Winking Episcopalians

Recent travels have delayed this posting, but the headlines coming out of the Episcopal Church’s annual U.S. convention were stunning — endorsement of cross-dressing clergy, blessing same-sex marriage, the sale of their headquarters since they can’t afford to maintain it.

Read more: HERE.

Reminded me of this old blog post (some links broken) from 2006 …

Disseive, ME — One of the first things you notice upon entering the Church of St Judas the Wonderwinker is how similar it looks to most other Orthodox Churches. That is, until closer inspection …

The icon of the Mystical Supper above the holy doors looks just like others you may have seen. However, where Judas is usually portrayed reaching across the table to dip some food, here we see Jesus reaching out and shaking Judas’s hand. If you look closely you will notice that the two buddies are winking at each other.

The same is true of the large iconic depiction of the Crucifixion; there stands a male and a female figure beneath the Cross but, rather than St John the Divine and Jesus’s mother, it’s Judas and Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene looks enraptured and, of course, Jesus and Judas are winking.

The pews of St Judas the Wonderwinker are full to capacity on this bright spring day. The priest, Miriam Knott, whose patron is Mary Magdalene, first bishop of the Resurrection, has pastored the church since its founding in 2004. “Many claim that our fame and phenominal growth is due to Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code, and other recent discoveries,” she said. “However, I like to think that it’s all about the truth. Finally, after all these centuries, the ancient light of the truth has dawned upon us. People are hungry for the truth and here at St Judas, that’s what we’re all about.”

It is the belief of the church that, since Mary Magdalene was the first bishop of the Resurrection, only women should be ordained. However, Pastor Miriam’s ordination to the priesthood was not without controversy. See, she used to be a man. “That’s right,” she says, “I used to live my life trapped in the guise of a man.” She’s quick to add, “But God had other plans.”

“Besides, body = bad, spirit = good.

[I had to note that while I was interviewing the Priestess, she kept batting one eye. When I asked her … er, him … uh, whatever, if there was something in his/her eye, she (you know who I’m talking about) said: “Why do you seek the speck in my eye when you’ve got a big log in your own?” Then, or so it seemed, she winked at me.]

The Liturgy at St Judas the Wonderwinker is a mish-mash of the Byzantine and Western Rites, along with a dash or two of Anglicanism and some cherished contemporary pagan rituals. During the exchange of the Peace the members greet each other with the words, “The Peace of Judas” and a wink. When I asked about the more common “Kiss of Peace,” they reacted with horror. [I later learned that since the former Scriptures portrayed Judas and kissing in a bad way, this was frowned upon.]

Most Gospel readings are taken from non-Orthodox (or, Orthodox, depending on your position) sources such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and other so-called “Lost Books” of the Bible.

On this day, Mother Miriam blessed the Reader to read the Lesson from the book of Genesis. When I asked “you know who” why there was only an Old Testament reading appointed for that day, YKW explained, “There’s been so many lies about God and truth — from the very beginning of Creation — that we must begin at the beginning in educating God’s people.

“The Reading is from Genesis:”

Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

“The Word of the Lord.”

And the people responded, “Thanks be to God.”

[I must say, dear reader, that I was baffled by this shortened version of the Old Testament passage. Yet, when I asked about it, I was told that so many things had been added to the Scriptures over the years — by scribes with agendas — that the struggle toward truth requires constant vigilance and careful editing.]

Since the parish is obviously concerned about the authentic and ancient truth, I asked what role modern scholarship and current science played in the life of St Judas. “Oh, you ask an important question,” YKW replied. “We are constantly finding out, through science and scholarship, the truth. New revelations are manifest daily!”

When I asked by what authority the parish made such claims, I was told that they are completely led by the spirit. “Yet,” Knott added, “not all scholarship is reliable. Some goes up in smoke.”

All in all, I must confess, all that winking made me uncomfortable. But, the faithful of St Judas the Wonderwinker assured me that it is an ancient gesture which signifies the Enlightened ones.

I forgot to ask if their Bible included this scripture: Proverbs 6:12 – 19.

Makes you wonder. Wink, wink.

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