Why nobody seems to care about the consecration of Mary Glasspool

Sunday, May 16, 2010 • 4:38 am

That the Episcopal Church–an evaporating pond already overstocked with committed Muslims, witches and wizards, Sufi dancers, labyrinths, cosmic techno masses, Buddhists, John Spong, Marcus Borg, John Chane, and, yes, many people who engage in sex acts with members of the same sex–tosses an episcopal lesbian into the stagnating water just isn’t news.


Revisionist bloggers and some in the mainstream press are atwitter over the lack of interest in yesterday’s consecration. They seem to think that this signals some kind of breakthrough–that consecrating a non-celibate lesbian is the new normal. Here’s Susan Russell:

But what a difference seven years makes. Then there were police lines and bomb threats and CNN trucks with live satellite coverage of our every move as we gathered at a New Hampshire hockey rink to make Gene Robinson a Bishop in the Church of God. Today’s press conference drew a handful of church media and a local reporter or two and the only lines we needed to cross were the ones in the hotel cocktail lounge.

She’s certainly correct in her factual observations. That the Episcopal Church consecrated Mary Glasspool is much less interesting and not nearly as headline grabbing as Gene Robinson’s consecration seven years ago is obvious. I just don’t think the lack of interest points to or even hints at any sort of broad societal tectonic shift.

That the Episcopal Church–an evaporating pond already overstocked with committed Muslims, witches and wizards, Sufi dancers, labyrinths, cosmic techno masses, Buddhists, John Spong, Marcus Borg, John Chane, and, yes, many people who engage in sex acts with members of the same sex–tosses an episcopal lesbian into the stagnating water just isn’t news. Its sadly obvious that they desperately wanted the attention. They rented an auditorium that seats tens of thousands of people. They were preparing for a vast media presence. You get the sense that they really wanted to recreate that old magic civil rights breaking the barriers feeling–that rush of exhilaration: “Look at me world! I’m a brave revolutionary! I am defending the downtrodden, upholding the outcast, including the excluded!” They wanted the crowds. They wanted the coverage. “Everybody look! Here we are, an historic church. And look what we are doing. We’re consecrating a lesbian! Isn’t that grand? Aren’t we the embodiment of all that the masses long for?”

How disappointing it must have been when no one took much notice. I am reminded of this section from Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice”:

Leaning with one arm on the handrail, he contemplated both the idle people who were mooching at the pier to witness the ship’s departure and his fellow passengers. Those of the second class were crouching on the foredeck, using boxes and bundles as seats. A group of young people formed the company of the first deck, apparently tradesman’s apprentices from Pola who had merrily united for a trip to Italy. They made a lot of fuss about themselves and their enterprise, chattered, laughed, contentedly enjoyed their own gesticulating and mocked those colleagues, who, portfolios tucked under their arms, were walking along the street to pursue their business and who made threatening gestures to the departing. One in a bright yellow, excessively fashionable summer suit, red tie, and a boldly bent up panama hat, exceeded all the others with his shrill voice and gayness. No sooner had Aschenbach set eyes on him than he realized with a kind of terror that this ephebe was false. He was ancient, there could be no doubt about it. Wrinkles surrounded his mouth and eyes. The meek crimson of his cheeks was makeup, that brown hair below the colorfully-banded straw hat was a wig, his neck was dilapidated and sinewy, his moustache was dyed, his yellowish and complete set of teeth which he laughingly presented was a cheap counterfeit, and his hands with signet rings on both index fingers were that of a very old man.With a shudder Aschenbach looked at him and his communion with his friends. Did they not know or notice that he was elderly, that he was wrongfully appropriating their garish dress, fraudulently played one of theirs?As if nothing had happened, seemingly out of habit, they tolerated him among themselves, treated him as an equal, answered his teasing nudges without disgust. How could that be?

That is the Episcopal Church, a decaying body in bright yellow, tilted hat, and makeup making as big a ruckus as possible, pimping for attention. It is very sad I suppose. But predictable.

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