Sunday, October 31, 2004

Conservative Persecutors Need Weekends Too

There hasn't been anything new actually new in the Anglo-Druid story, but I suppose that this has been a blessing to the anti-conservatives, who were having a little trouble getting their RPMs up up on this at first.

But they are reporting in now about how vicious and (don't forget this part) backward we "conservatives" are. Now it's probably just me, but I don't see "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" as being a particularly conservative principle. But I guess I'm out of touch.

I'll start with the Salty Vicar. It worries me a bit when people start identifying themselves with biblical condiments, because most of the popular ones-- salt, mustard-- can render your food inedible if not downright toxic in large quantities. Anyway, it seems my inner Pharisee has been outed:

Conservatives should be careful. If they get hijacked by the intemperate, they will be revealed to be... sadly human in their mob mentality, more passionate about perversion, than enthusiastic in evangelising. I submit to you, if they had the fire of the gospel, they would seek to convert those wayward druids, rather than burn and ruin them.

I'm actually on record in a few places about this one. I'm not at all happy about the injury that seemingly must be inflicted on this couple in the course of this. But I also do not see how it can be avoided. It's not an unreasonable conclusion that the Church cannot have these two representing it as its clergy.

More to the point, Rev. Salty, what are you doing about converting them? What-- nothing at all? Come on, Rev; Mr. Rev. Melnyk has offered to communicate by e-mail.

And "mob mentality"? How about the sheer delight in ferreting out the trail which our druids have so thoroughly failed to cover up?

THen we have this from Father Jake:

Answer me honestly; if the rites these two priests developed were originally a Jewish rite, or even a Muslim or Buddhist rite, would everyone be so upset? I don't think so. Christians have a built in bias against anything Pagan. And that is what this latest flap is really all about.

Well, um, the obvious difficulty with this analogy is that what was posted on the national church website was, as Ted Olsen so helpfully pointed out, a carefully crafted Anti-Jewish rite. It almost sounds like a seminary assignment:

"Write a liturgy contravening at least the first commandment. Use ritual acts denounced by at least two OT prophets."

One can at least do something with Buddhism that isn't so determinedly perverse, and one can at least pretend that Allah and YHWH are different names for the same thing. What set people off so about this "liturgy" was how an office of the national church could have the gall/stupidity to put up instructions for comitting sins that I at least thought we got out of our systems during the Babylonian Captivity.

So I have to ask you clerics: do you have a problem with you, personally, with conducting or participating in such a rite? (Not you, Al-- I know you'ld be a "happy druid".)


Fred Goodwin said...

Fr. Melnyk has apparently chosen Virtuosity Online to answer his critics:

He joined the website on the 30th, and has made three posts, all to the same thread.

Fred Goodwin
Diocese of West Texas

Anonymous said...

Hi, Charlie. Just discovered your blog. Yes, I'd be a happy Druid--if only I could pretend Jesus wasn't Lord ... :-)


John said...

Thank you for the challenge Fred. In other settings [when he was in my diocese] I had discussed with Bill some of his unusual beliefs. I believe, that when he trusts his conversation partners, he is open-minded - his gift is that he forces liberal and conservative clergy to address some very serious theological issues which the unchurched face. It can get heated, but he is thoughtful, plain spoken, and truthful. That said, he has had a persecution complex, which doesn't get better because, I submit, he's been persecuted - private conversations, for example, that were meant to be truth seeking were abused.

He was well-respected for his administrative work and his abilities to get parishes to be more disciplined financially and create systems of pastoral health.

That said, I don't think he's right. I would not want him to preach druidry from the pulpit. But, as I said before, even though I think his druidry is unchristian, the orthodox should recognize that their passion does not exemplify the way Christians should treat one another, or even people who are outside the community.

I also think that we should be careful as Christians, because the Gods of materialism and Hollywood, to me, are much more serious enemies. We risk being distracted.

John said...

As far as your question regarding could I participate in such a rite. Well, I have problems participating in most Protestant and interfaith services, although I can be a good guest.

I have prayed at Islamic services [as a guest], but I pray the Lord's prayer in my head. I don't, in practice, see much difference between a meditative buddhist service and my own contemplation, and usually this has been with Jesuits. Every time I've done this I've been able to fill a role as teacher of Christianity [often, they are Christians who have superficial notions of Christianity, and consider it abusive and authoritarian].

I doubt I would be able to participate in a "druidic" ceremony as anything but a Christian. I would instinctively map my own Christian understanding into the service. The words would probably wash over me as contrived and silly. In the end, I would be thinking of God in Jesus Christ. It would be the only way for me to even get through the service.

I also don't believe in the existence of other deities. There is only God. There is Jesus Christ as God. As existence supposes non-existence, there is also the anti-Christ.

Nature posits a more complicated problem. God, in the Old Testament, is sometimes a God of nature. God also transcends nature. But practically, I think there are conceptual issues regarding worshiping nature, which is a very destructive force. Still, God in the old testament does seem to use nature to get his point across. I'm wary about this view. A few Democrats, for example, noted that God seemed to be punishing Florida for voting Republican. I don't hold this view, but that might be a consequence of conflating god with nature.

A more serious issue is the tendency of people to worship Gaia as the new God. This is gaining more adherence among a cool, sophisticated and wealthy set. Christians don't have a good response to Gaia yet. I believe it might resides in the call ofr Christians to become better stewards, while insisting in the power of human agency and thought.

I couldn't conduct a druidic service. I have s much authority in that system as I do in Islam, Judaism or any other religion. Doesn't help that I don't believe in its efficacy, except insofar as it represents God's true redeeming grace through love.