The Roman Promise: Not only are you switching to a more reliable provider, you get to keep your own phone number.

So here it is: John Stewart show on the Roman Catholic Apostolic Constitution making it possible for communities of Anglicans to join the RCC with benefits. A nice laugh, but as usual with some digs into the truth of the matter. It ends with John Oliver saying this line, "Not only are you switching to a more reliable provider, you get to keep your own phone number." Take a look. (Sorry about the ads, but its the only way to get the clip.)

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The RCC has not been a more reliable provider in years. On one level the whole point of the Reformation was the increasingly unreliable instrument that was the RCC. Now, five hundred years later it is still a valid critique to say that the institutional crud that accompanies an imperial religious order is so great as to make the institution very unreliable as an instrument of religious or moral persuasion.

As for the purpose of the church, the skit rightly pokes fun at the notion that what the church is good for is to be the instrument for contact between mortals and God. The notion that Anglicans who become Roman Catholic might be able to keep their own phone numbers is wonderful! But of course the whole thing collapse if the Church is not a telephone instrument and our prayers are not the calling code. If the church is the body of Christ there is no "instrumentality" involved. In Christ we become linked directly to God's mission and the Church structures and work becomes our collective expression in response to God, in the world, reconciling the world to God's self.

As to the number business, I believe it is of very little importance that our calling code be kept on by people who otherwise have left the Anglican context. We ought to think of our "phone number" as a matter of habit for us, we like what we have always done. But I think we ought not consider our "number" as something especially dear to God or to others. And just so we are clear... after a while those Anglicans who "go over" will end up using the RCC Number.

Still, all in all its great to see we made the Stewart News. At least they understood what is going on.


  1. I understand why so many of our children's contemporaries get most of their news from The Daily Show.
    Reducing the Church to a provider of contact with God is absurd. We are a missionary body. As the saying goes, the Church doesn't have a mission; God's mission has the Church.

  2. "the Church is not a telephone instrument and our prayers are not the calling code"

    Actually, this video might change your mind.


  3. Indeed! The Daily Show and The Colbert Report hardly ever talk about religious matters in an uniformed manner, in the way most media does.

    Perhaps because they can see the potential for humor, they have a better angle on the truth of the matter.

  4. I find it amusing because I've been involved in the teeth-grinding processes of trying to explain to my parish that growth is good, but using 1990s business and advertising practices is not only the quickest way to turn off my generation, but is also pretty much contrary to the methods used by Jesus.

    The skit of the telemarketer call is terrifyingly close to a script proposed by a member of our Growth Committee.

  5. Mark, I have a question. Say the local episcopal church down the street moves to Rome because that is where their priest is telling them thats the place to be. Lets even suppose they manage to keep the building in that move. Now after several years the priest decides it is time for him to move on. Now what happens to the people left? Do they get a Catholic priest assigned to them by their local bishop like all other parishes? I would hope they would think things out like this before they jump but alas I am afraid they won't.

  6. Henry VIII and Linsey Lohan. Must have missed that one in EFM. I guess you learn something every day.

  7. I looked at the video for which Lucymom posted the URL. Then I read the comments that were posted about it. Then I went to lie down with a cold compress on my head.

  8. Lucymom...the video didn't change my mind at all. I found WSJM's solution worked pretty well.

  9. Johnny Fisher27/10/09 6:00 PM

    .18% -- the relative size of "The" Episcopal Church to "The" Roman Catholic Church and declining at an ever increasing rate

    So forgive us if we're not too worried by your cute "reliable provider" and "table rights" talk.

    "The dog barks, but the Caravan moves on."

    Question, and I ask this in all honesty in a effort to inject some much-needed perspective into your "reflections", will the "The" Episcopal Church still exist when:
    1) The RCs allow gay marriage
    2) The RCs allow gay ordination
    3) Her Primatial Imperialness Katharine Jefferts Schori could even be ordained a deacon?

    Indeed, will Protestantism exist?

  10. If we are going to listen to telephone metaphors about calling heaven, I much prefer the incomparable Manhattan Transfer singing Operator.


  11. Wow, Johnny,

    If you're the kind of believer the RCC produces, then we won't have to worry about Christianity being around if the RCC is all that's left!

    Personally, I don't care what the RCC does - another decade or so and Benny da Bavarian will be dead and forgotten. Most of the clergy who've gone to the RCC will be deposed for disobedience or simply retired. Most of the laity who've gone will have moved to the next flavor.

    You see, you can be beaten, while I can't. If the RCC doesn't win, then Christianity doesn't win, right? Whereas, I figure, as long as there are decent people who - knowingly or unknowingly - try to emulate Christ - whatever their religion - then my faith is rewarded and Christ's Body continues.

  12. Thanks to Johnny Fisher for illustrating yet again - not that we needed the reminder - the bitterness that lies at the heart of the "reasserter" soul.

  13. Johnny Fisher28/10/09 1:42 PM

    Roshi Mark,

    You act as if I have said something out of bounds and then proceed to do the same in your second paragraph. Certainly, very soon Benny will be dead, I will be dead, you will be dead, we'll all be dead. Not at issue hear. What is at issue is that soon, TEC will also be dead and forgotten, thus making any TEC pejoratives about RCC, which have been a-flowin' here and elsewhere since the big announcement are at most only humorous, akin to mustard burp, momentarily tangy and then forgotten in the air, like TEC.

    Fortunately, you and I both perhaps may live to witness the answer to that ancient Zen koan "What is the sound of one Episcopalian clapping?"

    Glad to see you have such a comprehensive definition of "ekklesia" in Matt. 16:18. Ah yes, the mystical, anonymous Church goes on as long as someone, somewhere, anywhere, loves somebody. That kind of theology and $1.25 might get you a bus ticket. It's akin same kind of theological work that TEC has done around the LGBTQQIALMNOP issue which has gotten y'all into this mess.

  14. airedale - I doubt the Romans will try to take the silver and the buildings... they're closing many of their own and they have strong feelings about hierarchical Churches. And I suspect that for a time Bishop Duncan's brood will, like the Maronites for example, be allowed their parallel existence. But I think you're correct that eventually they WILL be assimilated, or move on.

    Johnny, the Romans allowed Gay Marriage in the 1400s and it's ordaining STRAIGHT Priests that would be the anomaly. Ask any recovering victim of that Church.

  15. Yes, but you're a guest here. Or do Catholic mothers not teach manners?

    I certainly haven't earned the title "roshi." If you had even a slight understanding of zen, you'd know that, though to someone with so little understanding of anything to do with God, I'm sure anything seems to be a master, to you.

    And I still can't be beaten, and you already have been - if you consider death out of bounds. I understand the closeness of my death better than you do.

    You are very amusing! Please, keep pretending to be a Christian. It makes us feel better about what we're doing as actual Christians.

  16. Oh, Wade!

    Johnny's not here to argue!

    God sent him, to reassure us we're doing the right thing! Look at how little he knows of his own faith, how little real connection to God! Surely, surely he's been sent here to show us our way is the right way.

    I mean, out of all the verses in the Bible, he pulls out the only one that even remotely addresses papal claims - and that's only directed at Peter! Whereas, I can reach - without looking - into the Gospel, where Jesus tells us to "call no man father." I can also recall that St. Paul was agreed to be sent to gentiles and St. Peter, et al, to the Jews. His faith is in one shaky, entirely human organization! Line upon line, precept upon precept.

    You see, congregationalists and orthodites look at scripture, RC's and Orthodox get told scripture, and we, like our Jewish predecessors, actually study scripture and make it Scripture.

  17. Johnny F.,

    Are you aware that the roots of the Reformation had nothing to do with the ordination of women and openly partnered gays, or gay marriage? and hat our Presiding Bishop does not have any type of "Imperial" powers, because our church is governed by a bi-cameral house composed of lay and ordained members?

    As to whether the Episcopal Church of the United States of America will survive, I expect it will for a long, long time. That gives you plenty of time to read up on 2,000+ years of Christian history, an interesting topic. You will not find an era where there was one, undivided Church with uniformity of dogma, doctrine and theology (so many heresies, so little time).

    Wow - you must really despise the Lutherans if you feel this way about Anglicans.

  18. I think the use of sales and marketing lingo in this satire is sadly spot on.

  19. Here's what I'll remember:

    Epting: Of course we say God bless you as you seek that place in your journey.

    Stewart: I believe that's Anglican for "Go f--- yourself."


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.