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Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity Hardcover – April 14, 2009
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The content, like the writing, is open to personal preference. There seems not a lot of hard data in what I personally take to be the slow-motion collapse of the Episcopal Church in America. Unlike the ongoing presidential elections in America, one does not find regular polling, frequent vote tallies, and so forth. Authors therefore work without an abundance of hard data. That means more generalizations get made and validating those generalizations gets harder. To me, this book seems not so much a scholarly treatment of the subject as it is a good piece of reporting. Consequently the book serves a wider audience well, but does so without what I call, for want of a better term, scholarly precision. Most readers likely will be grateful for this outcome.
I think the author's assertions are credible and helpful. He tries, I think, to be even-handed, even though his own allegiance seems to be with Scripture rather than with the Episcopal Bishops (taken, of course, as a whole). These days, it might not be possible to support both the Episcopal Bishops (taken, of course, as a whole) and the Bible, so efforts at being even-handed become tight wire acts. One has to give him credit for trying to walk the wire rather than simply going another route.Read more ›
This is an informed and serious book that seeks to answer the question: what went wrong in the Episcopalian Church?
Murchison covers the history of the Episcopal Church over the past half a century, beginning with the 1950s until the year 2003 which, as everyone knows, saw the consecration of the first openly homosexual bishop, Gene Robertson.
However, Murchison does not make the mistake of focussing solely on what has become known as the "gay issue". Instead, he takes the EC to task for the following:
(1) Its enthusiasm for, rather than critique of, prevailing secular culture.
(2) Its constant revision of a time-honoured and much-loved liturgy in favour of what the leaders of the EC, in the 1970s, regarded as contemporary, even "hip" forms of expression.
(3) Its gradual transformation into an organisation committed primarily to social activism and its quiet, but persistent, abandonment of Christian metaphysics ("The oddness of Mrs Jefferts Schori's catalogue consists in the unspoken implication that the Episcopal Church is the Peace Corps in ecclesiastical vestments" - page 197.)
(4) The fact that, from the 1950s onwards, at least some of its opinion-makers were, in fact, not really Christians at all. Here Murchison cites the Rev Joseph Fletcher, whose book Situation Ethics, was highly influential throughout the mid-1960s and early 1970s. Fletcher later admitted that he had never been a "religious man and never pretended to be".
(5) The fact that some of its leaders, while espousing "inclusivism", have been quite prepared to bully and harass both traditionalists and the wisely cautious.
This book should be read by anyone who takes the claims of the Christian religion seriously, particularly if he or she is a member of a church ruled by a hierarchy whose members are only accountable to each other.
Jane Smith (Pretoria, South Africa)
Non-Episcopalian readers will find in this book a cautionary tale of what can happen when a Christian denomination puts man ahead of God. "Christianity-lite" may do wonders for promoting a guilt-free, anything-goes lifestyle, but it'll put your denomination out of business within the span of two or three generations.
Of course, with the Episcopalian crowd, it's always been more about "money, prestige and power" than spirituality. And therein lies the huge irony: Despite all of their efforts to remain popular and relevant in today's world, the Episcopal Church has actually ended up with less money, less prestige and less power rather than more, as this book chronicles quite clearly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I want to preface this by saying that I was raised as a Methodist but I am now an atheist; the reader may make of that what he/she wishes. Read morePublished on October 7, 2012 by Elizabeth A. Root