Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What's Next for the Reformation, pt. 2 - I have never been an Episcopalian, let alone an Episcopalian Bishop. So I'm aware that I am not in the best position to advise the newest head of the Episcopalian Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, on much of anything. But I am also aware that, every now and again, I give some of my best advice when I'm in no position to do so. After taking a gander at last Sunday's New York Times Magazine interview with Rev. Dr. (besides her degrees in Divinity, she also has a Ph.D. in oceanography) Schori, I'll start with suggesting that she dispense with the interdenominational condescension towards her co-religionists - as was evidenced by her response to a question about the number of Episcopalians in the U.S.

About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.
In an unfortunate encore, when Dr. Schori was asked by the interviewer if Episcopalians "aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children," Dr. Schori went on to say, "it’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion." That gets me to my other piece of free advice, which would be for Dr. Schori to avoid the shopworn neo-Malthusian claptrap about mankind placing an insurmountable burden on the earth's resources.

Dr. Schori's comments beg several interesting questions. First, is the low birth rate for Episcopalians evidence that they are smarter than than other Christians? Secondly, are Episcopalians better stewards of the planet (and perhaps by extension, "better" Christians) simply because they "tend to reproduce at lower rates than some denominations?" Third, can a Christian denomination be in a good stead if it fails to reproduce sufficiently to "replenish their ranks?" For my money, I would be willing to let Dr. Schori and those of her ilk provide us that answer by their personal example.

No comments: