I had a nice evening out with a colleague of mine, a young Latin Americanist in my department. She turned out to be a southern Californian and, unsurprisingly, episcopalian by upbringing. We had a conversation about Episcopalianism not as a religion but as a community, a culture, a tradition, and yes, as a set of weird ticks shared by a paradoxically privileged yet discrete group of Americans. My colleague was very amused by my observations and she said, "I've never thought of it like that, but now my entire life makes sense!" It amuses me too, that so many of the cradle Episcopalians I have met never looked at themselves as an "ethnic group," precisely because they are so "liberal." Race theorists might well be right to say that being "white" and "privilege" somehow makes you "normal" and "colorless," namely, cultural diversity includes you being surrounded by other colors that are not white.
The truth is that Episcopalians, when scrutinized closely with an anthropological lens, betray all the signs of being a very distinct community, with a basis in Anglo-American culture. They usually drive beat-up cars (Toyotas or Suburus) and spend lots of money on wine. They have dog-eared books at home on anything from Hannah Arendt to Baudelaire to Franz Boas (Jackie, your copy of "Primitive Art" is on my shelf!), but they haven't read them for a long, long time. Many of them are very progressive but have a bizarre idealization of history, which distinguishes them from the European left-wing. They might not advocate return to pre-Revolutionary time, but they can't give up their grandparents' Queen Anne furniture even if they don't manage getting them re-upholstered. Many of them also don't consider "Jingle Bell" a proper Christmas song. They support women's liberation and the use of contraceptives, but are often closeted papists who get very excited about visiting St. Peter's and getting a glimpse of the pope. Nature and culture in their unadulterated form are what Episcopalians love: so they either have a cabin in the mountains, a cottage by the lake, or spend that money on family vacations in Europe. (Italy is top on the list - I suspect that it's thanks to English Romanticism, Ruskin, Keats, etc.) Little reproductions or actual Byzantine/orthodox icons may be spotted in their living rooms. Episcopalian men are often one of the rare species of American males who can be both very macho and love Titian. Episcopalian women are often very good at writing "Thank You" notes and organizing potlucks and auctions; they apply such skills to areas as diverse as art history departmental social hours and Hyde Park Jazz Society fundraising. Aesthetically, they are contradictory: their personal manners are very restrained, but they love the exaltation of the arabesque (look at the legs of their furniture). Politically, they are both Republicans and Democrats (which is why they're interesting). And, as pointed out by Gale a long time ago, their are united by having cocktail hour at 5pm, no matter what name they might grant to the occasion.
These are quirky observations but I think that Episcopalians should realize more that they are a kind of ethnic-religious group much like the Jews. This might permit them to be more self-aware as a large constituency of the American elite. They should be more courageous in promoting a socially responsible and culturally intelligent form of Christianity in the US, and dare I say, in the world. I find it insidious that Episcopalians are so powerful and discrete about their identity - the American Jews at least have a very visible role in public life due to their strong identity. The advantage of coming to terms with your religio-ethnic identity is that you can better see what your contribution to the world can be.