My mention of a less than stellar one and half page interview with Tony Jones in Rising from the Ashes: Rethinking Church prompted Tony to comment that he was attempting to be honest rather than masculine. Well, I had to think about that for a while, as I’m not sure where the honesty comes in, especially as two of the questions Tony answers point to the fact that e/Emergent is more than willing to call other people out, but unwilling to answer the tough questions themselves.
He picks on Anglicans (interesting that he’d use the term Anglican rather than Episcopalian – is this a shot at the Church of England, or the Episcopal Church? Or both?) of which I am one. Now, one could argue that in what I have written below that I’m just being defensive. On the other hand, the Anglican Communion as whole is dealing on a global scale with two of the biggest socio-political issues right now that face the church – i.e. what is the role in the church of women and of gay Christians? It’s really messy, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to manage the process other than to let it play out and see where the pieces fall. These are two issues that e/Emergent has avoided like the plague since its inception.
Some background: The Episcopal Church has a female Presiding Bishop, a woman who is infinitely more suited for and better at the job than her two immediate (male) predecessors. My own diocese has a female suffragan bishop who is one of the most incredible people in the church (or indeed out of it) that I have ever worked with. My own congregation is headed by a woman priest who is again, one of the best I have ever known. In my church’s corner of the diocese there are eight churches in our region, two of them headed by gay priests, three by women. And these are by no means people of some wishy-washy faith . So if you’re talking about “emerging” from anything, the Episcopal Church in my neck of the woods has emerged a considerable way from the patriarchal ways that define most of the church’s history.
Is the Episcopal Church perfect? We would be the first to admit we’re not. We even have the liturgy to ensure that we acknowledge that every time we meet. Like most denominations, the Episcopal Church has operated as a top-down hierarchy for much of its existence, but a new generation of leadership recognizes that this cannot and should not continue. I am particularly hopeful that our new Diocesan bishop, Greg Rickel, with Bishop Nedi's help, will be a breath of fresh air. The superstructure should only exist to ensure the roots are fed and healthy. I am confident we are getting there. Slowly maybe, but making progress.
Anyway, without further ado, here are some excerpts from the interview with Tony Jones from the book, with commentary.
Format is: Question / Answer / Commentary