The more I hear and read stories of the exploits of Episcopal Bishops and clergy, the more a word keeps ping-ponging in my brain: "Poseur." I looked it up this morning to see if I was using it properly, and here is what I found: "a person who attempts to impress others by assuming or affecting a manner, degree of elegance, sentiment, etc., other than his or her true one; One who affects a particular attribute, attitude, or identity to impress or influence others; a person who habitually pretends to be something he is not."
Yep, right on target. The largest example, of course, is the many TEO clergy who claim to be Christian leaders, but by their actions, and in some cases their words, clearly are not. How many times have we seen reports, most recently compiled by the American Anglican Council, of the dozens of actions and statements by TEO Bishops and clergy that are abjectly inconsistent with what the bible tells us it means to be a Christian? And despite the gargantuan effort by the AAC in compiling their 42-page report, we also know of many more such incidents, the latest of which is the election of a Bishop in Northern Michigan who also claims to be a lay-ordained Zen Buddhist, a faith/philosophy which includes among its basic beliefs that there is no "God" per se.
But it goes on, unheard and unseen, at the local level, too. I have recently heard stories of a priest, not long out of seminary (so presumably well-steeped in the training of TEO), who has refused to allow a church member to speak to the congregation about a community medical mission, i.e., a significant mission opportunity in the community, for which the local Christian Church has raised some $5,000. This same priest has directed his attention to a child care center adjacent to his church, which has been ignored by the church as a mission opportunity for years. His purpose? To demand a portion of the child care center's "profits" for the church (it is a non-profit organization), and still no corresponding effort at "mission." His rationale? Indecipherable. There are many more such examples with this priest and with many others, of all ages, as well.
There is no question that there are many fine Episcopalian clergy, even among new seminarians. I will concede that. There are plenty who are truly called to the priesthood and to fulfill a spiritual duty to God and to the world. It is not of them I speak.
Why is it, though, that we continue to see more and more "priests" at all levels of the organization who more clearly fit the definition of "poseur"? I suspect they are much less "called" to the priesthood than they are looking for an easy way to make a living and gain respect and power. They wear the clerical collars and the black or magenta shirts, and conduct services, but are in no way shepherds to their flocks. When they write a "pastoral letter" they make that term an oxymoron. They believe they are so intelligent and well-educated that they "understand" the Scriptures far better than anyone has in the last 2000 years of Christianity, and in their arrogance treat those of us who still read our Bibles and believe Jesus is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" as if we are superstitious fools. And they will debate religious or canonical terminology on an academic level until the proverbial cows come home, but have no grasp of the spiritual meaning, intent, or overriding purpose of such language, rendering them easy to cast aside in the path of their "larger" strategeries.
Yes, I'm venting this morning. But I find that it has become ever easier to tap into my river of disgust and downright anger over the growing abuses of trust being perpetrated by so-called clergy within TEO. Yes, I'm out of TEO and have been for some time. But I still see what these people are doing to friends and family who remain clinging to those deck chairs as TEO tips ever more steeply into the abyss, and I can find no justification for tolerating them and their malfeasance.