Dan Martins: Base Two


Fr. Dan Martins has a post up on his blog in which he discusses the increasingly common phrase “There are two religions in the Episcopal Church”…

“The rhetoric of ‘two religions’ is of understandable etiology. Decisions within the church are made, more or less, according to political processes. Political processes are by nature binary. You vote Yes or No on the proposition. You vote for the Democrat or the Republican. (Cut me some slack here; I know there are other parties, but let’s be real.) The motion carries or the motion is defeated. (We don’t call them ‘resolutions’ for nothing; they resolve a question one way or another.) In times of church conflict, we lean more and more heavily on political processes, so we are all the more susceptible to binary thinking.

Binary thinking, and the binary rhetoric that flows from it, serves a political end by taking questions that are complex, as questions worth fighting about invariably are, and giving them simple answers. Everybody, of every political persuasion, does it; given enough time and energy I could cite numerous examples from both ends of the spectrum within TEC. Then, when those who generate the rhetoric start to believe their own propaganda, that things are actually that simple, as invariably happens, we get entrenched positions and intractable conflict. The polemics become veritably cosmic, with the forces of Good arrayed against the forces of Evil on the plain of Armageddon.

But there’s a small problem with binary thinking. It very seldom is an accurate representation of the truth. Sometimes it’s a helpful construct for the purpose of analysis and discussion and strategizing, but it is at best a crude model of actual reality. OK, that isn’t such a small problem after all. It’s kind of a big problem. Because not fully representing the truth is to actually purvey falsehood. And when the corporeal integrity of the Body of Christ is at stake, we need to have a fairly low tolerance for falsehood.”

Dan is saying much more eloquently something I’ve been harping on for years now – and which was a primary reason for my motivation of refusing to characterized as an either/or sort of person.

And even though we probably disagree on any number of things, I’m delighted and grateful that he and I are both members of the same church.

Read the rest here: Base Two

(Via Confessions of a Carioca.)

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

1 Comment

  1. Paul Martin says

    Thank you for posting this, Nick. It’s one I’m going to remember.

Comments are closed.