Anglicans Online banner More about the gryphon
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 250,000 readers More than 30,000 links Updated every Sunday
Will you help support
Anglicans Online?

The Paypal logotype

Noted This Week
Sites new to AO

News Centre
News archive

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
About our logo

Our search engine

Hallo again to all.

Not long ago we we had the privilege of being in California's 'Silicon Valley', a place that feels far-away and mystical to some and feels like home to others. Whatever might be your opinion about this place and its people, you must admit that its effect on technology and society, and probably even on you, has been tremendous. Engineering and technical innovation takes place all over the world; Silicon Valley does not have a monopoly on anything.

A Silicon Valley billboard
A roadside sign in California's Silicon Valley
Yet there is something unique about the place. Where else would you see a highway billboard like the one to the right?

A highlight of our recent time there was being present at an 'office party' held by the design and engineering team of an important company. These kids (not a one of them was over 30) had created a thing that we guarantee you are aware of, and they were there to relax, happy and proud. Every last one of them was a world-class expert at something, and working together they had really accomplished something.

We were fascinated to listen to them talk not about their job skills but about their lives. They were happy, kind, caring people who worked for this company because they really wanted to help make the world a better place, and they believed that such a job was their best shot at that. We saw in them no greed, no quest for power and glory. As employees of that company they knew they would never become famous, because the company doesn't give public credit to individuals for group work. But they didn't care, because fame and fortune weren't among their goals.

As the evening passed, their conversation began to turn towards the spiritual. There was among them no common religious background; some were raised Muslim, some Christian, some Buddhist, some Hindu, some Jewish, and some had been raised with no particular religion, their parents not atheists but apathists. The person who had invited us to this party knew we were lifelong Anglicans, but that fact never came out. We were at least twice their age, and were thus more or less invisible.

Every one of them seemed to have strong feelings about organized religion, mostly negative. A few of them eventually admitted that they were 'members of a church' but really did not want to talk about it. We were reminded of the comment made by Amy McCreath in her brilliant short note about her struggles as the Episcopal Chaplain at MIT:

'And because the public face of Christianity during the lifetimes of most of today’s students has been largely strident and self-righteous, the students who do affiliate with our ministry are reticent to come out as Christians on campus because of what their friends would (wrongly) assume about them.'

Reflect on that observation: during their lifetimes, the public face of Christianity has been largely strident and self-righteous. Why, yes, it certainly has been, and mostly still is. We realized that we were reluctant in that company to proclaim our faith. We knew that as soon as we spoke, most of them would immediately classify us as ignorant, foolish, and narrow-minded. And we knew that we would not have enough time with them to show them that this was not true. They were all smart enough and sufficiently open-minded to let us demonstrate that, even though we were believing Anglican Christians, we were not bigots or fools. There just wouldn't be enough time for that.

The conversation turned to Fred Phelps and various parodies of his message, such as 'God Hates Figs' or 'God Hates Flags'. They were wise enough to recognize that Phelps is a sociopath and not a saint or a genuine Christian. We were relieved to note that their dismissal of organized religion as foolishness did not put us into the same category as Phelps.

A ruined churchWe had terrible edge-of-night mares: was the future fate of Christian churches to be the home of bigotry and foolishness, leaving others (disdainful of us) to feed the sick and clothe the naked? If Francis of Assisi were alive today, would he join a modern church or would he say private prayers and spend his energy on good works? We note that Heifer International, a US-based group famous for doing and funding good works around the world, no longer identifies itself as a Christian organization and rather dances around that subject in its publicity material. Presumably they believe that they can no longer be as effective in their mission if potential donors think of them as Christian.

It gives us pause. As we write this, the sun is setting in our time zone, and there is always a certain amount of gloom when the light fades. Is all of our public bickering over who is an Anglican and who is not, who is a heretic and who is not, who is a sinner and who is not, ultimately going to eliminate all interest in the answer?

We're Christians. We're Anglicans. We're traditionalists. We're slightly embarrassed at our unwillingness to sacrifice our reputation in that group of strangers by admitting it. But we think that we now understand why, so we've forgiven ourselves and we believe that God has forgiven us. There's no confession of sin during Easter-season liturgy, so we'll have to wait for Pentecost to confess this.

See you next week. Wondering whether any of those young people knows what Pentecost is.

?" Our signature
All of us at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 18 April 2010

A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2010 Society of Archbishop Justus
. Please address all spam to