... we oft doubtWhat th’ unsearchable dispose
Of highest wisdom brings about ...
Oft he seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns
And to his faithful champion hath in place
Bore witness gloriously
...from Samson Agonistes by John Milton
There have been times in Christian history when “church” — perhaps once upon a time for Episcopalians especially — was experienced as comforting and consoling. Ours is not such a time! But neither, except in the most ultimate sense of eternal hope, was Christian discipleship ever intended to be a matter of taking one’s ease in Zion — not for the first generation of Christians; not for the front-line martyrs of Christian mission in any age; not for those who made their witness during the Protestant Reformation, the formation of “daughter” post-colonial churches independent of the British Crown, or the Anglo-Catholic renewal of the nineteenth century.
We too are living in a time of the shaking of ecclesiastical foundations. At the Cathedral, our own renovation — correcting what has been identified as a structural “birth defect” in our church’s original construction — is an immediate if ironic symbol of the spiritual condition of our denomination. Does the Episcopal Church as we know it suffer from an institutional, if not theological, birth defect? Is there something in the ecclesiastical DNA of Anglicanism itself which has brought us to our present unpleasantness? Read the rest.