What hit me during discussions of the latest Episcopal/Anglican/Cosmic caucus or coalition or co-op or whatever or is that there is a symbiosis shaping the leadership, formal and informal, within The Episcopal Church (TEC).
The two organisms that coexist to lead are
A. The overwhelming majority of members who are elderly, who have endured life's labors and whose primary interests are comfort and familiar fellowship for their remaining years. They are likely the last generation we will experience that can leave substantial financial and material assets to others. They will give generously to keep the church going, as long as it is somewhat predictable (even in decline) at the local level. They will not engage what they perceive as distant church conflicts and they are prone to believe quixotic claims about "getting the young people back into church."
B. The LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered & other) activists. This is a very small faction, numerically, and does not include all or maybe even most of the LGBT people in TEC (there are many in group "A", for example). The activists are taken with the drama of politics and public symbolism, church pageantry and rituals. They do not care about the overall well being of the church as long as they win symbolic battles for their own group insiders.
The symbiosis has several features:
1. The activists are destroyers, not builders, and as such cannot produce resources to carry on their work. Thus, the donations, buildings and other institutional infrastructure of the elderly members are essential for the activists' public political theatre to continue.
2. The elderly members want to hear that the church has a future, and the activists confidently, unashamedly and in spite of all contrary evidence claim that they will fill the church with young people.
3. The activists thrive on politics and win their victories in the distant venues (church conventions, boards and bureaucracies) that the elderly majority no longer wish to engage.
4. The elderly members don't get too exercised by the absurdities carried out by the activists in far off venues, so the activists are free to function as a ruling elite.
5. The activists tell the elderly members that "all is well" and the elderly members continue to send money.
6. The activists offer the hot attacks on any who question the direction of TEC, and the elderly majority offer cold attacks - "Why are those people making so much trouble? We just don't understand all the fuss!"
The product of this symbiosis is an amazing sterility. Neither the elderly majority nor the activists, as made clear by TEC's own internal reports and by common sense, are able to add to the church through reproduction, intergenerational transmission of faith or evangelism among the unchurched.
The symbiosis is a "one generation strategy", seeing to the pleasures and perks of the current members of TEC. It has no vision and certainly no plan for a missionary legacy to the church or the world.
So the final feature of the symbiosis is that both organisms support each other in a big lie about "doing the church's mission."