An Anglican priest is supposed to have lamented, “Wherever St. Paul went, a riot broke out; wherever I go, I am invited to tea.” Well, this could be said of most of our spiritual leadership, I’m afraid. A polite tea party was held recently, whereupon the gentle men wrote up their gentle findings as the “Manhattan Declaration.” (Note that the text displayed on the web page is twice-condensed: a once-condensed and full-text version can be downloaded.)
One line of criticism of their project is the ecumenicity of Prelatic and Evangelical, which is nicely parodied here. I would only add, that if the particular points of this manifesto are all they could come up with, then why not become even more ecumenical and invite like-minded Unitarians and atheists? True, they sign it “as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” but that comes at the end of the short statement, there is no attempt to show implication, and they are not signing it as authorized agents of the representative church of any of their branches. Why even mention that the group of signatories happens to include — and no more than hap can be claimed — individuals that are members of three branches of Christendom?
However, let us drill deeper. The three points, shorn of all the committeespeak, and put in plain English, are these:
1. Burning babies to death in saline solution is not a good thing.
2. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.
3. Those that affirm the first two points should not be imprisoned and black-listed.
Is it not odd that as noisy “followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” they don’t think to mention the public blasphemy of his holy name in the movies being poured down the throats of the nation’s young people? At the end of the day, I suspect these men know whose bread needs to be kept buttered above all else.
On the other hand, in the full-text version, they do find time to praise historical Christian involvement in democracy, abolitionism, first-generation feminism and the American Civil Rights movement, even though there were undoubtedly more Christians rightly opposed to those movements than engaged in them. The great Plagiarist and Adulterer is also cited favorably.
Nevertheless, the three points are a summary of where we have arrived politically, sufficient to point out that this is not the stuff for polite position papers: it is the stuff of revolutions. If we had real leaders, they would be advising us as to whether it is time for men to rise up with arms in defense of their families and property, and kill the wicked usurpers — and if it is not time, explain how we will know when it is time. We certainly do not need more double-minded men writing up the minutes of their tea parties for the whole world to see. I don’t know which I dread more: a new string of conferences, special discounts available if you send your money in right away, or the inevitable “get the message out” fund-raising letters, no doubt coming soon. Meanwhile, the dragon yawns, his most essential principles having been conceded once again.