,2003. Perhaps she has the URL but I think it may be stale-dated by now.

    The other piece is from the Newark Star-Ledger on January 14, 2003. The byline is Kevin Eckstrom of the Religion News Service. He has a blog so I will try to find out if he still has a URL.

    When I filed these, I forgot the URLs. I’m not willing to pay the archival premium just to satisfy what seems to me to be a hostile attitude re my quoting Griswold.

    When he was in office he was blatantly left-wing and had a “dialogue-to-the-death-with-our enemies” approach. It’s not a viewpoint I respect and it’s not a strategy that has helped anyone using it.

    I wasn’t anxious to see him go as I knew he’d be replaced with someone even less congenial to Christian beliefs. Turned out I was right…

    …And, yes, I *do* have the URL for her, which I linked in this post. Even the New York Times reporter was taken aback by her strange theology.

    This is all the energy I’m willing to put to the subject for someone whose nic is blind and lacks even an email link.

    Wonder whose brave sock puppet *you* are, “Larry”…

  21. Well.

    I had a lengthy comment before the “nic” one above, but I don’t know what happened to it.

    I’ll try again.

    I don’t know how of why I have attracted the negative vibs here–a less sensitive person would think I was on the the same side of the fence, nor or less, as y’all.

    But life is full of things I don’t understand.

    I pointed this article out to my wife who has a great interest in such things (being a cradle Episcopalian and a Deacon and all).

    She reported that she was unable to find where Griswold had said what he was quoted here as saying.

    I too was unable to find it and it is important to us (who don’t buy in much to FOAF and hesaidshesaidhesaid stuff) to know if the context was liturgical, theological, or doctrinal.

    It appears that it was nothing more than the usual leftist hate America claptrap and did not have anything what ever to with being an Episcopalian, the Episcopalian denomination or even by any stretch anything to do with Christian beliefs.

    I’ll try harder not to read you stuff here and I will definitely try to tighten up the ship on what I tell other people about when I make a mistake and follow a pointer here.

  22. Larry–

    If you left a comment it did not register. All comments come through our email system and it wasn’t there either. So it was obvioulsy bloogered.

    If you look at your profile accessed from this comment page, you will see what it says:

    The Blogger Profile you requested cannot be displayed. Many Blogger users have not yet elected to publicly share their Profile.

    If I came across as testy, you came across as, at best, terse and anonymous. I gave you the quotations and the newspapers they’d appeared in. I simply neglected to save the URLS, which are by now 4 years old.

    Your response to my two quotations was simply:

    “In other words, no quotations available.”

    To say the least, your comment was dismissive of the 300 words worth of quotation I provided.

    I had given the newspaper source, the year, and in once of them, the place where he said those words.

    When I went to get your email to explain this, all that was available was a “profile not available” wall.

    I apologize if I misinterpreted your dsire for anonymity. We have been harrassed lately by trolls and I am weary of it.

    Based on your experience I with this I wouldn’t advise other people to read here, either.

    However, as a fellow-commenter (since I do comment frequently at other blogs) I would say that a “please” or “thank you” or a “I don’t find your quotation without a URL sufficient” wouldn’t have hurt. At least then I’d know what you were referring to…

    As it was, I am left to figure out why you are using the style of communication you employed here.

  23. “In other words, no quotations available.”

    My bad. I should have said “no citations available”.

    “As it was, I am left to figure out why you are using the style of communication you employed here.”

    I am me, my style, or lack of it is who I am.

    Probably explains why I have never been gotten rich from my writings.

    And I still don’t understand the anonymity thing. This posting like every other that I make to this software has my Google account name attached to it.

    And as for the lost posting, there is apparently a way to fail the captcha test and not notice it. It seems to happen to me with distressing regularity. It would seem like I would be more wary.


  24. Larry–

    Do you mean by “no online citation” that no URL accompanies my quotes? You’re right. Way back then, I was still learning the protocols for citations in blogs, so I didn’t think to capture the URL.

    My ignorance.

    Even if I had done it correctly at the time, it would have dated out by now, so the point would be moot. Anything archived that far back would be behind a premium wall.

    Cathleen Falsani, the religion writer from the Chicago Suntimes, wrote back and said she didn’t have it any longer. She gave me the URL for a “find article ” search, but it only cites the titles. No pay, no see.

    By the time the next presiding bishop showed up, I knew about URLs. That’s why I have her words preserved in amber… for the moment. But eventually, *that* URL too will disappear.

    Sic transit gloria…

  25. Yes, Dymphna, I hold onto lotsa things for years and years, and I was kidding; joshing; yanking your chain; having you on; speaking tongue in cheek; taking a piss, as the British say

    These threads are getting Tense lately, or always were and I didn’t see it clearly enough. That Anglican fellow who jumped me is a Case in Point. He was clueless all the way through his screed

    Europe may be Doomed, but we can have a few laughs on the way to Armageddon…….

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