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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The End of the Campaign

A friend of mine, a lifelong Catholic, expressed his surprise to me that liberal Episcopalians are apoplectic over the Vatican's recent announcement Anglicans, unhappy with the state of affairs in their church, may become Catholics and still retain elements of their beloved form of worship. My friend asked why the Episcopal Church liberals were not thrilled to be rid of the malcontents since they had been making such a stink over the years; why the accusations of "poaching?"

Good questions both and I was unable answer them at the time. Later, however, an explanation suggested itself: the innovators vital need for an enemy and the terrible fear they might not have one. The history of the left is a history of campaigns: against those in charge when out of power and against those not in charge when in power; a never-ending battle. For over thirty years innovators in the Episcopal Church have fought against the old-guard orthodox: first over the ordination of women, then over matters sexual and finally over matters soteriological. In dealing with opponents, their tactics have been straight out of Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, particularly rule number 13: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Thus, any theological and scriptural arguments in opposition are ignored and those making them are vilified as "hateful," "reactionary," "noninclusive" "bigoted" and much worse. This tactic has proved most successful. Most of those in the pews are understandably loath to be called those nasty words and are thus cowed into submission.

Now, however, the Pope has provided remaining traditionalist pew-sitters in the Episcopal Church, who surely must be weary of the unending ideological campaigns but so far have been unwilling to jump ship, a most generous and attractive offer: board Peter's barque, become part of the One True Church and continue to worship in much the manner in which you are accustomed. Not all of those in Episcopal pews will take advantage of the offer, perhaps only a few will at first, but in the end what matters is that the invitation stands; to be considered anew should things get worse (and they will).

The cause for outrage among liberals in the Episcopal Church is the realization they may no longer bash with impunity those remaining traditionalist pew-sitters who, in all likelihood, still constitute a majority of worshipers, still write the checks and, most important, serve as cannon fodder for the liberals. Just the possibility they may now easily leave terrifies the liberals; how can they campaign if there is no foe? With the opposition gone not only does the campaign come to an end, so does any remaining public interest in the Episcopal Church. Whatever will they do?

The liberals' predicament brings to mind (believe it or not) the last Batman movie, where the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, says: "I'm like a dog chasing a car: if I caught it, I wouldn't know what to do with it."

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