A Winner Apostate

Lauren Winner, author of the wildly popular Girl Meets God, has penned a piece on apostasy at Slate.com that’s worth reading: Apostasy Now {HT: Alan Jacobs}. She makes the thoughtful observation that squishy, liberal churches don’t have a concept of apostasy. If you leave the religion of a mainline denomination you are not considered an apostate; you just left, nothing more. She observes that more strictly defined religious communities thus have a practice of recognising the apostate. What she infers from this is interesting, that such groups are likely better at being a community than those with loose boundaries. She cites the recent case of Paul Haggis, whose leaving of Scientology has made him the world’s most famous apostate.

Winner is a Christian in the episcopal mainline, but she used to be a practicing Jew, here she is reflecting on her own apostasy:

Though I do not like to think of myself as such, I am technically an apostate, having long ago given up the Judaism of my childhood for the Episcopal Church. We do not readily associate the latter religion with shunning, and I must admit I feel envious, in some small way, of those groups in the American religious landscape that do call out their members. It is not the apostasy per se I envy, but the necessary preconditions: robust community; distinctive practices; and, indeed, some social consequences for leaving the faith. So while I appreciate that my church makes room for patchwork, for doubt, for moving in and out, some days I think: Would that America’s Protestant mainline could produce an apostate. For one might say that a group that lacks the necessary preconditions for making apostates can’t make disciples either.

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Filed under apostasy, essays

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