...When evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics leave The Episcopal Church, I feel a personal sense of loss; I find myself thinking, "crap -- there goes someone I wanted to learn more from," as well as "drat -- it's going to be much harder for us to accomplish things in God's mission without that person." Even strictly in terms of my own agenda in church politics, I lose out when people leave The Episcopal Church -- I'm losing an ally in advocating for biblical literacy, or for beautiful and excellent liturgy, or for justice for the poor, or for other things, and most likely in multiple categories. I guess that's what happens when you're a charismatic Anglo-Catholic evangelical progressive. And I know that for personal as well as theological reasons, I'd like it to happen less often.To expand on this a bit, it seems to me that it is appropriate for us to recognize the grieving that accompanies any loss. Elizabeth Kubler Ross suggested that there is a grieving process:
Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.I think, if we are honest, we have to admit to seeing all of these stages played out here at Jake's place at one time or another over the last couple of years. The Church as we once knew it is no more. And that is sad, but also frightening in some ways. As William Auden said:
Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.
We would rather be ruined than changed"We would rather be ruined than changed." That is certainly an option. We have a choice. We can hold on to the past, which in truth may be much more of an idealistic illusion, or we can let it quietly die, and place our hope in the new thing that God might be doing in our midst. As Paul wrote to the Philippians:
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And see our illusions die.
I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.Let us not be overwhelmed by our grief. Press on toward the goal.