I was born into and baptized Episcopalian in 1945, later confirmed. As a result I have witnessed the rise and fall from grace of this once great and powerful denomination.
From my point of view, I would have to say — as the venerable Mead seems to indicate but cannot quite say — that the devolution of the Episcopal church is primarily by its own hand. In this well-written and heart-felt commentary we see the hubris that ran in front of nemisis at almost every turn when the church repeatedly sought to do “the right thing for the wrong reason.”
The flock does not gather when the shepherds seek to baptize and consecrate the wolves in the endless quest for “the greater good.” The church has rendered itself into mere shells seen in large but largely empty churches via an unremitting series of steps in which each step was touted as “the right thing to do,” and devil take the hindmost.
And the devil, it seems, has had his due.
This self-willed failure to thrive is of course not limited to only the Episcopal church but has infected pretty much all the mainline churches.
Joseph Bottom’s “The Death of Protestant America: A Political Theory of the Protestant Mainline” sets out this painful process quite clearly and I commend it to you.
It can be found at
Fascinating stuff. I look forward to reading the rest of your father’s thoughts as I approach the completion of my theological education some 55 years after he completed his.
Some of us who grew up in mainline Protestant denominations moved in other directions when we started reading Alan Watts, Dr. Suzuki or R.H.Blyth. Faith for us became the quest for spiritual experience beyond the abstractions of theology and the endless arguments over doctrine.
Pretrib Rapture or Pretrib Rupture (Obama)
If you’re into pre-Halloween, unapproved-by-Obama scares found deep inside the “underground” internet, Google “Michelle Obama’s Allah-day,” “Madam Nancy Pelosi’s Brothel District,” “Obama Supports Public Depravity,” “Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham,” and “Imam Bloomberg’s Sharia Mosque.”
If you’re expecting a rapture instead of a rupture, Google “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” and “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy.”
Very edifying. My church read your father’s book a couple of years. Till now I didn’t know you two were related.
Walter, as editor of Sharing the Practice, I was pleased to work with your father in preparing and publishing this essay. I think it’s a very telling piece that is helpful for us all to consider. We do live in a different time, and the church must always be aware of its surroundings. The evangelical churches that have boomed of late have done so by appealing to Baby Boomers, even as the Mainline churches boomed by appealing to their parents. But the times are again changing and both faith communities are struggling to connect. The conservative theology/politics that has driven the political battles of late, are being found wanting by younger adults — and many of them are simply leaving the church.
Just a minor correction: Herberg, not Hertzberg. Otherwise, no way I get into this subject.
Moving and informative. As a lagniappe, would Mr. Mead, fils, maybe give us his view on the stewardship of the current Archbishop of Canterbury? He’s made a splash with both his theological and political stands– and , of course, has an important relationship with the Episcopal church. Please don’t understand this as a furtive
rebuke or approval of Rowan; I’m interested , is all.
Delighted to see Loren in print again… this is an important look at ministry of those of us from “another century”- especially in light of the challenges facing our successors today. I await the follow up with joyful anticipation…