To the editors:
I almost always pick up a copy of the Reader on Friday mornings. Regrettably, I failed to do so on June 9th, and so missed Bryan Miller’s article (“Is Nothing Sacred?”).
The numerous letters written in response to that article do, however, reflect the very real and serious divisions within the Episcopal Church today. I hope you’ll print one more before you exercise editorial privilege and curtail further commentary.
Firstly, I’d like to thank Bishop Griswold [Letters, July 14] for repudiating both the tone and content of the letter written by the anonymous, supposed-employee of the Episcopal Diocese [Letters, July 7]. Never once, over many years of contacts with his predecessor Bishops of Chicago and the clergy and lay staff (then and now) of the Diocese of Chicago, have I experienced anything but genuine warmth and pastoral interest in my spiritual needs. I would be greatly surprised if such an employee were, in fact, a member of what is in reality a small, closely-knit, staff family of Christian men and women.
As a former Episcopalian for 25 years (a sometime postulant for Holy Orders and novice in a religious order, and then vestryman, acolyte master, and senior high youth leader at St. Luke’s, Evanston), I went through various degrees of “churchman-ship”: from a devout Anglo-Catholic (Mass, Mary, and confession), through being a modified-Highchurch activist in liberal causes (demonstrations in cassock, carrying a processional cross, and guitar Eucharists cum incense), to radical, Episcopalian-revisionist (house Celebrations presided over by female priests and denigration of traditional theology/spirituality as “irrelevant”).
What I did was to modernize, intellectualize, and relevant-ize myself right out of any meaningful relationship with the Triune God, who uniquely reveals himself in Jesus within that community of faith, the distinguishing marks of which are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. For the issue which really underlies the divisions within the Episcopal Church (and others) has nothing to do, per se, with external ritual (“bells and smells”), revisions of liturgical rites and genderless texts, or women’s rights. The issue is fundamentally theological, and centers on what is believed about the person and nature of Jesus Christ: its resolution is found in the credal definitions and interpretive canons of the first seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church.
When my particular spiritual journey had led me to reinvestigate my needs within the context of my religious roots, I was led to joyfully embrace the “right-glorying” (Orthodox) Faith of that Church whose origin was in the Christian east, and which is now flowering in the west due to persecution and emigration.
I, personally, disagree with those ecumenists who caution against “individual conversion” to another church as non-productive: for whom? It solved my dilemma and filled my needs. And while I will not actively proselytize among Christians who are satisfied with their communions, I will, nevertheless, sincerely invite those Episcopalians (and members of the Protestant and Roman persuasions), who have given up hope of finding that which seems lacking in their churches, to investigate for themselves the claim which we Orthodox Christians hymn at every celebration of Divine Liturgy: “We have seen the true Light; We have received the heavenly Spirit; We have found the true Faith: worshipping the un-divided Trinity!”