It could be said that I am approaching the 1 year anniversary of my Episcopapostasy. Oh sure, there was that little lapse at Advent, but overall, I have joined the ranks of the unchurched. From nave and sanctuary to Boulevard Noir and Outer Darkness is a small step through an transparent curtain, one of those glassine sci-fi membranes between two realities that ripples momentarily with passage then closes invisibly over.
I envisioned a Church where all priests resemble a tormented Max Von Sydow exorcist, where parish life is much like life in a Carthusian Monastery, whose theology is a hybrid mix of Paul Tillich, Meister Eckhart, Baruch Spinoza, Eihei Dogen and Christopher Hitchens, whose liturgy is a melancholic, chanted variation of the Latin Mass with heavy emphasis on full prostrations, whose gloomy parishioners eschew all eye contact and compete fiercely for the coveted spots in the shadowy back pews, and whose liturgical year oscillates between Advent and Lent with nothing in between.
Yeah, well. How did that work out for ya ?
No, Church is no place for gloomy singletons. We look around at the cheerful, convivial, kind and helpful faces shining in the pews and feel the depth of our alienation, our irrevocable, indelible otherness. We burn with shame because we cannot reduce the Infinite, Incomprehensible Numinous Ground of Being to a particular man who lived in a particular desert 2000 years ago, preached, was martyred and was resurrected -- depending on your view -- either into a heavenly, atoning reality or a complicated, guiding metaphor. In either case, it's been get thee behind me Jesus. I find the universalist claims of Julian of Norwich's hazelnut more plausible than the divine ones made for, if not by, JC. And the Bible ? Don't get me started -- it's an unpleasant text,
bad graffitti on the water tank of the world, and I reply to its disingenuous question - no, no, no, no, no, no, no !
Yes, I hear them, the vast braying chorus of Reverends Lillian, tut-tutting any non-Jesusy, non-Churched right to the various existential-spiritual-metaphysical goods and services of the religious world. Selfish, they hiss. Selfish, selfish, selfish ! The adamantly unflocked lamb has (in their eyes) no legitimate claims to any spiritual life. O pitiable creature (they pray) may the wolves of the world devour you swiftly to end your miserable hell of unaffiliation !
Faugh. Do vegans look to the Beef Council for approval ? Why won't my case ever rest ?
And then there is the spectacle of Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis finding common ground over the intrinsically disordered thing. And what about the absolutely null and utterly voidy thing ?
Uh, Justin, you know that Eucharist you think you have just confected ? Sorry. Just a cookie.
Spider ? Meet spiderwort, dudes of the endless fashion show.
So there you have it, another chapter of the long, farcical saga of my religious life has closed. I am back in the meadow with the salsify, field garlic, milkweed, cinquefoil and cow vetch, flinching at the approach joggers, dog-and-baby walkers, bicyclists and other hale and congregational fellows.
oh, the lovely, shadowy last pew of the world...