Skip to comments.The Spirituality of Elitist Revolutions
Posted on 05/09/2006 4:35:24 PM PDT by sionnsar
Ever wonder why the mainline denominations have gone to war over sodomy? Does anyone really believe this issue is the moral equivalent to slavery in the 19th century, or segregated lunch counters in the 20th? Or, for that matter, to slavery and genocide in the 21st century, both of which get a "pass" from the more refined activism of today's church leaders?
How has the leadership of the Episcopal Church (along with others) decided that now is the time and this is the issue; that it is worth dividing congregations and communions?
These same leaders would insist that gay liberation is the natural successor to the movements that preceded it. They would point to the handful of minority representatives in their front offices who can be counted on to sing in chorus that all liberations are created equal. They would say, in effect, that the New Spirit of Christ came not to bring peace but a sword; let us throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may.
But why is the present argument more intense and more shrill than the fashionable protests of preceding decades? Is this really the pinnacle of moral discourse in the churches and in democratic societies, or is time running out on moral discourse, whether fashionable or not?
Put in another way: why has the liberal machine, in church and society, put its eggs in this basket? Whose approval do they seek, and what do they hope to accomplish? And why the note of desperation as they approach still another ideological victory on another hot button issue?
For many religious groups in America protest has become a religion. A few months ago as I drove past the local Unitarian Church in my hometown, I read on the marquis: "Freedom to Marry." At the time a number of states were considering legislation regarding same-sex unions. Here, then, was a cause du jour. Gay marriage was inserted into the blank where peace had been a few weeks earlier and some reference to the environment a few weeks before that. People's responses would be the same in each case. I realized that the cause fulfilled a need. People needed to feel outraged over the manifest aggression of some unseen Oppressor and empowered by their rage.
In America people often protest not because they believe in causes, but because they believe in protest. They "believe" in the ritual sense that the familiar form of protest mediates to them feelings of assurance and righteousness. Such ritualized mediation is the basis of religious practice. The cause doesn't matter, whether it be genocide or vegetarianism. The essence is: They are trying to oppress Us (again) and so we must assert ourselves and protest.
I whine, therefore I am.
It is noteworthy that there is no risk in today's protests. The new protesters are not accustomed to fighting for their lives but (at most) for their lifestyles. They are not the successors of the Civil Rights marchers in the '50's and early '60's, when protesters met with dogs, fire hoses, police clubs, and lynchings. Today's protesters are met with cameras and politicians. Furthermore, they're not fighting an upward battle against great odds like the marchers of old but, more likely, riding the crest of a popular wave. Most causes have been pre-approved by media outlets long before they make it to the streets.
Ironically, if protesters were to achieve their goals, they would be at a loss. The end of protest for them would mean the end of life as they knew it. Not so the protesters of the '50's, for whom victory meant the peaceful assimilation into society in order to get on with living.
Minority members from the early days have their own reasons for jumping on the bandwagon of contemporary protest. Jesse Jackson would be nobody if the dreams of Dr. King became reality, as would be his counterparts in bureaucratic offices throughout the country.
But what about keepers of the old majority who have bought into the religion of protest? What about silver-haired patricians, limousine liberals from the old school, like Episcopal bishops, who have recently shifted from the country club Right to the country club Left? At what point did they sense it was in their interests to equate the Faith with a cause - any cause - even if it meant throwing overboard the Faith once delivered?
It is a simple historic fallacy that the present ideology of "inclusion" is the natural development of the Christian gospel contained in the historic creeds and confessions of the churches. What's more, everyone knows it. Protest is, among other things, the moral equivalent to pitching a fit to confuse anyone who would press for a real explanation.
Keep in mind who is leading the charge in the present debate over sexuality. It is not the "wretched of the earth", but well heeled, over-indulged, upper-middle class advocates of the sexual revolution. Such a "revolution" makes a mockery of earlier revolutions, which its advocates would realize if they did not have so much at stake in their own histrionics.
What is at stake is maintaining their elitist position in church and society. This is why elitists take up the causes of "little people" everywhere: not to make the causes their own - they couldn't if they wanted to, as any hardened revolutionary would tell them, and as their own front-office activists tell each other in guarded tones around the water cooler.
The powerful sense the political ground shifting around them. Many fool themselves into thinking that they can maintain their present position in the social pecking order by appeasing the right angry mob. But when the ground shifts a little more, and the mob achieves critical mass, the elites will be among the first to be thrown overboard.
Soon Episcopal elites will have served the Revolution in the only real way they can: they have sold their Mother down the river. They have contributed admirably to the destabilizing of Western culture. There's not much more they can contribute, except their money. And even that is running out.
We must forgive the good bishops if their protests become shrill, even on such an unceremonious moral subject. The spirituality of protest is pretty down-to-earth after all. It's about survival.
--The Rev. Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon in charge of Pastoral Care at St. Luke's Cathedral in Orlando, Florida.
Yes, I wonder about this often ... not only about the "mainline denominations," but all the other institutions that have made homosexual behavior the centerpiece of their worldview.
I'll come back later and see if this writer can enlighten me!
I wonder how much they paid the Marquis to stand there?
I'm not persuaded. I'd hoped this article would contain more intellectual meat.
Why sodomy, of all the disgusting things to build a worldview around?
There are some valid points in this piece. The real explaination of the behavior of the clergy of today's "mainline" denominations is similar to why there are so many left wing college professors. When the counter-culture movement ran out of steam in the early 70's, its most ardent advocates needed a place to go. For those who stayed in college to earn PhD's in whatever, academia was the only place they could get a job. Others gravitated towards the seminaries of denominations that would let practically anyone into seminary. In time, the ranks of priests and bishops came to fill up with aging hipsters.
Is appreciating and championing productivity, integrity, professionalism, worth and value a negative? If it's elitist to expect the most out of people, to promote and support quality worksmanship, to enjoy getting things done and to laud the people who can do things cleanly and perfectly with no problems, then I wish we had more of them around.
Some Protestant fundamentalists and Republican Party zealots use the term "elitist" as a derogatory insult, but truth be known being an elitist is a good thing. It means you request the best in yourself and the best in others. That you don't accept a shoddy effort, sloven inefficiency, or drab incompetence. That you fight the movement to water down your fun, and that you refuse to accept an existence that bores the hell out of you. The elitists of this world are the tent poles of progress, propping up achievement and pushing the arts, sciences, culture, music, and the human condition to forever best itself in all avenues of creativity. Without elitists, the tent falls, flattened into the ground of ridiculously tepid, safe, boring mediocrity. It's the elitists who express early desires for higher standards in every capacity of life. It's the elitists who put every interesting genre of music you've ever heard on the map, who've established every untouchable sports record, who write books that continue to sell long after the author is dead, who've put men on the moon, cars on the roads, and your computer in front of you. Without elitists, everything that's wrong and inane with life will run unchecked. Without elitists, we, as an interesting species, are truly screwed.
Let the Protestant fundamentalists call us elitist all they want, and if that's the case, then so be it. But let me honestly ask you: What's so wrong with being elitist?
They are speaking of AN elite, the present day Establishment, once Protestant and now agnostic.
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