EpiscoCrapThe Bovina Bloviator links over to the Midwest Conservative Journal’s ponderings on when exactly the Episcopal Church began its current (and, IMHO, fatal) nose-dive.

The average non-combatant might very well believe that it has something to do with the election of V. Gene! Robinson as the outspokenly-gay bishop of New Hampshire, but I agree with BB and the MCJ folks that Gene! is just a natural result and not the cause of TEC’s demise, and that the root cause can be found in TEC’s failure, these many years ago,  to drown Bishop Spong or, before him, Bishop Pike in a horse trough for their insistent arguments that – broadly speaking – all that Biblical stuff was only symbolic and that religion must conform to humanism, and not the other way ’round.  

I was thinking about this as I printed out schedules for the kick-off of the fall season at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church.  As regular port-swillers know, the rest of the family still attends services at RFEC.  This year, the eldest gel is going to start in the acolyte program, while the nine year old begins her third year in the yoot choir and the seven year old begins her first.

Now, do not get me wrong.  Despite the fact that the rector of RFEC is a good personal friend of Gene!, the church itself can hardly be said to be a hotbed of “progressivism”.  A few of the congregation are orthodox holdouts.  Perhaps a few more (conveniently placed in positions of power such as the delegation to the diocesian and national conventions) are of the avant garde ilk.  Most of the parishioners (including Mrs. Robbo) take the position of Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen to the Empire with regard to the convulsions wracking TEC at the national level: “It’s all such a long way from here.”

Nonetheless, RFEC is still a part of TEC.  The general question is how far the kooties of presiding bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori and her ilk penetrate to the average pew-dweller.  And the specific question is how far said kooties penetrate to the Family Robbo and how far Robbo himself is complicit in said penetration.

On the one hand, recognizing that at this point I simply cannot dragoon the family across the Tiber, I reason that it is nonetheless important to see to it that they make worship an important part of their lives.   To this end, I even commit myself to double-duty on Sundays, showing up at RFEC and at least singing the hymns with vigor (I do love me that Isaac Watts) before heading off on my own to Mass at my parish.  (And believe me, there are fewer things more bittersweet than attending Mass by myself.  Trust me on this.)

On the other hand, even though the rector at RFEC very rarely strays into current theological/political topics in his sermons, and even though the liturgy is what one might call very formal low church, by attending and encouraging the family to attend services there, am I not at some remove also encouraging them to accept TEC’s overall theology in all its crippled, heretical, humanist form?

I’ve brought up this concept of aiding and abetting heresy a couple times in confession.  And although one cannot catch facial expressions through the screen, I’ve always had the impression that the padres were smiling quietly to themselves.  (Serious geek point trivia question: Who else smiled quietly to herself? She’s a good sheila, Bruce, and not at all stuck up.)  Their general advice seems to be that so long as I am working on promoting orthodox spirituality in the family, and so long as I am attempting to hold myself out as an example on behalf of Holy Mother Church, then there is no sin involved. 

Perhaps.  And I may say that the Family Robbo is getting there slowly:  No longer is Catholicism a taboo subject.  And when the subject of religion in general comes up (as it does on an ever-increasing basis), I am afforded a perfectly fair hearing.  In particular, great strides have been made in dispelling the many anti-Catholic caricatures and biases in our little family discussions.  Indeed, we have even progressed so far that the plan is for the eldest gel to attend the parochial school attached to Robbo’s parish next year.   This evening when she said, “Dad! I’ll have to attend Mass all the time!” and I replied, “Well, after a while perhaps you’ll learn to like it,”  Mrs. Robbo did not even blink.

I dunno.  Baby steps and all, but it is still agonizing.