Friar John's Ruminations

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Episcopal "Reform of the Reform"

"The Episcopal Church is passing through a watershed era. I believe that as the Baby Boomers begin to fade out and Generations X and Y begin asserting our voices, yet more changes remain on the horizon. As these changes are coupled with the growth of information technology, emerging/evolving soical media, and widespread social changes, I think we’re only at the start of a larger, more complicated, more convoluted process than we may suspect."

Read the rest, here.

There are several things in this that I find to be very interesting. The first is the continued statement that those of us who come after the post WWII generation are different and have different needs and desires. One of the key things is that we have lost is any sense of history. We have stopped training clergy in many of our seminaries to be pastoral theologians and educators and turned them into a kind of Spiritual social worker. With the more heavy duty academic work also went an ability to be grounded in the continutity of the Church as a whole. The sloppy things that come out of clergies mouths should be a source of scandal for the Church. A generation of sloppy, amateurish theology and history from the pulpit is combined with a massive amount of bad "scholarship" about the History and life of the Church (Marcus Borg and his hip, yuppie Jesus for the new millennium being chief among them, but Pagels and her amazingly elastic Gnosticism comes in a close second) to make a messy situation.
Some of this is simply an inability of post-modernism to actually construct anything lasting or meaningful. The other part of this is that the post WWII generation tended to be disinterested in building in the Church as much as they were intent on destroying. Diogenies Allen said once that the birthright of the Church had been stolen and destroyed. Part of this destruction is so that those who came after could not return to the past to look for ideas. Rather, the past as drawn by the well meaning, but misguided, intermediate is all that is there, and this image is so incomplete that it is useless. Some of this is a function of a general disdain for History in general, and a substitution for "these are my thoughts on the subject" and a collection of caricatures designed to make the reader feel better about themselves.
What we need is a solid reclamation of our heritage and an insistence upon it as a starting point.

1 comment:

Hoosierpalian said...

In April, Bishop Rabb spoke at the plenary session of the Diocese of Maryland's Christian formation event. He said that adults as well as children should be getting a solid hour of Christian formation per week, and that Biblical ignorance was an abomination. He said that as Episcopalians we need to know three things, and know them extremely well: the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and our Anglican tradition. Bishop Rabb is not of Generations X/Y, but what he said impressed me greatly. Our lives are marked by such constant change, that when we get to church on Sunday, we seek the ancient, the tried and true. We spend our weeks in such a torrent of information that we crave a space where we can turn it all off and contemplate the mystery of Almighty God.
So, helping to steer the Episcopal Church back toward the Bible, the prayer book, and Anglican tradition would not be such a bad undertaking for our post-Boomer generations.
You and I have a rector and a deacon who do, but we can all ask our clergy to reorient their homiletical energies toward the preaching of the Gospel and the exhortation of the faithful to carry out the Gospel. And if we happen to get some smells, bells, and chant along the way, more's the better.