One expects good journalism from the Wall Street Journal. What we got instead today in their reporting of General Convention was an inaccurate and nasty diatribe against the Episcopal Church in general and our Presiding Bishop in particular.
I hesitate even to give out the link to this example of muckraking, but I guess I must if I am to refute the errors it contains. If you are an Episcopalian and read it, be prepared to be slimed.
The reporter himself as an Episcopalian, but it is clear that he knows little or nothing about our Church. I very much doubt he even attended.
The Article is entitled, "What Ails the Episcopalians" and begins by saying that General Convention "is noted for sheer ostentation and carnival atmosphere. For seven straight nights, lavish cocktail parties spilled into pricey steakhouses, where bishops could use their diocesan funds to order bottles of the finest wines."
I can tell you as a veteran of three of these gatherings, that I have never come close to a lavish party or a bottle of expensive wine. I took my breakfast at Starbucks, and lunch was usually at Subway. Our last dinner get together as the Arizona deputation was at a local sports bar--pictured below! Not a bottle of expensive wine in sight!
That's for starters. The Presiding Bishop (whom she incorrectly calls "Bishop Shori"), her next target, she calls "secretive an authoritarian", who rules through a cabal of committees which she controls and who "brazenly" carries a metropolitan cross in procession. The first charge is laughable, the second just plain wrong. Previous Presiding Bishops carried this cross because they are, well, Primates of the Church!
Next comes a whole litany of attacks one usually hears from the ultra-right--the Episcopal Church has declined because of its liberal stands on social issues (actually all expressions of organized religion in the United States are in numerical decline, the Southern Baptists--hardly a liberal church--being the leader). The church is in financial trouble because of the cost of litigation over breakaway groups which have tried to take our property--also not true, most legal costs have been born by individual dioceses, and in fact giving to the church increased this year.
If the reporter had bothered to talk to those of us who attended, he would have learned that General Convention was a wonderfully hopeful and positive experience, with better collegiality and cooperation that I have ever seen.
We Episcopalians can be hopeful about a church that has the self-awareness to take on its own restructuring, take prophetic positions on the world's urgent problems, include all people in its sacramental life, and proclaim to the Good News of Jesus in many new and creative ways. And we do it all in a uniquely democratic manner, which is sometimes messy, but always Spirit-filled.
I am at loss to understand how the Journal would permit this kind of article to published in its paper without even checking basic facts. Could it be that the editorial board has connections with some of those groups who seek to discredit "mainline" American churches? In any event, such "reporting" is hardly worthy of such a venerable publication.
I have only one more thing to say to the Wall Street Journal: I am cancelling my subscription.
[Note: Since I wrote this on July 13, I have learned a few things. First, the Wall Street Journal reporter is not a woman, as I originally thought, and he has written before for Virtue Online. I was also reminded that the Journal is now owned by Rupert Murdoch who uses his media outlets to further his own right wing agenda. I would also recommend two additional responses. George Congar is a conservative writer, but he too has panned this particular hatchet job. http://www.getreligion.org/2012/07/rum-sodomy-and-the-cash-the-episcopal-church/ Scott Gunn, head of Forward Movement Publications, provides a closer criticism of the article at http://www.sevenwholedays.org/2012/07/13/errors-wsj/]