Wednesday, October 05, 2005

So This Makes Her a Real Campbellite, Or an Episcopalian Wannabe

The religious identity of Harriet Miers is getting more solid, or more fluid, depending on how you look at it.

Both the Washington Times (Motto: "Try to forget that we're owned by Sun Myung Moon") and the New York Times (Motto: "We're so out of touch, we honestly expect that people will pay to read Maureen Dowd online") are reporting that Valley View Christian Church has experienced what is unfortunate, painful, certainly unintended by all parties involved but nevertheless all-too-common occurence in the last few weeks, namely, a congregational division. It appears further that Ms. Miers, though not in the Dallas area much, is identifying with the group that is meeting at a site away from the building.

Circumstances are as follows, from what SWNID has learned both from the newspaper pieces and from a personal sources familiar with the church. A senior minister of long tenure remained with the church while a new minister was brought in as the primary preacher. The arrangement, despite the goodwill of all parties, proved unable to survive. The elders' firing of the long-tenured minister prompted a group of about 150 to meet offsite. That group prevailed upon the fired minister to preach for them, though he had no hand in their leaving. The papers report that the specific matter of disagreement was the use of traditional versus contemporary music in worship.

SWNID, having lived through such circumstances more than once in our ecclesiastical experience, reiterates that all such occasions are painful for all involved. We affirm the goodwill and grace of all involved, and seek to assess no blame. As we sit far from this situation, we are struck simply by the delicious irony of the circumstances for those with no personal stake in the matter. Our observations are prompted by the press's attention to Ms. Miers, nothing more.

What this means for Harriet Miers is that she is really and truly a hard-core Campbellite. She's been through a church division involving the style of worship and the fate of the former senior minister. In independent Christian church identity, being involved in a a mess like this is right behind baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and weekly observance of the Lord's Supper.

One other fun detail: Ms. Miers "Sunday school" teaching was actually in the Sunday evening "Whirlybird" program in the late 70s and early 80s, reports the NY Times. Longtime Campbellite communicants of the center branch will warmly remember Standard Publishing's venerable youth programming material. Whirlybirds was for early elementary kids, graduating to Jet Cadets for pre-teens. Remember the beanies in Whirlybirds? And we'll give bonus points to the gentle reader who can supply the words to the Jet Cadets theme song. I believe it started with the word "zoom" repeated eight times, and then the immortal line, "We are Jet Cadets for Jesus."

The papers also report that Ms. Miers attends some Episcopalian churches in Washington and occasionally in Dallas. SWNID concludes that powerful people are drawn to Episcopalian churches like moths to a flame. Apparently Ms. Miers is also curious about what it feels like to be an Episcopalian. However, we suspect that she would be more the kind of Episcopalian who reads Jan Karon's Mitford books than the kind who after high communion lunches at the country club.

By the way, a Google search for "Episcopalian Jokes" doesn't quickly lead to a major compendium of Anglican humor. We ask gentle readers with more patience and time than SWNID has to carry on the search and share the results in the comments. But we did quickly glean the following:

Q: How can you tell that you're in a high church in West Virginia?
A: TWO snakes.

Q: What's the difference between a Southern Baptist and an Episcopalian?
A: The Episcopalian speaks to you when he sees you at a liquor store.

Scene at an Episcopalian church:
Priest: There's something wrong with this microphone.
Congregation: And also with you.


Rustypants said...

My good friend Coral, from the Indianapolis Diocese, shares this joke frequently when teased about the drinking:

Wherever you find four Episcopalians, you're sure to find a fifth.

Anonymous said...

I'll drink to that! Wait ... I'm not Episcopalian.

Tim said...

“Zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom,

We Are Jet Cadets for Jesus, we are pilots for our Lord.

We have heard to call to action and we’ll serve with one accord.

Come and join our happy crew as we sail into the sky.

We are on the beam for heaven, and we’ll fly, fly, fly.”

Tim said...

How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?

Three. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Anonymous said...

My favorite Episcopalian joke is the "Episcopal Airlines" one. It's terribly long, but so true. (Or at least true to my experience...)

Attention, Episcopal Air passengers for flight 777. The preflight sherry reception will begin shortly at gate 1-C. When the plane is ready for boarding, your flight usher will make the appropriate announcement. Please have your completed pledge card ready to turn in to the usher in the narthex.

Remember that, even though all seats are First Class, the back ro w s fill up first, and those seats are the most expensive. Also be aware that if we cannot meet our budget from the pledges of today’s passengers, we will not be able to fly all the way to New York, but may instead have to land in Sandusky or Poughkeepsie.

B e f o re entering the cloistered jetway, please extinguish all smoking materials except incense. The smoky section for Anglo-Catholics is on the starboard side of the aircraft, rows 1-6. We are sorry we cannot fully accommodate both “high” and “low” passengers on this flight, so we are taking a via media approach and flying at a midrange altitude (as long as there are no obstacles into which to crash, in which case we will have to call our flight tower at 815 for further instructions). We want every comfort for our guests. Our seats are fully cushioned. Our footrests convert easily to padded kneelers. Our life jackets ( G od forbid that we should need them!) are always color- c o o rd i n a t e d to the proper liturgical season. Please speak with the pilot after the conclusion of the flight, if you would like to contribute a memorial stained glass window to this aircraft. You will see some of the windows already contain beautiful designs.

Dinner service will begin shortly after takeoff with cocktails and hors d’oeuvre, followed by a sit-down dinner. Of course our amenities include linen-covered fold-down meal trays. And we use only real china and silver. (For you ecumenical partners traveling with us, re l ax—the pro p e r forks will be served with the proper courses, so you need not worry which one to use to eat what!)

The chamber music trio will be playing in the front of the cabin, and will also be streamed live to the headphones at your seat. Other channels available to you include BBC news, Gregorian Chant, organ favorites, and our latest addition, relaxing nature sounds.

The offices of Evening Prayer and Compline will be offered at the O r a t o ry in the center of the cabin. Everyone is invited to part i c i p a t e . Should the plane experience mechanical difficulties, entrance to the oratory is on a first-come, first-served basis. Praying at your seat is also encouraged. You will find the English-language, 1979 US Book of Common Prayer in your seat pockets. (Available from your attendant by special request, are Spanish or Braille Editions, as well as the 1928,1662, and 1549 -- and New Zealand versions.)

We hope you enjoy your flight. Please introduce yourself to your neighbors and sign the guest book before you leave. This concludes our announcements. Remember that Episcopal Air Welcomes You. Have a nice trip and thank you for flying with Episcopal Air. We hope to see you again soon.

Unknown said...

I was and still am a Jet Cadet for Jesus.