The far-flung diversity of the Episcopal Church and related things.

With some spare time on my hands, I have been looking further into all the different developments within the U.S. Episcopal Church.

I was surprised to learn that once (2005) there was an Episcopal priest who decided that he should become a Druid instead (at least for a while):

Episcopal priest leaves for Druids

He even has a wiki entry, which references two other Episcopal clergy who co-affiliated with other, maybe diametrically opposed beliefs. (I think one became a Muslim while an Episcopalian priest.)

The Druid-Episcopalian’s wiki entry says that he keeps trying to be restored every year, but the request is turned down. I feel it might be like Sirhan Sirhan and the California pardons board, after a while. Or Harold Stassen, if a wider vote is involved.

The ironic thing is that the earliest Christian priests and bishops in the apostolic succession in Britain must likely have been among ancient Celtic practitioners of Druidism. So in a sense the gentleman could be seen to have been in a revival movement of sorts of Early Christianity.

Here is one about the Zen-practicing Episcopalian priest of Michigan.

I must confess that living overseas, it is sometimes difficult to find the right spiritual surroundings for contemplating a Western religion. There are many Asians of course who practice the Abrahamic religions. (These would be Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.) And there are very good, and vibrant, Christian parishes around—with devoted adherents. So I am not entirely lost. And I take a Vatican Two perspective to spiritual salvation, which is to say that Jesus is the way (by belief), there are other ways to achieve spiritual salvation. As Christians, we can’t even quantify well–without referring to objective moral standards that other nonadherents accept–that a life in the path of Christ is the most sublime supranatural experience. Clearly, we can’t even get all of Christianity–if “get” would even be the goal–to come to any consensuses. That is why it remains “belief” and not science.

Can you be a Shinto and a Christian? Can you be a Buddhist and a Christian? Probably. Is there a path to Jesus Christ through an Eastern religious tradition? I am not sure that Jesus would have closed this off. (Are you?) So the issue is much more complicated than people going off to “try on” some long-ago practice.

I think what miffs the traditionalist Episcopalians is this:

Can you have a leadership role in a Christian denomination, and mix and match, as it were, the different fundamental beliefs?

Then, I think it gets a little tricky.

The man and woman in the pew expect that the religious leadership that stand for something within the following adhere to certain outward beliefs, and as they say, comport themselves in a certain way while they serve a role. (And usually this is a role-for-pay, what we lay people generally call a job.)

I have my specific views of situations like the Good Shepherd Rosemont case <—-link is to David Virtue's copy of the court filing. Here you have the flipside situation to the Zen-Druid-Muslim axis of the Episcopal priesthood. Here you have Episcopalians who were basically the outvoted minority (as minorities always are in a vote), trying to preserve their group traditions, as I emphasize they define them.

In any religious society where a vote will determine what everyone is supposed to believe, you will get your Zen Buddhists, Muslims, Druids. And in a Christian body, they will be outvoted, right? And you will get your Old-Liners, traditionalists, or continuers. And when they lose a vote, well . . .

From a civil law, as opposed to religious law, perspective, I believe the people have to leave a broad definition out there when trying to define another person’s religious belief. Remember: America makes no religious demands on its citizenry. That’s the rule. The reason it’s the rule is that the Founding Fathers saw all the trouble in England and Europe about people fighting about religion, and said we would have none of it. That doesn’t make them un-Christian. I think in many ways that makes them very Christian: no fighting! Consider the bigger principles! Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you!

So these denominational disputes and fights out there have to be separated from the civil law. There must be objective rules to determine things like property and corporate control that do not rely, if at all possible, on adherents’ religious beliefs or judges’ religious beliefs: Neutral Principles of Law.