Which Side Are You On?

Brother Causticus recalls with a certain asperity an occurrence some years back he finds illustrative of the current unpleasantness within the Episcopal Church. It was an occasion of faculty labor unrest at an institution of higher learning. BC disremembers the proximate cause of discontent, but a noontime rally was called where learned speaker after learned speaker thunderously decried the depredations of the trustees, administrators, and other forces of darkness. BC joined a dubious knot of fellow undergraduates standing on the fringes of the conclave hoping our presence might be interpreted as support by those who would be shortly issuing our grades for the rapidly waning academic term.

The capstone to this fol de rol was the ascension to the platform of an associate sociology professor toting a banjo. Dripping as he still was with the dew of innocence, Brother Causticus did not fully perceive this as the incipient threat it surely was. Adjusting the microphone with a desultory clunk, the Appalachian-aping pedagogue launched into a spirited (by which BC means loud and rather off-key) rendition of the old union ballad "Which Side Are You On?"

As the erstwhile molder of minds intoned line after line, to the great approbation of his peers, recounting the desperate struggle of Harlan County hard rock miners offering up actual blood in their fight against a monstrously unjust lot, a tremulous little titter began to develop within our clump of young scholars. BC could feel the eyes of his roommate, a noted campus wit, boring into the back of his neck and knew that, should BC turn to meet his gaze, the jig, as they say, would be up.

Manifesting as adequate a poker face as he could, BC solemnly withdrew with his roommate to the confines of their dormitory where, behind closed doors, they practically wet themselves with amusement. While BC is not unsympathetic to the very real frustration of attempting to coax out even modest facility with the language from the disinterested denizens of bonehead English, the conflation of the lot of the public university professor with that of a laborer doing dirty, dangerous work a mile underground for starvation wages and headed almost certainly to an early, dingy death was, in a word, preposterous and more than a bit presumptuous.

With this most instructive incident in mind, let us turn our focus on the various factions struggling for control within the Episcopal Church and their collective id as expressed through the Anglican blogosphere. Largely well-educated, largely well-fed -- yes, BC has seen many of you in person and in photographs -- and largely comfortable in life, each warrior of words imagines himself the embodiment of the Church Militant engaged in mortal combat with the Father of Lies -- whether he be found in the fundagelical machinations of schismatic hatemongers funded from the deep and shadowy pockets of neoconservative billionaires or in the limp heresy of ineffectual do-gooders in sensible shoes passing resolutions in support of homosexuals and other terrorists at the annual assembly of the National Council of Churches.

As the battle is thusly joined, Brother Causticus is often asked, "Which side are you on?" To which he can only reply that he is firmly on the side of the adults.

The noted public intellectual P.J. O'Rourke once observed, "Polarization is the crack cocaine of politics. One hit and you want another." The various parties in the current Episcopal contretemps and their extrusions into the Anglican blogosphere occupy a veritable crack house of polarization. A well-appointed and tastefully furnished crack house in the right sort of neighborhood, of course, but a den of junkies nonetheless.

When BC speaks of "the adults," he is referring to those who never picked up this particular pipe or, barring that, have put it down and logged a decent interval of industrious sobriety. The adults of BC's acquaintance are faithfully serving their Lord in small, mundane ways: patiently listening to that dotty old dear at the church supper go on about her cats, taking the blind neighbor to Divine Services, helping a Sunday School child build a popsicle stick Jerusalem, rising early to tidy the church before an unexpected funeral, praying with an anxious mother in the hospital emergency room, or trying to see the best in those with whom they might disagree.

When the thundering warriors of words are done with whatever they are doing with our Church, the adults will remain -- as they always do schism after schism -- quietly seeking and serving Christ in their neighbor and walking humbly with their God.

Brother Causticus will in these pages wield the mighty Rod of Reproof where it is warranted. Fear the Rod of Reproof, Anglican crackheads of the blogosphere! At times, BC will unfortunately appear to be cut from the same cloth as those bearing the brunt of his chastisement. But Brother Causticus gives you his most solemn word that he will never forget the adults and, despite his own splenetic inclinations, do his best to be one himself.