Saturday, October 19, 2013
Drunk and dazed. . .
The Anglicans discussing this were saying that unlike the college kid on spring break who awakens from his drunken stupor with a tattoo and a social disease, Anglicans are hard core drunks -- the kind you find sleeping it off in alleys and under an overpass. They awaken not to sober reality but to pursue more of the stuff that numbs the pain and clouds the mind. So Anglicans, as these Anglicans said, are the hard core drunks who have abandoned doctrine and faith and have only a stuffy liturgical formality and a desire for social justice left. Anglicans seem not to know who they are anymore. They have been drunk too long. They will probably not fall over the edge because they have done it already. Instead the worst that can happen is that they remain drunk, oblivious to their past and without regard to their future.
I am not sure about this judgment -- merely repeating the conversation. What I did find appealing is this image of the college kid who wakes up from his spring break bender. It occurs to me that many within the ELCA, as well as some of those in the NALC and LCMC, think of the CWA 2009 embrace of gays and lesbians in the same way the college kid wakes up to find the evidence of his drunken all nighter. Yes they have the tattoo and yes they have the social disease but... the folks hope that they can get over it and go back to normal. The NALC and LCMC folks yearn more for an ELCA like it was than for something very different. Those remaining in the ELCA hope that they can put their spring break (or in this case, August Indulgence) behind them and things can get back to some sense of normal -- without the conflict or the preoccupation with what was done in 2009.
The ELCA is, however, a long term, hard core drunk when it comes to its rejection of Biblical authority, its skepticism about Biblical fact, and its love affair with mainline Protestantism. This is not some flirtation or week end bender. It is an addiction that has stripped away the Lutheran identity and left them with but a memory of their Lutheran past and a difficulty with an unchanging truth. The ELCA needs real help and must begin by confessing they are drunks when it comes to reconciled diversity, progressive Protestant liberalism, and doubts about Biblical truth and authority. Sobriety requires you to face the full measure of your pain and, while I hope it could happen, I am not holding my breath to await the result.
On the other hand, we in Missouri are hard core drunks when it comes to the church growth movement, to contemporary worship, and to mission strategies that require us to hide our Lutheran identity and appear to some body we are not. This is no passing flirtation. This is no spring break dalliance. This is a hard core addiction to non-sacramental worship, seeker style services, praise music, and the illusion of success defined by numbers. Like the Anglicans and ELCA, such a hard core addiction will require more than a visit to the doctor. We need to enter rehab in order to remember who we are so that we can be who we are on Sunday morning. We will never outgrow our temptation by these things but we can learn again the painful but necessary track of sobriety.