Friar John's Ruminations

Being the thoughts of an Episcopalian Layman. In Search of and service to "Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order."

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Solemn rite or happy meal?

How we treat Holy Communion reflects our theology of Christ
By Douglas LeBlanc, December 09, 2008

News Item, October 21: The Diocese of Sydney's General Synod has voted again to allow laity to preside at celebrations of Holy Communion and to allow deacons (both men and women) to preside as well.

My reaction, once news of the synod's decision began circulating in U.S.--based weblogs: Wake me when the argument is over.

I have exaggerated my lack of outrage, but not outrageously. My longtime friend and colleague Terry Mattingly grew up Southern Baptist, spent more than 10 years as an Episcopalian and then became Eastern Orthodox.

He enjoys telling the story of attending Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, where robed choir members processed with reverence down the center aisle and some bowed before sitting in their pews.

Terry asked about the significance of the bowing, and the answer he heard was remarkable: That's what you're supposed to do. Despite its stained-glass windows and the liturgical calendar it observed, this church had no concept of a Communion host being the body of Christ, in some form, and therefore worthy of brief reverence by choir members.

From that experience, Terry concluded that if a Southern Baptist congregation had a higher-than-average interest in liturgical symbols, its members likely had little understanding of the doctrine behind the symbols.

I wonder if, for many Episcopalians, this could be an accurate summary of what we understand about Holy Communion.

Consider how many priests now announce, week after week, that because the Holy Table belongs to God and not to anyone else, all people -- regardless of whether they are baptized -- are welcome to partake. I note only in passing the chutzpah of presuming that God's will for the Holy Table was thwarted, rather than honored, as far back as the Didache.
Read the rest here

Lay presidency is a non-starter for me. I think it shows a lack of understanding of what the Church is and what ministry is as well, but I don’t think it’s anything but an aberration born less of theology and more of a deeply born anti-intellectualism and resentment towards clergy.

Communicating the unbaptized, on the other hand, drives me nuts. I think that the writer is spot on that it is a misunderstanding of what the Eucharist is, and isn’t. It is the feast of the Church, and membership in the Church is achieved in Baptism. The normative text here is, I think, the story of Peter when he unilaterally baptized gentiles. He didn’t say “Well now the Spirit has come on you, so you’re now Christians.” Rather he baptized them (Acts 10:48). That would indicate to me a normative practice. We also place such an emphasis upon the Rite of Baptism in the Prayer Book, to then say that it isn’t all that important because you can be a member of the Eucharistic assembly with out it is a tad backwards.

And no, I don’t see the typical Evangelical slippery slope argument in here. What I do see is a legitimate criticism of two things that the author sees as connected. We have no real theology of the Church left to us if we now toss out Baptism in favor of some vague “come one come all” argument. There is a difference between saying “this is a bad idea and has implications of though and practice which are unacceptable” and the full on fallacy form of reductio ad absurdum that is the “slippery slope.” If he had gone onto say that this could lead to everybody might as well stay home on Sunday and become atheists I’d be rolling my eyes and trying to separate the issues he presents from one another. I’d say he’s being quite on target as it where for his points, with out going to far afield.

Tip of the hat to the Rev. Mthr. Kaeton.


Fred Preuss said...

People resent clergy because they claim to know what no sane human being can possibly know-and then have the gall to demand respect, privileges and money into the bargain.
It's really not a tough question to answer.

Frair John said...

Thank you for proving the point of anti-intellectual and general resentment of differentiation.

Your statement about knowledge indicates that you don't hold much in the concept of revelation, or the analogica fides, or are you arguing for some democratized agnosticism?

Fred Preuss said...

Sir, frankly, I doubt that you could do half the math that I do, and we certainly don't want to start comparing the relative education levels of agnostics/atheist scientists with the folks looking for Mary on tortillas, so please leave the "you're anti-intellectual card" at home; frankly, in a battle of wits, it's the believers who are usually unarmed.
You are absolutely correct; revelations are delusional, either self-delusional or corrupt "give me money and do what I say because I've been hearing voices" delusional.
I don't have to look far for democratized agnosticism, in fact, it's getting gratifyingly easier to find all the time. We're up to 1/6th of the population in the US and we're the fastest growing segment of the population.
Enjoy gathering with your 2.2 million (and shrinking), median age 59, one to one-point-five children WASPS and WASP wannabes while you still can.

Frair John said...

My my, you are the hateful little troll aren't you?

I went looking around for your name casually and found that you seem to relish wandering around the internet picking fights.

As for your math ability: I tend to find that it is the Math Wizards who are incapable of much else who tend to be the most anti-intellectual. Anything that wanders to far from their tidy little world of numbers is automatically written off.

Here is a bottom line for you:

I'm disinterested in your nasty opinions. I can only assume your consistent negativity against WASPs (BTW- I'm Irish - at best you could get is WIP) is ether self loathing or resentment - or both. Form the examples I've seen of your internet presence you are utterly uninterested in creating anything, no positive or creative ideas ever seem to be forth coming. I do suppose that the calculus of destruction is simpler in on the internet than truly originally creative activity.

Go an peddle your noxious, destructive, disrespectful self someplace else.

Fred Preuss said...

Not a single counter-fact presented.
But I'm guessing that, what with 'revelations', you don't need either evidence or new information.
Typical godboy.

Frair John said...

Apparently, you missed it when I gave you the invitation to the world.
There are no "facts" here for discussion. You started with a comment as to your mathematical ability, to which I did respond. You then made a series of unsubstantiated comments and opinions, the content of which I wrote off as specious and calculated to anger. I also pointed out that you have no other goal than to pick fights and be nasty.

You now respond with a direct attack.

I'll be more explicit:

You and, your fatuous, nonconstructive argumentation are not welcome here. Go and hawk your dubious wears where they seem to like letting people vent bile.