Is it because the idiots have been exiled from Washington? Suddenly I am hearing about or from people who are clearly out of touch with the world as I know it.

It began with an article in the Living Church, a bit on the conservative side of church issues but still a reasonable magazine. There was an article telling us that those who don’t know the gospel will go to hell. So you live in a jungle so dense that no outsider has ever been there and no missionary has found you. Tough! You go to hell.

Unbelievable! The church has never taught that. Medieval theologians worried about Plato and Aristotle who lived before the gospel. No problem. The righteous pagan will still be saved. So you live in an impenetrable jungle. But no one is condemned for “invincible ignorance.” Can someone be smart enough to write a letter to a church magazine and not know this?

The next day I was listening to Jim Vicevich. I have to because his station is the only one that provides local weather forecasts. He’s our local version of Rush Limbaugh and he was all over Nancy Pelosi because she, as a Roman Catholic, was saying the church had not consistently taught that life begins at conception. Vicevich wanted us to know that the church has taught that life begins at conception for 2000 years and we can be sure of that because the pope said so. Of course, the church hasn’t been around for 2000 years, but let’s not quibble. Nancy Pelosi was citing, quite accurately, St. Augustine who suggested that life begins at three months. Other quite reputable theologians thought it began at quickening. But here’s a man who talks to more people every day than ever heard of St. Augustine, and he’s ignorant.

And today I had a phone call from Florida from someone who edits a magazine and thought I was an expert on the Episcopal Church. He’s writing an article about the second coming and wondered what the Episcopal Church teaches on the subject. I told him that we recite the Creed which says, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” We say it in the Eucharist: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” But when? he asked. The Bible doesn’t say, I told him, so we don’t know. Jesus said he didn’t know, so that kind of settles it. So what about the rapture? he asked. It’s not in the Bible. Will the second coming be physical or spiritual? Do we need to make that distinction? So are Episcopal Churches free to have different beliefs on that? Episcopalians individually are free to believe whatever they want but I doubt any particular parish ever felt a need to go beyond the Bible and Creeds. Why would anybody? Don’t they have better things to do? Couldn’t they take up knitting or something?

No wonder Washington has been such a mess. They represent us. And it seems that we are a mess. I know how Hamlet felt: “The world is out of joint, O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right.” But I know how far Hamlet got with the job and I don’t have much hope that I or even Barack Obama can solve the problem anytime soon.

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