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Oct 28, 2004


Fred Goodwin

With all due respect, John, there are two separate, but related issues at play here, one much more significant than the other. That you downplay the importance of the entire thing is no surprise to me, as that's exactly how the good folks on the HODB list have reacted.

First, the issue of ECUSA posting this pagan "liturgy" on their resources page is a minor flap, but the rationale given in their "response" sounds less than truthful. After all, if the author of the "liturgy" submitted it, how can there be copyright issues? ECUSA complains that CT Weblog didn't seek ECUSA's comments, yet ECUSA didn't bother to ask the author where she came up with the piece before pulling it from the website? How paranoid is that?

But the much larger issue as I see it, is that this incident confirms to the orthodox how far the ECUSA has really strayed from the "faith once delivered". A pagan ritual was posted to an official website of the ECUSA. ECUSA sees nothing wrong with that, only a minor copyright issue. HOBD sees nothing wrong with it. You see nothing wrong with it.

Well, many of the orthodox *do* see something wrong with it; the very fact that so many in the Church don't is evidence of the problem.

Fred Goodwin
Diocese of West Texas


I'm dismayed by the vitriol displayed in the CT weblog. I'm a Canadian Anglican, and yes, sometimes I'm irritated by the silly New Age stuff some Anglicans dabble in. One thinks of the idiotic spiritualist vicars from a hundred years ago. Or look at Marion Zimmer Bradley, who was a nominal Episcopalian when she wrote "The Mists of Avalon," now a key text for a lot of neo-pagans. *But* she eventually tired of it and returned to the Church, saying she'd moved past the pagan thing.
I think the website people could have handled this better, but CT makes the whole thing sound like the EC has been taken over by militant pagans who are promoting gay orgies in churches. My sense is that the Episcopalian conservatives see themselves as being under siege, which justifies them in lashing out spitefully at any blunders the wider church makes.
I suppose we shouldn't tell them that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a druid...

Are ideas really so dangerous, then? We'd better get some books ready to burn, in that case - it's time.

For the hundredth time: these were not authorized rites.

The ECUSA website is quite clear about its theology, on that same website. Here's the "What Makes us Christian?" page. All quite standard: God and Creation; Jesus Christ and the Incarnation; the Trinity; the Resurrection; Eucharist. Isn't that clear enough for you?

And BTW, I agree that this thing was silly and actually quite yawningly dull, in fact. But the "witch hunt" that's going on around it is much more dismaying than the thing itself; to me it appears that conservatives are trying to justify themselves for what's going on now, and are grasping at anything to make themselves feel better.

Because if nobody knew about this before - and it's obvious from the furor that nobody did, including most Episcopalians - what is the issue? Most of us attend standard Rite I or Rite II Eucharists on Sunday, and occasionally Morning Prayer or Evensong.

What I'd really like - and I'm a "liberal," I suppose, since I agree with liberals on homosexuality although I'm theologically quite traditional - is for more Episcopal churches to say mass every day. I'd really like to attend daily Eucharist, and I can't find it anywhere - including at "conservative" parishes. How come?


I was appalled by the liturgy and posted about it last night, but the level of hysteria and vituperativeness surrounding the whole thing was even more disgraceful. The level of outright misogyny was also pretty astounding. I felt like I needed a shower after reading the comments at Titusonenine. Apparently it is no longer sufficient to criticize and correct without personal attacks and villification.


Is it possible to say that such people ought not to be in positions of leadership in the church, without wanting to burn them at the stake? I don't think that brushing off obviously heretical clergy as unimportant is a terribly helpful response either. Today's little fringe cult can rule the joint tomorrow, as the Roman pagans found out. Isn't it better to stop such things before they have a chance to become important?

John Wilkins

Fred, I think that there are some serious issues about this - but they have to do with the priest's caring of their flock without being completely honest.

I will also say that there are good, credible, reasons to be against a particular form of liturgy that is typically considered "feminist." Now, I think there are lots of kinds of feminism, but the earthy kind is found in traditional church theology as called natural theology.

I think that on the grounds of essentialism [of gender, in this case] and the elevation of nature [which has problems] we can argue against the druidic theology.

On the other hand, it is something as old as Thoreau and Emerson, and very American in its idea that we can just go and create a religion. Fred, I have trouble with this also, but I admit my hesitation is that I think the root impulse to create one's own faith is as commonplace as watching Oprah.

Still, the anger on the website was startling.

John wilkins

And, I guess, since I find that kind of priest very very rare [but every diocese seems to have one], I don't think that it is typical. More often, the compelling parish priests are those who are very biblically centered, but focus on social justice. I do know some chaplains and psychotherapist priests who dabble in the more esoteric, however.

Fred Goodwin


“Fr” Melnyk appears to be using his parish “discretionary fund” for some Druidic project, he’s posted in a Druid discussion forum that he and his wife treat their congregations as “groves", and he says he leading his parishioners in learning “Druidry".

You don’t see even the slightest problem with any of that?

Fred Goodwin
Diocese of West Texas

John Wilkins

Um, well, yes, I do see a problem with using the discretionary fund for non-church activities. As I said, the issue for me is the parallel life he's leading. That said, Christianity Today could have called to ask the poster about what the liturgy was all about. They could have gotten the story right, instead of connoting that this was common. Second, instead of a witch hunt, someone - could have contacted them directly for a one-on one email correspondence to learn if his bishop was OK with it. If not, ask if the parish was OK with it. And then ask Fr. Melnyk, as a Christian, to tell the truth to both. If he did not, then tell the Sr. Warden. Let the Sr. warden deal with it and share it with the Bishop.

Instead, calls to everyone including the Archbishops, with the irresponsible claim that this, somehow, represents the Episcopal Church. It's hysteria, pure and simple.


Absolutely John...pure hysteria.

I was pretty amazed that folks were making a mountain out of this molehill. Just goes to show you how naive I am, I suppose.

So a couple of priests like to dance skyclad in the moonlight. Lots of strange folks end up wearing clerical collars. Let their bishop deal with it. And get someone new to monitor what gets posted on that site.

Gotta admit, though, that one rite with all the kissing was pretty hot stuff...but I digress...

CT has despised TEC for a long time. That's nothing new. Note how they made a point to yoke it to the Windsor Report. Ok, CT, we heard you, for the umpteenth time; we're going to hell in a handbasket. Thanks a bunch for your generous Christian charity.

It's enough to drive one to quoting Wordsworth, you know?

THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Bill R]iggs

The Melnyk liturgy itself is highly provovative, and I think the reference to the Queen of Heaven amounts to heresy, pure and simple. The whole thing bears a very strong resemblence to the "Sophia" prayer recitede at Reimagining I.

Caught red-handed, they were.


Queen of Heaven? You mean the Virgin Mary?

"Queen of Heaven" is one of her titles. Maybe she is really a Pagan influence too?

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