Sunday, as a favor to a friend, I went to an Episcopal church I had attended in the 1980s, located about ten blocks north of the White House. To my great disappointment, its peculiarly Episcopal symptoms of the terminal illness affecting Christianity convinced me of the relative wisdom of my current apostasy and agnosticism.
First, of course, the church was near empty at the mid-morning second service of the day, typically the best attended. They'd disguised it with the oldest church trick in the book: removal of pews. But the church still looked empty.
Second, the black female homilist was a walking, talking Republican advertisement against affirmative action. It wasn't bad enough that she read her flat, uninspiring and derivative sermon. She simply could not read! I'm not kidding. The words and their pronunciation were entirely foreign to her, although she spoke with an accent as American as apple pie.
Third, there were a slew of announcements by church committee heads. All expressed that false American Protestant cheer ("ha, ha") to signal the good, clean fun of a book and CD sale or the fulfillment of hearing teens' "profound" questions to the church's seminarian about his trip to the Military Republic of Kumbaya, where distressing things are happening. They all made a pitch for more volunteers since, from the look of things, they were the only members of their activities -- and no wonder.
The rector (not the homilist) was the parish's second female in that position, not the elegant former actress I had had a hand in selecting, but one who made an earnest Episcopal try to sound horsey and look dowdy, all reinforced by robust bursts of entirely forced laughter.
Let's not leave out the after-service coffee and its swarm of men with bejewelled ears and tones borrowed from their mothers.
No wonder the Episcopal Church is falling apart.