Friday, April 17, 2009

In an online world, all (church) politics is global

But the controversy has done more than jeopardize Thew Forrester's promotion and stoke already-high tensions in the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church. It also heralds a new era in church politics that mirrors mainstream culture, when online research and partisan tactics can combine to make or break a career, observers say.

"Thirty years ago, if a person was elected as bishop, it would be almost impossible for the church, broadly speaking, to see his sermons," said Bishop Edward Little of Northern Indiana. "I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but that's the way it is."

Little himself examined Thew Forrester's sermons after finding them online and decided -- regrettably, he said -- to vote against him.

"They indicate that there may have been some transformation of his Christianity as a result of his embrace of Buddhism," Little said. The Indiana bishop said members of his diocese have repeatedly asked him about Thew Forrester, even though the Michigan priest works in a small, out-of-the-way diocese. "Lots of people in the diocese troll the Internet and know the issues."

Thew Forrester maintains he is not a Buddhist, but has used the techniques of Zen meditation, which he has practiced for nearly a decade, to revive Christianity's own centuries-old contemplative customs.

"It seems to me we've lost the memory of the fullness of our tradition," he said in an interview. At the same time, "we must reform our faith, our liturgy and our polity so that we are ever more congruent with the divine will and the Gospel, and that is what we have done here," he said.

Read it all here-

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