PANDEMIC PROCESSING ON SECTARIAN MATTERS.

In France, the reference is La Famille Des Coronavirus. They, with Italy, and the balance of Western Europe have experienced a deep pit of infection…..along with special plagued areas of the United States. As I write, the USA is running about 20-23% of world fatalities.

We sit home; do our best to comply with an ever-changing list of instructions, and absorb far more daily news – than one might need. As I am comforted with our new home in LAKEWOOD, my thinking in all this brings multi reflections on one’s faith, religion, or one’s spirituality…..thus the quote below:                                                                                                          “Being civil does not mean we cannot criticize what goes on around us. Civility does not require us to approve of what other people believe and do. Christian civility does not mean refusing to make judgments about what is true.”

Some weeks ago, in a gesture of supportive community, Mike Lindell (the “My Pillow guy”) appeared at a White House briefing noting that he was turning over one of his manufacturing plants to making Coronavirus masks in support of the President’s efforts. Then, he offered advice to families stuck at home because of various social-distancing guidelines: “I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles, and spend time with our families.”

BAM!

The heavy hammer of the secular main-stream-media came thundering down on him, finding his presence at such an event unthinkable.

Following that sad kerfuffle, there are two current reactions, which jumped to my attention – a new book…and the recent death of a slightly notorious Episcopal Bishop.

First, Matt Walsh has written Church of Cowards: A Wake-Up Call to Complacent Christians. Walsh writes “the lives that American “Christians” lead aren’t much different from those of their atheist neighbors, and their knowledge of theology isn’t much better either. He concludes the spiritual junk food we’re stuffing ourselves with, is never going to satisfy – even in the days of this current plague from China. He continues: as St. Augustine said over a millennium ago, our hearts are restless until they the rest in HIM.

My second thought occurred to me, as I plunge into the controversial career of one Barbara Harris, retired Episcopal bishop, 1930 – 2020.

Harris died over a month ago at 89. Parenthetically, I’m aware this citation will dive this writer… into a cultural, “spiritual” sea of molten – by honestly tracing the career of Episcopal Bishop Barbara Harris as one of political waves.

Barbara Clementine Harris, female, African-American, was an Episcopal bishop whose goal was to shatter the perceived glass ceiling…with all sorts of cultural evolutionary adaptions and dictates. A daughter of a Philadelphia steelworker, Harris never attended college, never attended seminary, briefly married in the 1960s, and quickly divorced.

Later, upon her appointment as Suffragan bishop in Massachusetts, she becomes a well –known speaker and writer on “church-related” topics. Harris continually lamented that the Episcopal Church’s time and energy were wasted on theological, and in her mind, “nonissues.” Impatient with arguments about theology and orthodoxy, she concentrated her energies on issues of race, sexuality, criminal justice, Trans, and the environment.

It has been pointed out that Bishop Harris took pleasure in deriding “Podunk Episcopalians” who, she said, feared “mitered mamas” such as herself. Her accomplishment was intentional: widen the gulf between liberal and conservative Episcopalians – and liberals and conservatives generally…”don’t play it safe”, she admonished.

Bishop Harris was 89 when she died. Her legacy, along with others, has left the number of Episcopalians in America at an historical low (1.6 million)….down from almost 4 million when I was a teen.

Locally, the Episcopal Dioceses of Virginia is woman led. Three of the four women in charge have ten or fewer year of ordained experience, and one of those with only five.

The Age of Coronavirus brings time to think, compare, and reassess….maybe some positives will emerge.