I’ve been reading with interest the Rev. Ben Jeffries’ Is the Eucharistology of the Anglican Reformation Patristic? As those of you who follow this blog and Positive Infinity know, this is of special interest, as it was to the great Bossuet…
Within American Christianity, and especially within American evangelicalism, we have seen a rise of interest in liturgy. Taking a quick look at InterVarsity Press’s site, one finds recent titles such as The Liturgy of Creation, Liturgy of the Ordinary, and The Liturgy of Politics. At Conciliar Post, Wesley Walker has compiled a list of articles such as “#OccupyWallStreet: A Liturgy” and “The Quiet Liturgy of Fred Rogers.” These are just a few examples; the word ‘liturgy’ is everywhere, often in unexpected places…
Those of us in the Anglican tradition, with our emphasis on common prayer and right liturgy, could be encouraged by this renewed emphasis on things liturgical — but, I believe, there are reasons we should be skeptical of the liturgical turn.
Traditionally, it’s been hard to get Episcopalians fired up about much of anything. The whole point of the religion was to leave the enthusiasm for “them” and have a nice, proper religion where we worshipped “Gawd” on Sunday according to the Prayer Book.
The culture wars, starting in the 1960’s, changed all of that. Some Episcopalians got fired up when V.G. Robinson was made a bishop. Others (like KJS, although she’s a ringer from the RCC) got fired up when the first group tried to leave with property.
Now we’re facing COVID-19. One of the infallible nostrums for this disease is the use of hand sanitizer, most of which contain alcohol. This alone should generate enthusiasm amongst clergy and laity alike; as my second year Latin teacher (a fine Episcopal minister) noted in class, when four Whiskeypalians get together, there’s always a fifth.
And that leads me to my point; when your Episcopalian friend or relative (or those who are in the ACNA, REC or one of the “Continuing” churches) balks at the use of hand sanitizer, instead of, say, telling them that it has 70% alcohol, just tell them it’s 140 proof. They’ll slather it on with gusto after that.
I must confess that, after my upbringing, when told about the alcohol content, I made the mental conversion to proof. There are more things than liturgy and “smells and bells” which are “continuing” in the Anglican/Episcopal world, and I guess this is one of them. (This is another.)
A favourite psalm of many is Psalm 91. Everyone likes this part:
Praise of a Song, by David. He that dwells in the help of the Highest, shall sojourn under the shelter of the God of heaven. He shall say to the Lord, Thou art my helper and my refuge: my God; I will hope in him. For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunters, from every troublesome matter. He shall overshadow thee with his shoulders, and thou shalt trust under his wings: his truth shall cover thee with a shield. Thou shalt not be afraid of terror by night; nor of the arrow flying by day; nor of the evil thing that walks in darkness; nor of calamity, and the evil spirit at noon-day. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. (Psalms 91:1-7 Brenton)
It’s a favorite these days, and was one in the wake of 9/11 (and in the military during the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. But there’s a part that most people are unaware of, and that’s this post’s subject.
Let’s go down towards the end of the psalm:
For he shall give his angels charge concerning thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up on their hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Psalms 91:11-12 Brenton)
If this looks familiar, it should. We like to quote this psalm, but during the temptation in the wilderness so did Satan:
Then the Devil took him to the Holy City, and, placing him on the parapet of the temple, said to him: “If you are God’s Son, throw yourself down, for Scripture says- -‘He will give his angels commands about thee, And on their hands they will upbear thee, Lest ever thou shouldst strike thy foot against a stone.'” “Scripture also says,” answered Jesus, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'” (Matthew 4:5-7 TCNT)
As it turns out this was the beginning of the conflict between Christ and Satan while Our Lord was on this earth.
During the passion, crucifixion and death of Our Lord, it certainly looked like Jesus should have taken Satan up on his bargain. It’s for sure that Satan thought so. But Satan’s apparent victory evaporated when Jesus Christ rose from the dead and won for us eternal life.
God has promised to protect us. Sometimes, however, the road to victory and ultimate protection has some “bumps” in it, but that doesn’t mean that all is lost. If Our Lord had to go through what he did, what can we expect?
No, the more you share the sufferings of the Christ, the more may you rejoice, that, when the time comes for the manifestation of his Glory, you may rejoice and exult. (1 Peter 4:13 TCNT)
The Church of England is on its knees, and not in a good way. Before the pandemic, physical congregations were already sparse, and getting sparser: in 2019, estimates put the average Sunday service attendance at just 27 people. When Covid-19 reached these shores, the Anglican leadership responded by closing churches even for private prayer, and they’ve issued barely a squeak for months on end. No one knows whether physical congregations will ever recover.
A new survey shows that the majority of Americans no longer believe that Jesus is the path to salvation and instead believe that being a good person is sufficient.
As part of the ongoing release of the Arizona Christian University-based Cultural Research Center’s American Worldview Inventory, the latest findings — exploring perceptions of sin and salvation — from George Barna, the group’s director, show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that having some kind of faith is more important than the particular faith with which someone aligns…
E&M EMLP-005 (1966)
This album comes from the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was done by the Episcopal Young Churchmen under the direction of the Rev. Edgar E. Shippey. As the name implies, the album’s inspiration came from their retreats in the Arkansas mountains, with musical arrangement assisted by James A. Pence, Jr.
Chronologically it comes between Gere and Williams’ Winds of God and the beginning of the epic God Unlimited albums under Tom Belt. That’s a nice place to put it too; it goes “beyond” some of the Episcopal formality of the first but doesn’t quite hit the folk “spark” of the early efforts of the second. It has some narration, which was de rigeur at the time (and would also appear in albums by Ian Mitchell and Sister Germaine) although some of them are readings set against the songs rather than explanatory material. It has some interesting selections. The song “Turn Around” is secular and had been featured on Kodak’s ads a few years before. “Were You There” was a staple for albums like this in part because it was one of the few spirituals Episcopalians were familiar with (it was in the 1940 Hymnal, #80). There are some other interesting songs and a couple of Hebrew ones as well.
It’s a nice album, well done, better technically and in muscianship than most of its Roman Catholic contemporaries, doubtless reflecting both a stronger musical training and better budget. The group went on to achieve some fame, performing at the National Cathedral in Washington after this album was produced. Things were starting to move very quickly in the world of Christian folk music, and this album was very much in the middle of that.
The songs and recitations (with performers):
- Introduction (The Rev. Edgar E. Shippey)
- Hana Ava Babanot (James A. Pence, Jr., and Craig Wells)
- Reading (Jennifer Brewer)
- Mary Had a One Son (Sylvia Hawley)
- Turn Around (The Retreat Singers)
- Reading (Jennifer Brewer)
- Reading (Paul Thornton)
- The Battle Hymn (The Retreat Singers)
- Readings (James A. Pence, Jr., and Paul Thornton)
- Hallowed be Thy Name (Beth Saunders)
- Jesus Loves Me (The Retreat Singers)
- Reading (Paul Thornton)
- Reading (Craig Wells)
- Look Ye Jerusalem (The Retreat Singers)
- Reading (Ida Vaughan)
- In Remembrance of Me (The Retreat Singers)
- Were You There (The Retreat Singers)
- Reading (James A. Pence, Jr.)
- O Lamb of God (The Retreat Singers)
- Reading (Paul Thornton)
- My Master (Sylvia Hawley)
- Song of the Resurrection (Sylvia Hawley)
- Reading (Richard Boles)
- Avodim Hoyinu (The Retreat Singers)
Produced by Earl Fox and John Hannon
Recorded at E&M Studios, Little Rock, Arkansas
Recording Engineer: John P. Hannon
Anglicans are often proud of the central place of scripture in prayer book worship, especially the lectionaries, those scheduled scripture readings for the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer and the Eucharist. Certainly, it is true that a widening diversity of calendars and lectionaries across the Anglican world are limiting claims about uniformity of…
Celebrated a 1928 BCP said (and social-distanced) mass using an antique chaplain portable altar.
This interesting exchange between Danté Stewart and the well-known Episcopal theologian Fleming Rutledge appeared in my Twitter feed:
It’s not a simple subject to unpack but it’s not as hard to understand as Rutledge thinks it is.
First, no matter how you try to make it happen the New Testament doesn’t really advocate changing, let alone overthrowing, the existing social order. As John McKenzie pointed out in The Power and the Wisdom, “…if any image represents the encounter of Church and state, it is the image of Jesus before Pilate.” Although it’s a stretch to say that the Roman Empire ruled for so long bereft of the consent of the governed, it’s also true that it did not have the “democratic” means to effect change in a peaceful fashion the way we take for granted. Those democratic institutions–imperiled by our current political situation–are a necessary prerequisites for the kind of change that is generally advocated by the SJW’s. The New Testament moved in a world where such change was effected by armed revolt, as the Jews disastrously tried two score after Our Lord’s death and resurrection. That’s still true in many parts of the world today.
Second, when white Southern evangelicals had much less education than they do now, they pushed through some pretty populistic, anti-moneyed establishment things which we, with our venal political system, would struggle to replicate today. I discuss that in my piece on Elizabeth Warren (a product of that culture) and won’t repeat that analysis here. A major reason why Southern Evangelicals have gotten away from this or any other “social gospel” is that they’ve shifted to a more aspirational mode of life, and if there’s anything people on the left hate, it’s being aspirational.
Third, there’s always the natural enmity of the secular left to Christianity, one that goes back to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. That’s one which is hard to get away from no matter how Christians view the situation. I discuss some of that in a European context in my review of Daniel-Rops’ A Fight for God.
My last point, however, is that the difference between what parts of the Bible Evangelicals and others are fed in church. Evangelical pastors can pick and choose the parts of the Scripture they want to for their sermons, and they know their audiences better than most of us care to admit. Growing up as an Episcopalian, I was presented (esp. in the Sundays after Trinity) with some pretty challenging stuff, as I document in my pieces on ordinary time and my “return” to my home church, Bethesda-by-the-Sea. That will raise your consciousness on what the Gospel really means when lived out as our Founder intended it to be lived.
The problem with that consciousness raising, at least for me, is that it became soon apparent that the Episcopal Church, with its elevated demographics (and largely white ones too) was inherently unsuited to be the engine of social change. So I took my leave. There is no substitute for personal action. At this point it’s nice to point out literature to people, but really, if you can’t manage to sell all or shut up, the least you can do is quit your job.