Most of us are familiar with the Boiling Frog Analogy: If you put a frog in boiling water, it will leap right out of the pot. If, on the other hand, you put the frog in warm water and gradually turn up the heat bit by bit, it will first be lulled into a cozy stupor, and then boiled alive before it catches on.
Having never tried this with anything other than lobsters, clams, and mussels, I don't know if this story is true, but it does illustrate how even the most radical change, when introduced in increments, can lull us into a sense that all is well -- until it's too late.
Incrementalism has long been the strategy of Episcopal Church authorities in lulling the laity with warm-and-fuzzy rhetoric while radically changing our Church right under our noses.
However, most Episcopalians are considerably brighter than amphibians, and more than half have briskly exited the Crock Pot since the revisionists first turned up the heat. After all, after being inundated with politically-correct hogwash all week long in the school and workplace, why listen to it in church, too, where we go to commune with God?
Episcopalians who were here for the "Green Book" in the late 1960s will remember that Sunday morning we first saw it in the pews. Accustomed to worshipping with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, we asked our priest at coffee hour, "What is this?!"
"Oh," our priest smoothly assured us, "If we don't like it we can always go back to the 'old' Prayer Book." He reached behind his back and turned the stove top burner to "Low."
Again, we were lulled when more revisions were introduced, a little at a time so as not to alarm us. Some of us, having better things to do on a Sunday morning, jumped out of the episcopal pot.
But the mass exodus from the Episcopal Church didn't start until the 1979 book was introduced. If you look at a graph of Church attendance from the 1960s to 2008, you'll see an abrupt drop-off after introduction of the 1979. When a group from ETF met with then-Presiding Bishop Griswold several years ago, he kept emphasizing that church numbers are way down because of "demographic" factors. Church leaders are still repeating this and other lame excuses for driving away their brothers and sisters. Don't believe it for a minute.
The incrementalism has continued, and the pot is at now at a rolling boil. The Church's emboldened revisionists are busily creating rites for same-gender "marriage," funerals for animals, and ceremonies surrounding abortion.
Church leaders are now stewing in their own juice as they reluctantly reveal the new, dismal Church membership figures. The latest official announcement by the Church says that average Sunday attendance stood at 2.4 million in 2008. Interested observers put the number at much less; one former Episcopalian who has been keeping track since the early 1980s sets the number at 1.1 million.)
No matter whose calculator you use, it isn't difficult to see that church attendance has tumbled since the first radicalized liturgy, the 1979 Prayer Book, was introduced. The exodus has continued throughout subsequent incremental changes, each of which has turned up the heat just a bit higher.