Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Newt Swims Tiber

Erstwhile Speaker and perennial nuisance Newt Gingrich has converted to Roman Catholicism.

We are amused that he has recently complained of President Obama's "anti-Catholic values," since Gingrich has himself been married three times.  We do not know whether he will be allowed to receive the Eucharist in his new church, or whether he cares.  It has always been very difficult for us to figure out what Gingrich cares about, apart from the sound of his own voice.

But please note:  Were Newt a Lutheran, our friends at ALPB would be loudly bemoaning the way "all the best and brightest Lutherans are leaving for Rome," oh-woe-is-us.  We at the Egg have called bullshit on this myth repeatedly over the years -- the various emigres have been overwhelmingly from the AELC, which was born in schism, and their profiles have been high principally among themselves.  (Pelikan is the notable exception).

What both amuses and irritates us about the woe-is-us crowd is their vocal enthusiasm for Lutheranism as they wish it were, and their highly cultivated disdain for Lutheranism as it actually exists.  This is amusing when it is quixotic and irritating when it turns fratricidal.

Gingrich is now a former Baptist.  Those people are no strangers to internal disagreement, or even to near-fratricide.  But they are not, so far as we can tell, afflicted by this particular strain of self-doubt.  Do you really imagine that any Baptist publication will note Newt's defection, and pose an hyperbolic challenge to the effect of "Will the last Baptist turn off the lights on his way out?"

Of course not.  They'll do the reasonable thing:  shrug their shoulders, say "Huh," and go on being who they are.

6 comments:

Pastor Joelle said...

Since none of his various marriages were in the Catholic church, I think Gingrich is good to go when it comes to the Eucharist...

Oh and those people over at ALPB are your friends??

Bill Hurst said...

Father A -- I seem to remember a news story from the early 1990's that reported that Gingrich had attended a Lutheran church in PA in his youth, before heading south with his family. Understood from the story that his time with the Lutherans included catechism instruction. So I guess we've got a true Republican ecumenist in the making, as 2012 looms...

Bill Hurst said...

There's more: according to this link, he says he was raised in an LC-MS congregation...

http://www.theamericanview.com/index.php?id=591

mark said...

"Lutheranism as it actually exists" hmmm. Exists - where? Austria? Sweden? Africa? ELCA?
Interesting thought: since the ELCA is losing members faster than the LCMS, once the LCMS becomes the demographically dominant form of Lutheranism in the US, will that then constitute Lutheranism as it actually exists?
Or perhaps you meant the historic creeds, confessions and practices prior to the great American-African-Asian diaspora of our confession? ;-))

Father said...

Joelle -- Actually, many of them are my friends, and a few fairly close ones. It's a New York thing; we all work together. That said, I have many fewer friends these days than I once did.

Oh, Mark --you have entirely missed my point. Or perhaps you have simply missed the subtext of everything you've ever read in Lutheran Forum.

The ALPB mindset, and particularly the mindset of the AELC refugees, is just as hostile to Missouri as it is to the ELCA (and by extension, the LWF, which represents the bulk of world Lutheranism). In some ways more so. There IS, I grant you, a tendency to hold up one thing they like about the LCMS and say, in effect, "Why don't WE do it that way?" But on the whole, they are simply unsatisfied with any and every actually existing Lutheran church. And that sentence would be just as true if you removed the word "Lutheran."

Their choices are few. They can join one of the micro-churches ("Synod of Confessing Evangelical Adulterers," etc.), which isolates them, or they can continue to live in community with the rest of us, wishing we were different. A few do the first, most do the latter.

When I talk about their dream vision of "Lutheranism as they imagine it," I always think of a piece that appeared in one of the ALPB publications, maybe 12-15 years ago. I forget the details, but somebody was fantasizing about a movement to re-unite with Rome by creating a distinct rite, sort of a modern-day Augsburg Interim. It became a laundry list of things that could be "taken over" and things that would inevitably be "left behind." The fellow figured he could keep his liturgy, the first few articles of the Augsburg Confession, his wife (all possible) -- and the ordination of women.

I just laughed. We all have our fantasies of how the Church could be better. I just get frustrated when that turns into constant disparagement of the Church as it is.

Pastor Joelle said...

I'm so tired of the ELCA bashing by ELCA people. I feel beleaguered and as though I can't even be open about some criticisms I may have about the ELCA because it would be jumped on "AH HAH -that too - see it's corrupt - it's no good - it's terrible - even YOU agree!" It's like you may not be happy with your family but you aren't going to talk about it with people who are hostile to your family. What happens though when your own family has turned on itself?

Hmm this sounds like something I should address on my own blog...