[LMB] Re: OT: Episcopagans (From an expert)

Mark Eddy markdeddy at grandecom.net
Wed, 23 Mar 2005 21:45:57 -0600

Jessy Brody wrote:

>And I've gotta ask: how, pray tell, do you go about being an
>Episcopagan? Monotheists down the centuries are whirling in their
>graves ...
>JLB, who's best friend is Episcopalian, but not very
Your friend is one of the types of "Episcopagans". I've actually 
categorized at least five -- this may differ from my initial attempt, 
which is somewhere in the archives.

The first, most common, type of Episcopagan is the type that we also 
refer to as "hatched, matched, and dispatched" Episcopalians. Not 
terribly involved, they'll mention us if pressed (mostly to get street 
preachers off their backs).

Almost as common are the JS Spong followers. They don't believe in an 
omnipotent God, they don't believe in creation, they don't believe in 
heaven, they don't believe in the virgin birth, they don't believe in 
Jesus' resurrection, they don't believe in the second coming, they don't 
believe in the general resurrection, and they don't believe in eternal 
life. (And yes, that ordering was deliberate -- I have a friend who says 
that they commit perjury every time they say the creeds.)

The next most common type of Episcopagan can be loosely called the 
Celtic Episcopagan: they'd rather hold the Eucharist outside, invoking 
the archangels, or just before going to an environmentalist's meeting, 
they read David Adam for fun, and they are mostly panentheists[1] and, 
sometimes, Pelagians[2].

The fourth type of Episcopagan is one that I've seen many more of at 
seminary than I thought I would -- the true syncretists. Some of them 
actually see the Trinity as being Mother, Sophia/Chokmah, and Ruah. 
Others believe that it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you 
believe it firmly. I was in chapel when they invoked the Earth Mother 
during the canon of the mass -- just before the words of institution[3]. 
They're usually scary wave three feminists[4], too, and I assume that 
they're Episcopalians because it pays better.

The last type of Episcopagan is actually pagan -- but they're, for want 
of a better way of putting this, Anglo-Catholic Pagans -- an orderly, 
beautiful, lots of incense and chanted singing, damask cloth on the 
altar, well-established, country-club kind of pagan. And yes, when I met 
my first few, my brain *was* bent.

So, as you can see, not all Episcopagans don't count as (well, 
trinitarian) monotheists.

Mark (training to be an Episcopal Priest) Eddy

[1] panentheism, also known as radical immanence, holds that God is a 
part of or within everything.
[2] Pelagius was a contemporary of Augustine, and held that original sin 
was nonsense, salvation needed a show of deeds by the saved person to be 
proven real, and that monasticism and ascetic practice were not a 
necessarily permanent vocation.
[3] The words of institution repeat the story of the last supper, and 
are held (in the West[5]) to be the moment at which the transformation 
of the bread and wine occurs. This is offensive enough to me that I can 
only say that it would be like invoking Asherah in the middle of Shabbas 
services, just to prove that you're open minded.
[4] As opposed to non-scary feminists of any wave. (Wave three are the 
Baby Boomers, mostly.)
[5] In the East, it's at the epiclesis: the prayer that the Holy Spirit 
enter the gifts and/or our hearts to make this liturgy do its thing.
[6] There is no end note [6].