A Frank Admission
I have gotten to an age where I feel less and less inclined to waste my time. When I was younger I felt compelled to prove my case when challenged by people who desired to unchurch me, or to deny the validity of my orders, etc. I was under the mistaken impression that I could reason with them, something I now understand to be impossible.
Perhaps in those earlier days I was really defending my honor more than my church affiliation and its heritage. Perhaps I wanted them to take me seriously. All I know about that for sure is, if I engage in such conversations now it is to help someone in distress who is being mentally bullied by self-appointed "evangelists" of either one or the other of the Two One True Churches. God knows, as do long time readers of The Continuum, that I have written a lot to aid Continuing Anglicans in just that position, including, a few years ago, some who were being bullied by their own bishops to try to slide in to the Roman Catholic Church, by some trick of magic or sleight of hand, without having to change anything.
Well, my frank admission is that I was a rather bad boy the other day. On a facebook page I stumbled across zealous adherents arguing over which of the Two One True Churches was the One-est and the Truest. They were going on about historical details to prove which one came first. In a curmudgeonly state of mind I reminded them that Henry Aaron still comes in first, if only because he didn't do it with steroids.
I received a question in reply. "First at what?" My answer, as any sane man should expect, was, "On the all time home run list of course - Sheesh!." After all, it seemed about time that they got onto a genuinely important topic, and one with a reasonable conclusion possible, that is, one that could be substantiated. I was asked what that had that to do with their discussion. I replied with my usual snarky line about both of the One True Churches, expecting to be ignored. Within seconds I was receiving ecclesiastical insults, being told that they pray for people like me that we would return to the true Church, that I was not a brother in the Lord, that I was not one who shared a common faith. The fellows who wrote those comments were all members of the Orthodox brand.
I know the type. Converts from a lifetime of western Christianity, who are recent converts at that. I replied that I would not enter into any serious discussion with them. You see, when these young men (to me they're young) "convert" they go through a process that begins with being very defensive about why their new Church body is the Whole shootin' match, and why the rest of us are wandering in the dark. I pointed out to them what stage of development they appeared to be in, and that it is something that I hope will not last, and that it is "sort of akin to teething."
Well, my iPhone kept lighting up with comment after comment. What had I gotten into? - and all just to have a little laugh. That'll teach me not to joke around with ultra serious young men. The comments included my being lectured on why one of them could not, in honesty, call me "Father" (I really never asked to be called by any title in the conversation), receiving the usual goofy remarks about not having a valid line of Apostolic Succession, but mostly noticing that they were trying to get a serious reply from me.
Instead they got the following video, a scene from A Night in Casablanca, the great swordfight scene in which Harpo Marx makes a complete mockery out of the ancient art of dueling. I wonder if they got the message which I meant to impart by this reply. Well, I suppose they have no sense of humor at this stage, what with ecclesiastical teething and all that.