Bill Murchison
Every human trend (as those of us who've seen a few will affirm) looks fixed, untouchable, set in ready-mixed concrete. Until, to be sure, something else happens and the betting begins anew.

The leadership of the Episcopal Church has the notion that objectors to the present leadership style better get used to an eternity of choose-your-own-truth theology. Don't bet the 401(k) on it: accounts of the church's recent General Convention notwithstanding.

Things at the General Convention, from a certain perspective, certainly didn't look good. My fellow deputies -- I admit to serving as an elected member of this naughty assemblage -- endorsed pretty much the same menu that hooked Episcopal appetites during the wild and woolly '60s. We're a church whose worship and formularies presuppose the ancient Christian truths; except the way we have come lately to express these truths often makes it seem our principal interests are "social justice," cultural diversity and the liberalization of sexual norms.

We slammed "colonialism," patted the Palestinians on the head, urged new government programs to create jobs, called for a carbon-unfriendly energy policy and instructed priests desirous of doing so to confer the church's blessing upon same-sex unions. I mean, are we the churchy version of The New York Times editorial page or what? Can't you see millions of Americans beating our doors down to hear us address the worst of modern anxieties -- family disintegration, the loss of meaning in life, the burgeoning of government supervision and control over daily existence?

Actually, that's not what the church itself, at a slightly less exalted level, was saying. A report by the Standing Commission on the Mission and Evangelism of the Episcopal Church noted bleakly: "The statistics grow more alarming with each year. ... In 1965, we confirmed 128,000 people. In 2001, we confirmed only 34,000. Our total Sunday average attendance has plunged in the last five years: from 765,326 to 657,831 in 2010. If we wonder about the cause of the decline, we have to pay attention to the degree to which our membership has drifted further and further from the mainstream of

America. Increasingly, we serve as a niche church for a shrinking segment of the American population."

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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