by Christopher Johnson
May 6th, 2009
With General Convention coming up in a couple of months, everyone wonders if the Episcopal Organization will repeal Resolution B033 and finally declare that it will ordain anyone to the episcopate that it wants to and that it does not care and will never care what the rest of the Anglican world thinks about anything.
But a correspondent has alerted me to the fact that the Episcopalians seem poised to take a far more radical step. Buried deep in the morass of legislation and stupid resolutions which are usually voted on at every General Convention is Resolution A095:
RESOLUTION A095 APPROVE LITURGICAL CALENDAR COMMEMORATIONS Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the commemorations of Harriet Bedell, James Theodore Holly, Óscar Romero and The Martyrs of El Salvador, Tikhon, Vida Dutton Scudder, and Frances Joseph Gaudet, proposed by the 75th General Convention and approved for trial use (Resolution 2006–A063), be now finally approved and entered in the Calendar of the Church Year (BCP, p. 15-30) and in future revisions of Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints.
This resolution would, in effect, create a few more Episcopal "saints." It should be emphasized that saints no longer mean the same thing to the Episcopalians that they do to theologically serious Christian churches. Essentially Episcopal "saints" can be anyone, Episcopal or not, that someone happens to admire.
Vida Dutton Scudder was the sort of radical leftist "Christian" who could effortlessly forget that "Prince of Peace" stuff if the right people killed the right people for the right reasons. One site describes her thus:
At an early period in her life she was strongly attracted to the Fabians, preaching a kind of gradual "permeation" of socialist ideas and practices within the existing society. Later, under the impetus her own experiences in the labor and settlement house movements, she was to move considerably to the left, "taking out her red card" in the Socialist Party and refusing to shrink from the possible necessity of violent revolution if God's will were to be done on earth, as in heaven. In Socialism and Character she describes herself as "a class-conscious, revolutionary socialist, if you will," and adds "The word socialism, moreover, glows to the writer, not with the delicate rose-pink so pleasantly popular, but with a deep uncompromising red. Be it remembered nevertheless that the hue of blood and flame is the hue for the Feast Days of 'the Lord and Giver of Life,' the Spirit of Pentecost."
In her biography On Journey, she remarked that Stalinist Russia didn't bother her too much.
The task to be achieved seems to me more and more tremendous. The 'gradualism' of a New Deal, so absurdly dubbed socialistic, saddens me more than it cheers. I am tired of hacking at the branch on which I sit; we must destroy the roots of that poisonous Upas Tree, the Profit System, and plant the Tree of Life - - if only we can find its seeds. Has either fascism or communism found them? Between the two, I choose communism. My delight in the vast Russian experiment never wavers, for I do think the seeds of economic life are in its keeping. Nor am I unduly troubled by the atheism over there. I suspect the fresh start they have made is a relief to the Living God, for as Milton says, a man can be 'a heretic in the truth.' and His Name, instead of being hallowed, is all too easily affixed to a dead idol . . . I am too desirous of seeing our conventional religion at home consumed in fiery judgment to worry over atheist Russia.
What then about the alliance of Christian radicals with secular revolutionary forces? Shall we form a United Front? Here is a burning issue, and I am all for alliance. Advanced religious thought is now fairly unanimous in denouncing the capitalist order, and such denunciation no longer interests me. Sometimes I think we religious folk move backward; I hear us repeating the patter about patience we used fifty years ago. Yet fifty years count, even in perspective; I observe that the Lord Himself sometimes hastens the tempo, and I think the hour for Christian social action has struck. Am I then told that the Church should then play a lone hand, retiring into the interior whence she may some day emerge bearing an adequate Christian sociology? Nay, I can not leave my house empty lest seven devils should come in; impartiality today is impossible, and I find mandates sufficiently clear in the Sermon on the Mount. Shall I refuse to cooperate because communism aims at mere material ends? This isn't true, as scrutiny of cultural activities in Russia makes plain; moreover, in the newer Marxism spiritual values return and freedom wins recognition once more. True, Christian thinking can never rest in regarding 'God' as 'the dialectic of history.' but must always see Him Alpha and Omega, the Source of the universe no less than a slowly manifest force, cumulative as the aeons pass. But we all agree that present economic conditions inhibit the spirit of man; why not join with those seeking for release, even if ends, the goal of communist effort, are to the Christian only provisional, and means? It will not help communism to further vision, to encounter a hostile or indifferent Church refusing to join its terrific task of clearing the upward way.
So Vida Dutton Scudder was quite the modern Episcopalian then, using religious terminology to advance a purely political agenda. But according to an author named Lillian Faderman(p. 114-116), Vida Dutton Scudder was something else.
How seriously one takes that charge depends on how seriously one takes Faderman's research. After all, as we have seen, homosexuals have a tendency to posthumously recruit people into their ranks who might have otherwise shrunk from describing themselves that way while they were alive.
But if it's true, the Episcopal Organization will, in a few more months, "beatify" its first openly-homosexual "saint." And while the fact that Gene Robinson will one day make that list as well is, as they say, a stone-cold lock, I guess it will suck for Robbie to learn that he won't be the first of his recreational persuasion.