Monthly Archives: December 2014

Confusion and Dismay

For those who don’t know, my wife M is—in addition to being a gifted priest and a wonderful wife and mother—a dedicated athlete. She is a great distance runner; she beat her Boston Marathon qualifying time by over 20 minutes. In the last couple of seasons, she has been focusing on triathlons. She’s easing into them and has only done a few, but in those few has earned a spot in the age-group nationals coming up in Milwaukee.

I don’t worry about her so much when she goes out to run or swim. What concerns me is when she goes out to bike.

It’s dangerous to cycle here in the city. For the most part, she goes out to the surrounding areas where the roads are wider and there are fewer cars, but even out there it’s not terribly safe. There are a few areas where there are dedicated bike lanes on wider roads that offer cyclists a margin of safety—one being the wide roads in the Roland Park area of the city.

Despite precautions, there have been a number of cyclists hit in the Baltimore area by cars in the last year or so with very little repercussions on the part of the offending drivers, and the cycling/tri communities are very unhappy with the situation.

You can only imagine, therefore, how our household is responding to the news coming out about the suffragan bishop killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run accident. It’s been reported in the Living Church here and in the local press with more detail here.

No one around here knows the full story yet. We are torn between passions of justice and mercy.

One aspect of our calling as Christians is forgiveness, second chances, and clinging to the promise of the resurrection. Even when we believe that the story has ended—as on the first Good Friday—God may yet not be done with it.

Another aspect of our calling as Christians is about the process of transformation. Sin is a reality in life. We are called to lay it bare in confession—if only to ourselves—and to seek transformation into something different. Something better. Something that knows the truth, has made the decision to be aware of the truth, and is prepared to live that truth. In so doing, we demand justice on our behalf and on behalf of others. For justice and truth are deeply connected, frequently being two sides of the same coin.

For us in the Diocese of Maryland this story wan’t be going away anytime soon. I suspect there may be implications for the broader church as well.  There are questions opened up by this tragedy in several areas:

  • questions about the process for selecting bishops, about who knows what about candidates for bishop (M was at the electing convention—nothing was mentioned about candidates’ prior legal woes)
  • questions about the role and place of clergy (bishops included) as the leaders of communities of moral growth
  • questions about addiction and recovery in the church

For now we pray for all involved. And tomorrow we go to a vigil ride for the slain cyclist; clergy have been asked to wear their collars.

Devotional Apps

So—apropos of nothing…

What do you look for in a devotional app?

When I say devotional app, I’m thinking of something like, say, the Forward Movement app for the iDevice prominently featured in my sidebar. It contains the Forward Day by Day devotional and it has the Episcopal Daily Office on it as well as some other stuff. I know Church Publishing has got an app out there as does the Church of England.

What’s your sense of these things? Have you used them? Do you like them? What do you like most? What really annoys you about them? What’s that one thing that would make it even better? More features or less features?

One Thing on TREC

The TREC report is out.

That sentence means something to a certain sort of Episcopalian. If you’re one of them, this is likely old news and you’ve probably already read it. If it doesn’t mean anything to you, you probably won’t care…

People who know far more about this kind of thing than I do are already writing reactions, chief among them being Crusty Old Dean; I’m waiting to hear thoughts from Susan Snook and Scott Gunn too.

One of the recommendations is that all of General Convention’s Standing Commissions should be swept away but two: the Standing Commission on Constitution & Canons and the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music.

They recommend “Renaming the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music ‘Theology, Liturgy, and Music’ to enhance its role in evaluating and developing proposals related to the core Episcopal identity and Church life in aspects of Anglican tradition, worship, and
Christian life.”

I must confess to having a few concerns here… I have, in the past, been quite critical of the work of the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music; I was punished for that by being appointed to it, and currently serve as Secretary as well as co-chair of the Calendar subcommittee and chair of the Digital Publications subcommittee.

One of the current issues is the status of the “music” part of the SCLM. There are already concerns that “music” is an afterthought in the current composition of the Commission. For instance, I can hold down a bass part in a choir pretty well, but that doesn’t make me a church musician by any stretch of the imagination. Too, I am one of the few advocates for “traditional” church music on the Commission. My fear is that adding “Theology” to the Commission’s title and purview will even further dilute musical representation on the Commission. If the “music” roles are headed by one or two people, then their perspectives—whether representative or not of what the church wants or needs—will be magnified in policy-making decisions.

Second, what will the selection criteria for the Commission look like going forward? Will the addition of “Theology” in the name mean a further shift in the composition and role of the Commission? Will we be looking for musicians, liturgists, sacramental theologians, dogmatic theologians, or people who are somehow all of the above? There are many gifted, well-trained, sacramental theologians who cannot be depended upon to draft a decent collect. There are skilled liturgists who would be clueless if directed to point the new EOW canticles for Anglican chant. Are too many roles being consolidated in one Commission?

Perhaps TREC’s idea is not necessarily to change anything about the Commission, only to underscore the relationship that liturgy and theology should have in the Episcopal Church. But look at what the SCLM has produced recently. How do we judge the theological content and implications of Holy Women, Holy Men and Daily Prayer For All Seasons? Have theological deliberations been done carefully and well here? I’d like to think that my subcommittee has been intentional in addressing and articulating issues of theology in the creation of “Great Cloud of Witnesses” (which you’ll get to take your potshots at when the Blue Book reports are made public), but there’s still quite a lot not said and not done here.

While I appreciate the weight placed on the Commission’s work, I find myself wondering if this is a good idea…

Original Pronunciation and the Prayer Book

On Sunday at church we sang “Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” As is often the case, I was struck by the couplets of the fourth verse:

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

The first two, “come/home” look good on paper but don’t rhyme in American mouths. Even worse is the second pair: “high/misery.” We have to conclude one of three things.

First, the twentieth century approach to classical hymnody being what it is, maybe somebody has fiddled with the words. Second, John Mason Neale didn’t know what he was doing and flubbed the rhyme. Third, there’s an entirely different way of pronouncing English from what your average Baltimore congregation sings, and this hymn assumes those sounds rather than what I was hearing.

In regard to the first, no—not this time. In regard to the second,  John Mason Neale won medals for his poetry at Cambridge and is one of the best translators of hymns of his day; incompetence is likely not the answer. That leaves us with the third and to the video presentation of the day… I ran across this a little bit ago and was greatly intrigued by it. It’s a short video on the Original Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s English. Clearly, this wasn’t the  tongue that Neale was writing in (as he was a couple of centuries later), but the mention of rhyme as a means for getting a feel of the language jumped to mind when we hit the fourth stanza yesterday.

What this does move me to consider is the pronunciation of the texts from the first English prayer books. What sort of rhymes and other forms of assonance do we miss because we read through it in our English rather than theirs? The same, of course, is true of the King James Bible of which we are told that Blessed Lancelot Andrewes and others read their work out loud to test the sound of it before making final decisions?

No point to make, just a shift in perception…

Breviary Updates

Holiday-based stress is in high gear; lots of extra rehearsals for the older daughter for Nutcracker which will simultaneously occur and finish over the weekend.

I need to start writing here more and will try and be more intentional about that… I think my chief problem is tat I keep trying to do huge topics which then never get finished to the degree I’d like. Perhaps shooting for bite-sized might work better…

The breviary was down a little bit at the beginning of the week. I had to do some surgery on some critical files and make sure the lectionary was functioning properly. That’s all in good working order now. I also solved the persistent problem around preferences and iDevices that had popped up since I added the RSV.

Additionally, I also put into place the first-fruits of collaboration with the Anglican Breviary project: the antiphons on the psalms are now “of the season.” Look for more fruits of collaboration as time becomes more available…

There were also a few cosmetic changes with the .css files. I continue to not be satisfied with the aesthetics of the breviary. I have a vision, but haven’t achieved it yet.