CHURCH IN FRENZY by William V. Rauscher


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Violence in the pulpit, pandemonium in the sanctuary, adultery--or worse--in the parsonage, beastly Fundamentalists, priestly Marxists, crazy cultists, evangelizing hucksters, ordained lesbians--dear Lord, where will it end? Thus the Reverend Canon Rauscher, a moderately conservative and extremely dismayed Episcopal rector from Woodbury, N.J., catalogues the excesses of contemporary American Christianity in a vigorous, readable, but basically shallow book. Rauscher has evidently been keeping a file on ecclesiastical shenanigans for some time, because he has an immense repertoire of stories, some of which have a certain piquancy. There was, for one, the go-go wedding (in an unnamed ""non-mainline church"") where the bride wore white pasties and a white G-string. And then during the 1970 general convention of Rauscher's own Episcopal Church there was the antic Eucharist where the clergy consecrated bottles of cold duck, and the congregation chatted, smoked, and did a snake dance to the tune of ""Let the Sunshine In."" Rauscher splutters in righteous indignation over such follies, but neither his impressionistic picture of the Church's ills (in lieu of hard sociological analysis) nor his simplistic solutions (respect authority, worship with dignity, bring back the 1928 Book of Common Prayer) carry much weight. Among other things, Rauscher continually treats the Church as an atomistic unit, as if its various crises could be understood or resolved apart from their secular cultural context. Eventually, he puts aside his laundry list and engages in a more serious kind of discussion, most notably in his commentary on Roland Tapp's projection of the Church in the year 2000; but it's too little and too late. Undistinguished.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1980
Publisher: St. Martin's