Mr. Watson, come here, I need you.
There is a story that goes like this: After developing the telephone; Alexander Graham Bell brought his invention to Western Union. Western Union turned it down, saying they were in the telegram business, not the telephone business. Had Western Union realized they were in the communications business, there might be an elegant W.U. logo on cell phones.
What business is The Episcopal Church in? Is it a publishing house, collective of do-gooders, political party, MDG cheerleader, gate keeping hierarchy, or any number of other businesses described in the output from Episcopal/Fox News Service?
What does The Church do that no one else can do?
Answer that, and if The Episcopal Church goes down, at least it will go down knowing its corporate identity and keep some integrity.
Answer that, and maybe, if answered with honesty and accuracy; intention, budget, energy will follow; the whole tide will turn and The Episcopal Church will survive. God willing.
Crossing the “t’s” or dotting the “i’s” of national church publications with exclamation points and smiley faces may distract momentarily, but keeps everyone in denial.
In July, a few hundred members of the leadership of The Episcopal Church will gather in Anaheim for General Convention. Those attending will labor hard, there will be a telephone-sized book of resolutions published of which less than 2 per cent of the 700,000 Episcopalians in good standing will be aware.
The head count of members in good standing at the 2000 General Convention was around a million.
We are in an era where a New York minute has been replaced by the nano second, and that sense of change and immediacy is felt on every level of society. The growth in sharing information collaboratively has brought about a new sense of populism, and global awareness. The organization and success of the Obama campaign is a model for communication on a grassroots level. Not only has the entire culture shifted, but our neurological wiring has changed. Our brains are different.
Yet The Episcopal Church conducts business and works on resolutions in a very old-fashioned and frankly silly manner. At issue is not the collaborative deliberation of the House of Deputies or even the House of Bishops. Bidden or not, God is present. The core of the problem is elitism. The assumption that in a world of growing populism and collaboration, we, the faithful, are passively waiting to hear from those with positions higher up the Church food chain in order to proceed in our spiritual journeys is foolish. The Episcopal Church accepts it at its peril.
Another key point: America has evolved into a consumer society. Unfortunate as this is, it is a reality. We’re also working harder for less, thanks primarily the inevitability of corporate greed and hierarchical entitlement. So, we don’t invest – time or money – in things in which we have no interest, and we are increasingly skeptical of, if not outright angry at, mega bureaucracy. Don’t waste our valuable Sunday mornings with dead worship produced by corporate elite. We are leaving without looking back.
Until the next post here’s a message to the leadership of the church: That big fat book will sit on a shelf in a parish office, unopened, until the next triennium. And when the 2012 book is published, there will be fewer copies to print.