The epiScope’s whole Left/Center/Right thing and some discussion at Canterbury Trail and general things around this corner of the web have me thinking again.
M and I were having a conversation about this the other night and I finally vocalized some things that have been rolling around in my head for a while. Some people are against labels. I’m not, particularly, since I think there a helpful way of categorizing the world as long as you recognize and remember their limitations. For the purposes of political debate and influence in discussions about things that matter, they have a particular function—they concentrate opinion and signal a distinct outlook.
I’m looking again for a label that has a bit of precision to it.
What do you call something…:
- That breathes deeply of the spirit of monasticism, especially that of John Cassian and Benedict, but is for people who live in the world?
- That both upholds critical reasoning under the principle that all truth is God’s truth and also the Traditions of the Church—recognizing both the gifts and benefits of modernism and postmodernism as well as their problems and dangers?
- That is not a branch of the Christian Historical Society seeking to transpose worship practices of some other time and place into this century but rather believes that some of the best ways of proclaiming the Gospel in this time and place can be found in the resources of the past?
- That believes deeply in the Sacraments and the Mass and therefore recognizes the importance of the institutional church and the place of priests but balances that with the Offices, a liturgical path of living that needs neither priests nor institutions (indeed—Benedict was suspicious of allowing priests into monasteries in the first place…)?
- That sees the joint liturgical paths of Mass and Offices as places of awe, holiness, and mystery where the Living God is most fully encountered and form our minds and habits in the Mind of Christ?
- That furthers this journey into a disciplined way of being that, in the search for the Kingdom, seeks to cultivate virtue and suppress vice within ourselves and sees the cultivation of justice and compassion in the world as part of God’s plan?
I’m conflicted… I’d like to call it “Episcopal” but I don’t find these elements affirmed and upheld by all sorts of Episcopalians. The way that M and I practice it, it looks like, lives like, and shades into Anglo-Catholicism. But the difference I detect is a privileging of the monastic and contemplative ways and a Stoic philosophical base rather than the Scholasticism and Aristolelianism that so often grounds the former. This comes to a head, of course, in what I see as the Scholastic focus on mechanism, the how of the divine mysteries, which leads to a calcification of what I believe to be accidentals into essentials—i.e., God is incapable of conveying sacramental grace through beings who lack penises…
My first thought, and the one that M favored, was “Benedictine Anglicanism” but that has some problems since I, we, are not nor are we seeking to be Benedictine monks as the name might imply (becoming an oblate is a different story, of course)—nor are we all Anglican. LutherPunk fits these criteria and I dare say Andy, Lee, and others may as well who are not themselves Anglicans.
A much less specific term might be “Regular Christian” in the sense of a regula or rule but it neither captures it all and is also a bit too subtle, I think.
I like a term that Young Fogey has used on occasion, “Mass and Office catholic,” as I think that captures much of it—but I don’t know much about the origin of the term. I think it implies a way of life that these liturgies form but it certainly doesn’t require it.
I don’t know; I’m open to suggestions…