The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) meeting is over now I’m home, and am beginning to be at the point to write about it. I find these meetings tiring, exciting, invigorating, and depressing—all at the same time… Everybody on the commission feels deeply about the importance of good liturgy and good music. We just frequently have differing opinions about what those are and how we go about nurturing them in the church.
The discussion of my proposal on HWHM occurred on Monday morning. There were some clear agreements around the table—most people didn’t like the word “almanac” finding it too old-fashioned. That didn’t bother me, I certainly wasn’t wedded to it. At a deeper level, though, most of the discussion was about theology even if the theology wasn’t overtly discussed or referenced. One person said that the proposal simply didn’t make sense; others saw it as an attempt to completely dismantle what had been accomplished in HWHM. I didn’t see it that way at all. What did become clear was that we had several different—some irreconcilable—understandings of sanctity and holiness. And, in arriving at that point, I think we accurately mirror one of the confusions in our church and one of the reasons why HWHM has been such a difficult body of work to complete satisfactorily.
I believe we did reach an agreement that will move the discussion forward in a new direction. In my previous post I said that I hoped to have certainty and specifics by this point; I don’t. We do have the basics of an agreement. However, there are a number of details to decide if it is to be workable and the last set was worked out in subcommittee work after the close of the meeting and has not yet been agreed to by the whole Standing Commission. Because this will represent a rather radical change, we have agreed not to discuss it until we have agreed on the principles and the main points lest an incomplete telling of an incomplete solution be misunderstood and blown out of proportion.
Trust me—it’s frustrating not being able to say more. However, it’s for the good of the work as a whole. I will, of course, say more when I can.
Can you say anything more about the different views of sanctity and holiness?
‘most people didn’t like the word “almanac” finding it too old-fashioned.’
Something that has continually frustrated me about certain of the powers. For some of us, “old-fashioned” might rather be expressed as “clear, and not-dated.” :-|
Keep on keeping on, my friend. You’re doing the good work.
Oh Derek—I hope you can hold up, my friend. You are at SCLM as a representative for hundreds of us—as a voice for hundreds of us—as a promoter and initiator for hundreds of us. For most of us, you are the only influence we have in those halls of power—and we treasure you beyond words. Non illegitimi carborundum!
Thanks for the update, D. – and for all your great work.
May I amend the above for the record? I otherwise agree completely, but it should read “You are at SCLM as a representative for thousands of us”, etc. And it could as well be tens or hundreds of thousands. The number of faithful Anglicans, clergy and lay, who have difficulty with the “holiness drift” toward honouring anyone and everyone who was good/first/diligent at something is far more than numbered in the hundreds. They might not all read this blog, but they long for a Church that centres on giving one’s life to Christ, not on civic duty/art/science/etc. done well.
Incidentally, your work doesn’t stop at the border. I’m writing from the Anglican Church of Canada, ever watchful for the twitches and moves of the elephant beside us (blame Trudeau for the metaphor) and many of us here are leery of the general direction that the first iteration of HWHM indicates. Whither ECUSA, thither ACoC, all too often.
Many of us here and undoubtabely there, by the way, are under the age of forty and perfectly happy with the word “almanac” and a host of other “old fashioned” things. In fact, the hardest hard-core traditionalists I know are under thirty, and the people trying to change the theology (and liturgy) of the Church mostly fifty or sixty plus.
I support the idea that every “first” is not worthy of commemoration or is an act of sanctification in and of itself as a matter of hagiography for the national church. While firsts are appropriate content for an almanac not every first is a pointing to the sacred Christian or not, nor in all cases and for all persons a worthy exemplar.
I agree with Aaron+ that “almanac” is not old fashioned term or tool – several are sitting on my desk (and desktop) and are used regularly to plant, tend, and harvest gardens which feed myself and my family….
For a person to be worthy of hagiography (it seems to me) the subject needs to recall the reader (of an icon or a collect) to the continuing work of God in the world and serve as a window through which God’s Light is seen in retrospect. The subject of a hagiography needs to be an exemplar and a spur to continuing growth into the Kingdom of God…..
Perhaps we need a hagiography which honestly recognizes “personal” saints, “parish” saints, “diocesan” saints, “denominational” saints, Church saints….and while we are at it, may I put in a plea for the Orthodox style of commemoration: prefacing the name with a title which explains why the person is commemorated? Evangelist David Pendleton Oakhater (better, O-kuh-ha-tuh, Missionary to the Cheyenne?), Servant-Teacher Florence Nightingale, etc.
I may choose to annually venerate a particular person for various reasons (e.g. family member, a teacher, a writer, someone Christian or not, who is deceased) who continues to point me to God and Christ in my living – and perhaps a small liturgy based on the Jewish Yahrzeit custom would be appropriate (especially as the custom came into Judaism from German Christians in the 4th Century as I recall). A home shrine wouldn’t be out of place…and good for a full homely practice of our faith….
In addition to the Feast of Name a parish might consider formally venerating a person or event of the parish (local Christian martyrs, evangelists, and teachers) chosen by the Vestry and membership with the Ecclesiastical Authority’s prior approval. Use of one of the BCP’s collect formulae, selection of meaningful hymns or anthems, and display of an icon or other visual reminder of the commemorated might be appropriate.
A Diocesan saint might include the founding bishop and those folks no longer with us who are exemplars spreading and affirming the Episcopalian faith throughout the Diocese…martyrs, evangelists, and teachers…
The National Church selection of saints should consequently be very small, require a minimum number of years since their death, be approved at three successive GCs, and have a written commitment from a super-majority of serving Diocesans and Standing Committees that the
saint’s commemoration will be faithfully honored each year with a feast, teaching, special liturgy, etc.
In aid of such an approach I would support stripping out many of the optional days of commemoration from the Church calendar and let parishes and dioceses insert those days in their calendars as appropriate. I appreciate that there are many folks who take pride that their representative is currently in the calendar; I ask if others do not choose to honor that person for various reasons, shall we force that upon them in the spirit of Christ?
Thank you, Derek, for all your hard work on this project. I wonder if those pushing HWHM in its current form the strongest come from parishes that faithfully observe the daily office and daily Eucharist. I doubt it. My intuition is that HWHM backers would rarely actually observe HWHM in its intended setting, while those most disappointed with HWHM will be left to bear the observances on behalf everyone else.