Think fast—which do you trust more: A funeral director or a member of the clergy? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is, “Funeral director.” That’s pretty amazing, given that it wasn’t that many years ago that the FTC lowered the boom, with partial success, on the antics of the funeral industry. And it underscores another point: Respect for clergy has hit a historic low, and appears to be continuing to slide.
Of course, none of this comes as a surprise, given the clergy abuse scandals, and the stupid antics of self-aggrandizing clergy like Bob Malm, whose main goal in life appears to be to get as much adulation and recognition as he can, as much pay as he can, and as much time off as he can. Top dollar for minimum work.
And of course, lying in court and trying to drag a terminally ill elderly woman into court hasn’t helped much. Small wonder that folks are turning their backs on church, especially those, like The Episcopal Church, where clericalism is rampant, and where clergy often view it as your job to serve them.
Find the full story on the Gallup poll results here.
In psychology, there is the concept of the so-called “Dark Triad,” which comprises three personality disorders that are highly prevalent among clergy. The three often interlock, and some consider them to exist along a continuum. The traits are narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. All comprise a lack of empathy, superficial charm, manipulation, lack of remorse, an inability to accept responsibility for one’s actions, and more.
One of the things I have really seen throughout this conflict is how poorly trained Episcopal clergy are in conflict resolution, and how quick they are to resort to patronizing condescension — what I kiddingly refer to as the condescension of Christ.
While I have discussed the matter with relatively few clergy in the diocese of Virginia, the vast majority either resort to tired old saws about forgiveness that are not theologically sound, or dismissive BS about how I’m being hateful, etc.
But the reality is that Jesus had little use for clergy who saw themselves as better by virtue of their role as clergy. Nor do he shun people —including the “hateful,” such as tax collectors.
This faulty understanding of forgiveness, redemption and welcome, combined with lack of accountability and an unwillingness to tackle difficult issues, exists at all levels of The Episcopal Church. Some have rightly noted that this paradigm interferes with the church’s ability to address impairment, but the reality is it extends to challenges, problems, and conflict at every level of the denomination.
The Jesus I know is the Jesus of the radical welcome, the protestor against injustice, and the friend to the outcast. Most Episcopal clergy, however, know nothing of these things. Theirs is a fictitious Jesus: The Jesus of the prep school and the golf course.