Back in 1984, a bronze sculpture of a crucified female Christ, called Christa, was thought inappropriate for New York's Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
The then Suffragan Bishop of New York, Walter Dennis, claimed that Christa was "theologically and historically indefensible" and the controversial bronze was removed from the cathedral. It upset too many people, back in 1984.
Now Christa's back up again, with the engaging bronze hanging above the altar of the Chapel of St. Savior in the Morningside cathedral. It seems opinion, like time itself, has moved on. Here's what the current Bishop of New York, Andrew Dietsche, has to say, in the New York Times, no less:
In an evolving, growing, learning church, we may be ready to see ‘Christa’ not only as a work of art but as an object of devotion, over our altar, with all of the challenges that may come with that for many visitors to the cathedral, or indeed, perhaps for all of us.
With all the challenges? How about this one, Jesus wasn't a woman. So who and what are you worshiping in that chapel, Dietsche? Hint, it's not Christ; in fact, it's not anyone at all. There never was a Christa who died on the Cross for the redemption of mankind, like it or leave it, and all the gender advocacy narrative of the Upper West Side can't create one.
|Cathedral of St. John the Divine|
But it can create an idolatrous blasphemy above an altar in what was once a Christian cathedral. Times have most certainly changed, but maybe not for the better.
As Jeff Walton reports for Juicy Ecumenism and the IRD, the Episcopal Diocese of New York has declined rather sharply over the last decade:
Between 2005 and 2015, the Episcopal Diocese of New York declined from 64,027 members to 53,353 members, a loss of 10,674 members (-17%). During the same time period, average Sunday attendance dropped from 21,723 in 2005 to 16,878 in 2015, a loss of 4,845 attendees (-22%). Baptisms in the diocese declined from 1,612 in 2005 to 904 in 2015 (-56%) and marriages performed decreased from 579 in 2005 to 290 in 2015 (-50%).
A 56% decrease in Baptisms and a 22% fall-off in worshiping attendance?
Go figure. Maybe Christa will help get those numbers back up again.
Don't hold your breath.