Trinity Sunday

For the past few months there have been actions and rallies to draw attention to Trinity Wall Street’s prosecution of eight people who stepped on “their land”. These are the eight who didn’t take ACDs (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal) trying to call out Trinity Wall Street for putting business over mission. Trinity Wall Street is playing a game of chicken with dire consequences –particularly with Jack Boyle.  All this for some civil disobedience with Santa.

We all know the institutional church is dying and asking the equivalent of  its tribal witch doctors why rather than the 19,000 of us who leave each year.  The bad PR is contained by the fact that there are more important things for the faithful to think about. But in Trinity’s case it’s truly puzzling. The director of PR attends the trial every day as the surreal game of chicken unfolds. The dark stallion of bad press escaped from Trinity’s barn years ago and running wild, picks up more untamed horses for the herd.  A stampede is inevitable. (Trinity’s spin machine and St. Paul’s Chapel after 9.11.01 – in the original German)

One of these actions is on Trinity Sunday. God’s timing or OWS’s?  In the days preceding the trial I ponder what I know about Trinco and feel it’s important for those passing by to get some spiritual context for this narrative. On June 3, the materials below are handed out in front of Trinity Wall Street.

Trinity Sunday, June 3
Trinity Sunday is a big day. On this day Christians ponder the deep realities of God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a mystery. The Triune God: God, Creator; God’s Spirit which inspires and moves through all creation – believers, atheists, the sentient and non-sentient; and the Nazarene Rabbi Jesus – God incarnate.

Symbols of the Trinity draw us to meditate on how Creator, Spirit, and Jesus are separate yet the same. Christians are called to contemplate how this mystery affects their lives. How they are to act, for example. The lectionary readings appointed for today include Isaiah 6: 1-8. The final verse reads “Here I am, send me!” in response to God’s call for acting on God’s behalf for justice in the world.

Today we ask how the leadership at Trinity Church Wall Street has responded to God’s question: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

To whom does Trinity’s leadership answer?

Leadership at Trinity Wall Street: A Track Record

What is it about the promising parish of Trinity Wall Street that it repeatedly chooses leadership oblivious to significant historical moments?
• A petulant and vindictive Dan Matthews fights transforming St. Paul’s Chapel into a haven for recovery workers after 9.11.01, wanting it to stay a “pretty little chapel”. Then gleans credit and awards for someone else’s vision and hard work.
• Jim Cooper simultaneously ignores not only Occupy Wall Street’s search for a winter home but actual dialog while claiming “It is perhaps one of the most important movements since the Civil Rights and antiwar movements of the 50s and 60s”.
• Delays in withdrawing trespassing charges for 18 citizens, toying with people’s lives

When destiny hands the football of justice, truth, and the Gospel to rectors of Trinity Wall Street they are so consumed with minutiae and ego—or perhaps bad administrative advice—they fumble and lose the game. Why does this noble parish with so many blessings to share choose leaders with a poverty of wisdom and foresight?

Trinity – you could have been a contender.

 Trinity Church’s board in open revolt against Rev. James Cooper’s extravagant ways
By ISABEL VINCENT, MELISSA KLEIN and JAMES COVERT
Last Updated: 9:55 AM, March 18, 2012
Posted: 11:20 PM, March 17, 2012

During a Sunday morning service at Trinity Church last summer, a longtime parishioner looked around during the reading of the Gospel and counted the worshippers. By her tally, there were 49 people in the pews of the historic lower Manhattan church — a meager turnout for the storied, 314-year-old parish. She was puzzled, then, when the next week’s church bulletin reported attendance at 113.

Trinity’s rector, the Rev. James Cooper, had decided that tourists who wander in and out of the chapel should be counted as well, she was told.

“That’s just a little snapshot into the way he presents everything,” said the parishioner, who was also a member of the governing board until she resigned in protest. “Everything has a little bit of truth to it but a lot of deception around it.”

Playing fast and loose with the numbers, and official church records, is one of the many complaints that dog the man who heads the richest parish in the Anglican world, a church with at least $1 billion in Manhattan real estate.

Cooper was supposed to be the guardian angel of Trinity. Instead, former board members say his dictatorial style of leadership and grandiose ambitions have fomented insurrection in the staid Episcopal community. They accuse him of undermining Trinity’s mission of good works since taking over as rector in 2004.

UNSACKABLE: Rev. James Cooper, the much-maligned yet immovable head of historic Trinity Church (opposite), blesses the football Giants victory parade in February after Big Blue’s stirring Super Bowl win.

Instead of helping the poor, Cooper’s helped himself — with demands for a $5.5 million SoHo townhouse, an allowance for his Florida condo, trips around the world including an African safari and a fat salary.

Rather than building an endowment, he is accused of wasting more than $1 million on development plans for a luxury condo tower that has been likened to a pipe dream and burning another $5 million on a publicity campaign.

Cooper, 67, whose compensation totaled $1.3 million in 2010, even added CEO to his title of rector. He began listing himself first on the annual directory of vestry members. The atmosphere has become so poisonous that nearly half the 22 members of the vestry, or board, have been forced out or quit in recent months.

“When the fox ends up guarding the henhouse, it never ends well for the chickens,” ousted board member Thomas Flexner, global head of real estate for Citigroup, wrote in a Feb. 13 resignation letter. “But this is what has happened at Trinity.”

Among the perks Cooper negotiated was a lavish home in SoHo, a Federal-style townhouse built in the 1820s with a price tag of $5.5 million.

“He chose the residence and said this shall be the rectory,” a former board member said. “Not in recent history . . . has the church ever provided so extravagant a living arrangement for the rector, but that’s what he wanted.”

Instead of concentrating on the endowment, Cooper began planning for a grand development on Trinity Place. He proposed tearing down two Trinity-owned buildings across from the church. One, a 25-story tower at 74 Trinity Place, housed the church offices, its preschool and a gathering place for parishioners.

Cooper wanted to build a luxury condominium tower, with church offices on the lower floors. He also looked at buying the adjacent American Stock Exchange and demolishing it, even though the building has long been considered for landmark status. One former board member called the plan insensitive and too big for the area. Others questioned the need for such a development, which would involve borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another former board member said Cooper spent years studying the condo development, “not at all paying attention to the principal focus of those that hired him, which was try to solve the problem and try to make the church more of a powerful force in the philanthropy world.”

Trinity has had a long tradition of global giving and has taken credit for being one of the early opponents of apartheid in South Africa. It gave millions to the activist Bishop Desmond Tutu.

But for years, Trinity’s grant program gave out only $2.7 million annually, despite having the resources to fund more causes, a former board member said. More money was spent on church publicity in one year — $5 million — than grants. Last year, Trinity doled out grants to causes including a jobs program in Bedford-Stuyvesant and to churches in Africa.

Cooper traveled to Africa on church business but found time to fit in at least one safari, with his family along, at Trinity’s expense. The church also paid for jaunts to Asia and Australia.

The longtime and respected head of the grants program, the Rev. James Callaway, was forced out by Cooper, according to a former board member.

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More reason to hope: We are not alone

I have heard that Sidney Sanders, former bishop of East Carolina and much beloved faculty at Virginia Seminary, had written about the theology of the Broadway Musical.  Certainly Broadway has given us much more than jazz hands and emo singing cats. It embodies story, hope, social justice, reflection, epiphanies, as well as the glory of the human being fully alive.  Anyone who has been close to the theatre knows that there is no better community for accepting brokenness, and enveloping fellow seekers in the embrace of fellowship.

In the words of one of Sondheim’s most simple lyrics: No One is Alone

This blog began as a kind of personal therapy – a place to detox from the harshness of church work and disingenuous church community.

That season is done.  Today I had a wonderful conversation with Kenny Moore – aka Kenny the Monk.  His book, The CEO and the Monk carries high ratings on Amazon.  I’m embarrassed I haven’t read it, because a conversation with Kenny is a revivifying experience filled with insight, reverent irreverence, generosity, and lots of laughs.

So in the days to come, when this Hopeful Episcopalian reclaims the path of hope rather than its abstraction, look for the deletion of some of those more therapeutic posts, a revamping of  About this Blog, and a chance for the thousands of us out there to start calling out and finding each other.

After all, Anyone Can Whistle.

Advent 4: Snapshot of a parish

The first snow of 2009 in the northeast hit Saturday night and it was memorable. It brought to the present bits of my personal history with snow. An early memory was the time I tied with twine my grandfather’s ancient cross country skis brought from Sweden. Alone, I went out into the woods to explore. There, a storybook red fox crossed my path. We looked at each other for a while in silence. When the fox had had enough, he went on. I remained still, imprinting this on all my senses.

The nucleus of our spiritual journey is to find such moments – now. Jesus says “the Kingdom of God is coming, the Kingdom of God is here.” Faith tells me to walk with the belief that bidden or not, God is present.

The now of today incorporates snow cleansing the landscape, priming me for silence, awe, and the expectation that there are encounters yet to be. Today also asks me to be support for a local church’s Christmas pageant. I dig out the car, keeping in mind a promise I have made – particularly to 12-year-old Ryan.

Unloading a large bag of props for the pageant, I skate-slide my way across the parish parking lot’s tamped-down snow, walking in with focus. Passing the middle-aged female priest with cropped grey hair, she head pans a cheery “Good morning!” in my direction then goes right back to her conversation with another staff member. She’s ticked off the “welcome everyone” box on her to-do list. How would my experience have changed if she had walked with me? Or her experience had she had displayed some curiosity about the unfamiliar person who walks in such confident, familiar way through the halls?

I am spotting some of the props in the narthex when a couple in their late-forties arrives with the stomping of boots and other physical cues that the weather outside is frightful. Beautifully frightful. The husband wears a navy cashmere coat, a wool-silk reversible scarf nattily draped by the collar. His wife wears a full-length fur. Maybe sable.

“Ah Margaret! Don’t forget it’s our turn to bring up the elements!”

Yes, arrive wearing the cash equivalent of what could sustain a village in Micronesia for several years so you can tick off your Church duty as the one to bring up the symbols of Christ’s sacrifice and communion with the family of all humankind.

Halfway down the aisle in the nave I pause to light two candles. There are some things heavy on my heart. When I stand after my prayers, a different woman in a full-length fur, an expensive camera with a 5-inch telephoto lens around her neck, walks purposefully down the aisle. I am in transition, my eyes teary. She looks me full in the face, smiles brightly while saying “Good morning! Welcome!”

In this house of prayer and worship, everyone lives in the Land of the Oblivious. Well, nearly everyone. I encounter next the associate priest who smiles with his eyes rather than his teeth, asking me if there is anything he can do to help.

“No, thank you. And how is your stamina during this season?” I ask. “Enough time for your family?”

“Oh, you know how that is, but we’ll have time together over the break.”

This is a wealthy parish, founded by robber barons and early 20th century tycoons. These are the people who hated FDR for betraying his own class and there is a charism of that ethos. The parish is sustained by those who employ economic practices that continue to crush the poor and obliterate the middle class. The pulpit was silent when it came to the illegal invasion of Iraq, the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The relatives of those responsible for those policies might be offended.

The children on parade today may be the descendants of those robber barons – certainly many are the offspring of parents who enjoy the fruits plucked from the Wall Street system. At the moment, they are innocent, but the parish colludes with the culture in broadcasting messages about their “specialness”. There are the mission trips which pad college application c.v.s; the well-funded traditional chorister program which separates the sheep who bleat on pitch from the goats who are cast aside; rewards in the form of high-profile moments of recognition for the confirmation class attendees who obediently jump through hoops. When the children of this parish graduate from high school, the parish newsletter will print which public – or in most cases prep – school each one attended next to the name of the college the student will be attending.

All that’s missing is the glass case with engraved trophies.

But for me, I have a relationship with Ryan. Here is the Spirit. Here is where I need to read Ryan’s eyes and body language, allowing myself to be changed by being in the moment with this child. He can’t sing on pitch, he’s not aggressive. His readiness point is that he knows how to listen and watch interactively. There is trust in his eyes that makes my heart ootch. I want to be worthy of that trust.

The bulletin for the pageant takes up 8 folded legal-sized sheets of glossy paper, including a color cover with a child’s drawing of the manger. Sixteen pages for a very simple, apocryphal story or non-recycled paper. The pageant passes with moments of adorableness, enough mistakes to prevent any sense of it being canned. There is one African-American shepherd, a Latino Joseph, and an Asian angel. A display of diversity so that the parish can feel it’s not entirely insular. Everyone who owns a fur – and that is a large percentage of the female population – has worn it to church. Enough to costume a pageant sequel with northern fur-bearing critters around the manger instead of cows and sheep. The woman with the camera is taking snapshots.

But Ryan and I are collaborating off to the side making sound effects. Coconut shells for donkey hooves, a different bell sound for each angel, a wood block for knocking on innkeepers’ doors. Ryan is alive – watching, listening, completely off script. Both of us are practicing the productivity of playfulness. Kids are some of the most professional people you’ll ever work with. Ryan takes seriously that he is there to support the story of the nativity. Our relationship allows me to tolerate this community and I am grateful for Ryan for that gift.

I lose all the warm fuzzy feelings generated by the pageant when the priest steps out and tells us what it’s supposed to mean. Another “don’t bother” message from the clergy. Don’t ponder, don’t rest in the mystery of the incarnation. Here’s what he said it’s all about: We are all children of God.

We have announcements, and I am struck by how program-heavy this parish is. There are upcoming speakers, concerts, choir tours, book clubs, breakfasts, and classes.

The Eucharist begins, Margaret and her husband present the elements. Everything devolves into words on paper, laundry lists for me. I pray earnestly for God to help me find some meaning in all this. The prayer is repeated like a mantra and immediately before I am about to receive my prayer is answered. I see an image of the Bodhi tree, intercessions on paper fluttering in the wind, coupled with the sound of the words of one of the Eucharistic prayers where we ask that we do not come to the table with our own sense of righteousness. I receive communion in honor of someone else.

Back in the pew, I have a vision. At least I think I have a vision. What comes to me is this:

The last churches standing will be those that embody “church as club”. They will be a bit like conservatories – conserving tradition drawn from a small region in Northern Europe that coincides with the height of the British Empire. Sixty years of tradition extracted from 2,000. The rector will be selected for his or her capacity to keep pledges up, so that the right club atmosphere in terms of program is maintained. Just enough “learning” and mission to give a sense of corporate self-improvement. To paraphrase someone much wiser than myself: the church needs charity to deflect its energy from justice.

The poor churches will not fade. They will be absorbed into community like salt in the ocean. People will once again “be church” to each other. They will worship in Spirit and Truth. And this is where the world will turn. This is where the fire of hope burns just as it did in a cave a few thousand years ago.

Justice will rise, as it has for generations, from those who seek it the most. The de-churched, divorced from the agenda-driven church, will birth the Kingdom of God. We will acknowledge that we are on a spiritual journey. We will listen to each other and keep our lamps trimmed.

The worship over, I pack up my bags. Ryan runs up to say “Thanks, that was fun.” The associate priest thanks me too with a full sense of sincerity. It is only a moment, but we listen to each other’s holiday plans, wishing each other blessings and restorative time. This is enough.

The day remains cold so that the snow keeps its powdery silence. At home, I have my own agenda to tend to – clean up, prepare for the work week, cook enough meals for the family. But every time I look out the window, I expect to see a storybook red fox.

My soul doth magnify the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Help me to be in the moment, to live with compassion, to be flexible, to stop all agendas so that I may find your Spirit and your will.

Watch in Hope

A new Advent meditation book made its way into my library: Stephen Cottrell’s Do Nothing – Christmas is Coming.

In his introduction, Cottrell makes an  analogy between what seasons like Advent can do in our lives and the de-fragmentation of a computer.  A computer stores new information wherever it can find available memory.  Large files can be stored in a number of different fragments so when the user asks the computer to find the entire file, the read/write part of the machine slows up searching for the fragments. Defragmenting programs rewrite files so they are stored contiguously providing foundational decluttering.

We need to defragment our lives in the same way. The time-tested method is to slow down, be mindful, and incorporate prayerful contemplation of history, scripture, daily events that the Holy Spirit brings to us.  So many faithful say that Advent is their favorite time of the liturgical year and it’s because of this slowing down coupled with mindfulness of the themes of Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

On the parish level, this defragmentation process is not always modeled.  Advent becomes a time for ratcheting up special programs, speakers, adult forums, and projects.  One of the most dismaying staff meetings comes in early November when the rector and the organist have their annual discussion about replacing Rite Two with Rite One.

To offer this language because of its formality and distance from the congregant during a time of year when we are vigilant for Immanuel – God with us – and are encouraged go on spiritual journeys that seek out familiarity with chaos, darkness, and uncertainty represents persistence in the delusional by a few in control. It’s like putting snipers on the walls instead of watchmen who tell of the night.

This is the liturgical Christian’s New Year, a time when many of us make resolutions that affect our spiritual journeys. Yet rather than clear the path for us, our churches are cooking up the spiritual equivalent of hospital food.  Either the parish staff goes into hyper drive, colluding with the consumer culture in intention and continuing to send the “don’t bother” message loud and clear, or the small group of church ladies fold their arms to say “We’ve always done it that way.” The one-size fits all sale at Old Navy makes it into the church.

Has anyone out there tried to work with organist/choir directors who tells which hymns are “allowed” to be sung during Advent, for Pageants, and for Christmas?

For more on liturgy and hospital food, scroll down: https://hopefulepiscopalian.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/good-shepherd-sunday/

The churches out there that model the defragmentation process hold the flame of hope as much as Elizabeth and Mary held it in them. They are out there. In those churches….

  • The Advent wreath making takes place on a quiet evening with a family meal. The scent of mulled cider and pine boughs fill the parish hall.  There are no expectations – no production line quota for how many wreaths get into the homes.  And any color candle works.
  • Popularity is not the primary criterion for an offering that relates to spiritual journey.
  • The Advent guest preachers come from the congregation or there is a commitment to interactive sermons and listening to each other.
  • The Christmas Pageant has been replaced with an Epiphany Pageant or Paper Bag Pageant.
  • Lessons and Carols is a community-wide participatory event instead of a show by the “talented” and paid professionals.
  • Instead of special speakers, there are lay-led quiet days. People share their home prayers, liturgies, and other practices – including playlists of Advent music.  The music director listens and responds.
  • Mission and outreach are part of a continuum, not geared up for Advent/Christmas. There are serious discussions about capitalism, the poor, and the Christian faith.
  • A director of faith formation posts a large sheet of paper during coffee hour with the theme of each week of Advent written at the top. People are asked to write their thoughts and memories about Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. These thoughts are incorporated into the worship – including sermons – and life of the parish. The parish musician writes a song for corporate and private worship based on this collaboration.

One more thing to be thankful for…

Episcopal Church To-Do List:

Know the difference between Hope & Optimism

…embrace the former.

There’s been a Facebook challenge since November first to post every day something for which you are grateful.  To read everyone’s personal gratitude lists has given me a few epiphanies about my friends and their lives, offering me new perspectives.

Since reading these, I have begun to muse about the times I worked in a church during this season.

Christ the King Sunday arrives and the plug-and-play organist chooses all the kingly songs, a kingly anthem – maybe the kids sing a zippy “Ride On King Jesus”.  The program in the parish gurgles along in its peristaltic reflexive way – throw in a lot of crowns, kings, reigns, and we’ll be doing right by Jesus.

Then Thanksgiving gets into the mix. In my staff experience, this is a thorny hump in the middle of the week. There are digressions into gossip about the parish fellowship meal which morph into analyzing the history of the community ecumenical Thanksgiving service.  The “positive” aspect of these staff meetings is people imagine they’re focusing on fixing everything while complaining,  idealizing stuff that is always going to be problematic because people are problematic. It would be so much more effective – and spiritually mindful –  to just work together on offering a meal and a worship service. It doesn’t seem worth the energy to try to control who cooks what and who eats what and whether the organist at the Methodist Church is as good as the one at our church. Food, fellowship, music, and prayer.  It’s very simple.

This year, Advent 1 falls on the Sunday immediately after Thanksgiving.  Another staff moan fest  – numbers will be down because people are traveling.  The Sunday School teachers will be a week behind on teaching the kids about…what, exactly… Hope? Everyone will make their Advent wreaths a week later.  And one rector I worked with somehow thought this timing meant more work for her. What the what?

For the faithful who have left the church, we are observing the rise and fall of the spiritual tide, being mindful of the waves on the sand.  We observe the lectionary year prayerfully in our own ways.  We will be decorating for Advent, searching the links between Christ the King Sunday, Thanksgiving, and Advent 1 without waiting to be told what to do or how to do it.

It’s lonely. The faithful are homeless. We dare not go into a church to look for fellow travelers in hope because someone will slap a name tag and a “Smile!” sticker on our lapels.

Christ the King Sunday can be such a tough one to make relevant in the two-thousandies. One year when I was team teaching 6th and 7th grade Sunday School, I was alone with 15 hormonal tweens and teens on this last Sunday in the liturgical year.  Nothing made sense to me in the canned curriculum, which is always a start – unless our teachers, serious catechists, deacons, priests,  bishops, and communications officers, embrace a grounded faith in consort with a willingness to be upended by reality there can be no hope.  We must seek personal transformation, and then the transformation of those around us will happen.

I downloaded about 20 different images of Jesus, and brought in icons and other images I had at home: Jesus the teacher, Christ the king, Jesus the healer, Rasta Jesus, laughing or dancing Jesus, activist Jesus, suffering Jesus, Jesus eating.  Who do you say that I am? We passed the pictures around and talked about which one we related to most.  We talked about what Christ the King is like, questioning if this aspect of Christ was one we could invite into our daily lives.  We laughed when a girl remembered a boy named Jesus in her nursery school who was always hitting the other kids. “Jesus – go to the time-out chair!”

http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/module/faces_of_jesus/

We never came up with a definitive Jesus for everyone.  It was an enormous gift for me because most of the middle schoolers related to laughing or dancing Jesus. Why? “He seems so free to be himself.”  Now, whenever I see a petulant middle schooler, chip on her shoulder, I remember that dream of those Sunday School kids:  to be free to be who God created them to be. I suspend all judgment and head straight for the conversation.  Had I imposed my own notion of what Christ the King meant, or asked the rector for advice I would never have received this ongoing gift.

A few weeks ago, I saw a montage of a lot of Hollywood moments where the slobs got their recognition.  It included things like rewards to the Wizard of Oz quartet and Han Solo and Chewbacca getting cheered by the crowd as they receive laurels from Princess Leia. This moment is inscribed in our hearts through popular culture time and again – from the justifiable humiliation of Lena Lamont when the curtain goes up to reveal who is really singing in Singing in the Rain, or when Jamal rises out of a pit of offal in Slumdog Millionaire.

This is an aspect of a Christ the King moment.  It’s not only that the Risen Christ rules – or reigns or whatever verb the hymnody spits out at us – it’s that the slobs beat the snobs.  Our King is one of us, we are all victors.

And here is where there’s another light on the road for me:  I can travel from Christ the King to Advent 1 in my own spiritual journey because Christ the King represents not royalty or the One who doth Reign, or golden crowns – but hope.  Jesus as wise, compassionate, deserving King is a core story of hope, the theme of the first week of Advent.

The tomb is empty. The cross is bare.  Are we there yet? Yes we are!

Hope is not optimism.  Hope is anchored in reality, and as a basic human yearning, rises up, infecting our actions so we strive through the pain, and the piles of crap around us don’t matter at all.  Optimism, however, likes to redecorate the crap.  A dead end is renamed a cul de sac.

The greater church is intensely engaged in optimism.  This trickles down, permeating every aspect of how we do business.  Check out whatever ENS has put in your in-box for the week and tell me it’s not optimism.  A Phoenix needs ashes to be a phoenix

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.  In short, I think that the deepest and most important form of hope the one that can keep us above water and urge us to do good works, and the only true source of the breathtaking dimension of the human spirit and its efforts is something that we get, as it were, from “elsewhere”.  It is also this hope, above all, which gives us strength to live and to continually try new things even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do here and now.

From the politics of hope by Vaclav Hamel

I wish us all hope on the journey, thanksgiving for hope, and pray for the church that it may find its way in understanding the reality around it – no matter how painful that may be.

You’re an unquestioning Episcopalian to the core if….

Culture check

Culture check

1. You can’t pray without the BCP

2. You think deacons are just a little bit better than lay people, priests are even better than deacons, and bishops are way better than everyone.

3. You think the entire world has its eyes glued on Lambeth and the Lambeth conference but the fact that spellcheck always wants to replace Lambeth with Lambert doesn’t give you pause about Lambeth’s importance.

4. You recommend the book Why Catholics Can’t Sing and don’t notice Episcopalians can’t either.

5. You use the phrase “we are proud of (our organ, rectory, stained glass windows…)” in the parish profile never noticing that pride is a sin or realizing the church is not a building or a collection of things.

6.  You support the MDGs through The Episcopal Church, but your parish has yet to assess its local mission, budget, or energy use and the Rotary Club has been making water accessible or providing education for young women in developing nations for a couple of decades.

7.  When you hear the name Gene Robinson you think of a bishop from New Hampshire and not a Pulitzer Prize-Winning writer for the Washington Post.

8.  When The Episcopal Church offered an alternative sign to “TEC Welcomes You” – The Episcopal Church: We’re here for you – you never noticed that the phrase  was identical to the copy on service signs at Taco Bell.

9. What David Virtue adds to or detracts from public discourse matters more to you than the rise of Glen Beck.

10. You don’t know who Glen Beck is.

11.  You have a fond memory of Gerald Ford’s administration, including the efficacy of the WIN button, because the guy was an Episcopalian.

12. You believe the only people who poke fun at TEC are “conservatives”.

13. You supported Enriching Our Worship for providing liturgies cleansed of sexist language and became a fan of Episcopal Priest Barbie because you think it is a good role model for girls.

14. You wonder why no one’s coming to the Episcopal Church even though you believe TEC “does church” better than anyone else.

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