Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Becoming Episcopal

I've been researching the Episcopal faith.... which is basically the
American Anglican church, or a first derivative of the Catholic Church.
I like what I see. Apparently, I have been Episcopal all along and just
didn't know it. It much more closely lines up with my belief system
than the present day Catholic system.

For one, they don't require confession. Big plus. I always had a
problem with telling some priest my sins, and didn't like the Catholic
Church's explanation of that. (The priest is the extension of God...
hooey!)

They don't believe that the communion is the ACTUAL body and blood of
Christ (which is a neat parlor trick, but not required for spiritual
significance, in my opinion.) They believe that Christ is present at
the holy communion in spirit and that's good enough for me!

They are much more tolerant in their beliefs, and less guilt oriented.
Committing "mortal sins" does not expel you from God's infinite grace.
They also believe that all Christians, and even non Christians are
offered the grace of God. In other words, you don't have to be Catholic
to be loved and accepted by God. Isn't that closer to Jesus's teachings
and examples than the exclusionist policies of the Catholic faith?

Finally, priests are interviewed by the parish, not simply assigned to a
parish. The parish gets a say in the selection of their priest!! How
progressive! Not to mention that they accept women priests, allow the
priests to marry, and tolerate people of all lifestyles. I like the
sound of that. They've had a recent schism with the homosexual priest
thing, but hopefully, we'll find that the particular parish in our town
isn't divided or beleaguered on this issue. It certainly isn't as bad
an issue as the whole priest pedophilia scandal!

I found this "comparison guide" on the Internet comparing and
contrasting the two faiths. I found it very useful. I'm pretty sure
we're going to make the switch.

http://www.pttw.org/peek/beliefs.html

1 comment:

Dad said...

This is a little hard for me to explain, but I'll try. I believe churches frequently confuse religion and process. Church leaders, in trying to find ways to demonstrate religion or for people to express their religion, come up with processes designed to demonstrate religion. But, after long usage, the demonstrations become religious themselves. (Sort of the worshiping of idols or shrines).

The best example I can think of is the covering of heads for women.As you know, women used to have to cover their heads when they entered the Catholic Church. The 1964 Baltimore Ecuminical eliminated this requirement (at least in the US). While we were in Mississippi I was in a Sunday adult discussion class and one of the elderly ladies cited that example as one of the reasons she was confused with her religion. She said the first half of her life she was taught that it was a sin to enter the church without covering her head. Then, all of a sudden, it was ok. She asked, how many other things that the church says are sins now will not be sins in the future?

So, now to my point. Most churchs have rituals, processes, etc. designed to let the people celebrate their religion. But, the focus of Christian religions should be on Christ's teachings, not on the rituals. I believe the beginning of the Protestant revolution actually began because of the extremes the Catholic Church had gone to on the ritual side. The Protestant churches chose to read and study the bible and build their religion around that study, as opposed to the Catholic Church which built ritual and mystified religion. They substituted fear and guilt (rather than focusing on the love of Christ) to hold people in the church. For hundreds of years, with ignorant people, they succeeded. But, as people became more literate, they learned they could read and interpret Christ's teachings themselves.

Of course, the US Catholic Church, in the 1964 Baltimore Ecuminical, addressed some of these issues. So, priests, like those we had in Mississippi, were able to eliminate, or at least de-emphasize some of the Catholic ritual. They actually moved closer to the Protestant method of celebrating religion. But, others (traditionalists) didn't move any more than they had to (like they had to start using English in masses rather than Latin).

What does all this have to do with you? Well, what I see you objecting to in your church are the ritual changes. The priest changing things to the way he thinks they should be. The Choir leader focusing on the choir as if the quality of the sound was a religious judgment rather than the ability for anyone who wants to to be able to celebrate Christ by joining the choir. The religious experience is really the participation and celebration, not the sound coming out of the choir. So, the choir leader is absolutely taking the path that is anti personal participation with relgion for anyone other than the most gifted singers (and not kids).

If you take a look at the general pool of Christian religions, all that I know of have the same fundamental beliefs at the core, all stemming from the Bible. Then, surrounding these fundamental beliefs different churches add a few more that they say are fundamental (like your examples of representation of the body and blood of Christ or confessions). Then, around that they add their rituals and processes. I believe that the Catholic Church has the most rituals (or maybe the Orthodox??) and different Protestants have less.

So, how do you find a church that suits you? I think that fundamentally, many are suitable. So, the differentiater is the ritual or process surrounding the religion. How the church and the congregation chooses to express its worship. And, the organizational structure of the religion has a big impact on this. Centralized control (like the Catholic Church) vs. localized control (Protestant). And, in all cases, a local church's management (Preacher, Priest, etc.) is absolutely critical. In most main stram religions there are local churches that would be suitable for you and your family. And, also, there are local churches that wouldn't be, all because of the local nature of the church. Just think how good of a job that Jody did at Cooper's baptism. I think he would make a great leader of a local church, no matter what the denomination!

So, after this long winded explanation, what do I mean. I think you and Becky can and should find another local church that fits your personal religion and family. And, you shouldn't feel guilty about it. You are continuing your same religion (Christianity) and just choosing to express your religion differently.

Hope this rambling helps.

Dad

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