Voices from Russia

Monday, 2 November 2009

Biff and Muffy Revisited

Filed under: domestic life,intellectual,social life and customs,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Salisbury CT library

The public library in Salisbury CT… we motored past this yesterday… doesn’t it look oh-so-Episcopalian?

Yesterday, we took a lovely motor east through Columbia County south of Albany to Connecticut and returned home via the Berkshires in eastern Massachusetts. It’s mid-autumn now, the leaves have changed already and they’re past their peak… indeed, there is a thick carpet of them on the ground and those left on the trees are either withered or muted and rusty in colour. We’re on the verge of what we Russians call “wounded autumn”… that time of year when all the leaves have fallen to the ground, the trees are bare, the grass is sere, but, the snow hasn’t fallen yet. The earth seems to expect the coming winter. To me, that’s the saddest time of the year. Winter has its own splendour… a snow-covered landscape has its charms. Spring is the upsurge of new life yet again. Summer is life coming to full flower. Early autumn is the harvest and the brilliant and radiant colours of the trees. “Wounded autumn” is sad… the earth is looking forward to its “rest” in winter, to prepare for yet another cycle of life, but, it’s the “deadest” time of the year.

We drove on 199 towards 44… That was a fairly blah drive. It had no particular scenery, there were only a few farms, and there was no settlement of size. However, when we got into north-western Connecticut on 44, it changed. It became what I call “Episcopalian country”. Of course, I am speaking sociologically, in this case. Not all Episkies are “Episcopalian”… and not all “Episcopalians” are Episkies. Indeed, some “Episcopalians” are other flavours of Protestant (but, NEVER Baptist, Pentecostalist, or American Cultist (Mormon, JW, etc)… no matter how much money they may have), a few are Russian Orthodox… like the Sikorskys (First-Wavers only, no other Orthodox are let in, though), and some old-line RC Irish and Germans (none others need apply). There are no non-Christians in the lot… there are no Jews, to be specific. This is not anti-Jewish; it is only states what I have observed in fact. It is why there are “Jewish” and “Episcopalian” country clubs in Westchester County… the two do NOT mix… William Jefferson Clinton belongs to a club of the former set, not the latter, interesting, no?

It is easy to spot Episcopalian Country. There are absolutely pristine “farms” with immaculate lawns with picture-postcard-perfect white or black wooden fencing with horses in the field (and one can see nary a cow or goat or chicken… we even saw a burro… Nicky thought it belonged to a “climber”, he thought that “real Episcopalians” would keep their burros in Texas or Mexico… I agreed with a hearty laugh). Actual working farmers have wire fences, there is a purposeful jumble on the property, and, trust me, there are few (if any) horses, and there are certainly no burros! One sees “adorable” little inns and “quaint” B&Bs… there are pretentious gold-picked signs everywhere, usually over an affected little “gift (or antiques) shoppe” or “boutique”… the restaurants have nauseatingly cute names and one wonders what euphemism on their menu alludes to a hamburger (“chopped steak” was popular at one time)… if they even offer one. It is the playground of the highest social class and set in the US (if you think that the US is a classless society, do think again… if you persist in such a notion, I shan’t argue with you… fools are best left alone, for there is no convincing them with reasonable argument).

Some predict the end of Episcopalianism and Episcopalians. THAT is fatuous and vacuous. The highest social class in America is not going to disappear. Ergo, the church that embodies such is not going to die out. True, the nature of that church may change… it may transmute itself for the sake of sheer survival. Nevertheless, Episcopalianism as a distinct faith is not going to perish, and “Episcopalians” as a social set are not going to fade away (indeed, the latter’s persistence shall be a main prop of the continued existence of the former). I know Episcopalian people and I can assure you that this group is not going to fade away, either in the short-term or in the longer future (don’t believe the criticisms of malcontents who left this organisation… in many cases, they are trying to explain their exit).

Let’s be frank… the so-called dispute amongst Episcopalians is not new… it has gone on since the first ordination of women to the clergy in 1978. Some left then, some left with the first female bishop, others left after V. Gene Robinson’s installation. There’s not that many “conservatives” left in TEC (reflect on the fact that Nashotah House remains in TEC… interesting, no?)! There are more in the C of E, but, that is because it is the “church by law established”… many have hung on for the sake of a living, to speak frankly. There aren’t that many left for poachers to pick off the flock… most of those who remain in it AGREE with the present direction of the confession… and the ones that do not (and are still within both TEC and the C of E) are relatively few. They are not from the highest reaches of the group, either organisationally or socially (one finds few disgruntled sorts at St Bart’s…).

Therefore, I believe that the predictions of an imminent demise for TEC are premature. I would remind all that when the TEC caught a treasurer embezzling church funds, they turned her over to the authorities, she stood trial, and served some eighteen months in a New York State slammer (plus probation, I believe). THAT is a healthy group’s reaction. Hmm… some of you can guess what I’m thinking… I’ll leave it as a hint for the gang in Syosset. To think that some believe that Biff and Muffy are going to worship with the unwashed plebs… silly rabbit! If it hasn’t happened in the past, it’s not going to happen in future, either.

Northwestern Connecticut was the playground of Episcopalians a century ago… it shall still be such a century from now… no matter what some think. There’s life in that thar ol’ dawg, yet… don’t count ‘em out!

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 2 November 2009

Albany NY


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