Future Pointers

AKMA is quite right as usual: technology is proceeding apace–we need to be informed about the change and be intentional about discovering both its promises and perils.

An example of how we can use these technologies is this site on liturgy and liturgical spirituality with a monastic bent from New Zealand. The Rev. Bosco Peters has put together a strong site with a growing number of resources. This is the kind of site that I think is at the forefront of what is emerging and is representative of what some have called “blog-level ecumenism”; looking it over I wasn’t immediately clear whether it was Anglican or Catholic or liturgical protestant—and that’s not a bad thing. In touch with the Tradition, liturgical, spiritual with a monastic grounding, yet engaged with contemporary realities for the sake of proclaiming the Gospel with power and integrity in our local times and places.

I’d include Full Homely Divinity in the same category…

22 thoughts on “Future Pointers

  1. The Anglican Scotist


    Should the church approach its use of high-tech and its participation in the emerging church movement critically?

    That is: How much high-tech “community building” ecclesial or otherwise moves superficially among the otherwise alienated bourgeoisie? “Superficially” implying it causally contributes to alienation while only prima facie overcoming it.

    Is it actually exclusive of socioeconomic groups whom the church is called to address directly as part of its being?

    Is economic and political exploitation a necessary condition of its propagation?

    It may be the church is inevitably taking–as it has in the past–a *potentially* self-defeating shape. Resistance would be futile,but that does not mean adoption can be uncritical.

  2. Derek the Ænglican


    As I read the data, the success of Web 2.0/3.0 is both a response and reaction to the traditional/Web 1.0 form of top-down control. What I see emerging isn’t at the control or behest of any ecclesial entity–it’s the people who are into it that are making it happen.

    I’m doing it.

    You’re doing it.

    Formal ecclesial structures can choose to participate but it’ll have to be on our terms or their projects won’t take off with us.

    The class considerations you raise aren’t, to my mind, something that need concern us yet. After all, most Americans have computer access but only a small fraction of them are currently involved in this kind of thing. Furthermore, what happens electronically is only a catalyst to enable things to happen materially. That is, if what is emerging isn’t changing people’s embodied lives, we’re all just wasting our time…

  3. Bosco Peters

    I think that Anglican Scotist makes a very healthy challenge that we need to keep in mind.

    The flip side of it is the cry I constantly hear of where are the young people in our churches? I do not need to trot out statistics to show that the land many young people inhabit is cyberspace and mission and ministry needs to go there and learn their language.

    It is a tragedy, when it is so easy now to set up a site, that so many church communities do not even have a site – and many whole denominations use the web so poorly.

    The web is to today what the printing press was to the Reformation.

    Give young people in the Christian community the mandate to construct the community’s site – they can do it for free. Provide pizza and drink for their meetings. It’s win, win, win.

    In Christ


  4. The Anglican Scotist

    OK–if what is emerging does not change people’s embodied lives, then we have a problem.

    And Yes: the web is to today what the printing press was to the Reformation.

    We agree: this is for better and for worse THE avenue of choice for the church if it is ever going to reach this generation of young folks. If the church does not find a way in this medium, it will not find a way for a long while.

    What can we do–now?

    e.g. diocesan web-cast ministries on college campuses, emanating homilies and hymns across the dorms, supported by evangelists on campus leading two kind of groups (1)seekers who are debating, questioning, and not all the way in; (2)eucharistic/baptismal groups glued by sacrament and some manner of office?

  5. The Anglican Scotist

    n.b I am mostly familiar with older, rather wealthy and relatively secluded Episcopalians–good folks and friends–but belonging to a certain class, at home in a certain ecclesial picture.

    We may need to become familiar with a strategy of Disjunction: buiding parallel structures for young people apart in praxis even if not on paper from those in effect already. That means giving God room in many cases to operate ex nihilo I fear.

    For instance–I’ve brought college friends in their 20s to Eucharists among age groups where they felt distinctly no operative overlap. Not a matter of being kind or mean, but of culture and “face”.

  6. Derek the Ænglican

    I’m not sure a diocesan web-cast is going to cut it…

    I’d rather see a core informal network of bloggers and facebook friends who get together when possible then help organize and lead the two activities you mention. It’s the cell model—if it’s worked for groups as disparate as John Wesley and Al-Qaida… The two-prong approach is a sound one, especially if they can be linked by some kind of regularly occurring Evening Prayer or Compline service.

  7. The Anglican Scotist

    Cells–that seems right; I think our ethos is well placed for that kind of thing. The theology we have developed is well prepared for both hard questioning and heartfelt devotion.

    But such community building needs to become imperative.

    Item: the Diocese of Central Florida has no presence to speak of at UCF, among 40000+ students. Yet it would be relatively easy to ignite a number of strong student cells. What gives? We are very much self-obsessed here at the moment.

  8. Derek the Ænglican

    No operative overlap—that just about sums up all of the Sunday School classes at my parish. I’m typically the youngest person by 20 years or so…

    Yes, parallel structures may be the way to proceed, but kept in parallel by common use of the prayer book… The fear I have of separate developments on and off campus is the old bait ‘n’ switch. The Anglicanism students encounter on campus should be firmly linked into what they encounter off campus. The difference should be neither a liturgical or doctrinal one but rather a different emphasis of the common material. I.e., the teaching and communication of doctrine and liturgy should be both general and broad but also tend towards perennial student questions on the meaning of life, etc.

  9. bls

    What about encourging several-times-weekly Communion? Sacramental churches aren’t ever going to be online because we need to go to church for Eucharist.

    That’s a good thing to do, not a bad thing. The Eucharist itself calls us out of virtual existence into face-to-face experience of other people. Otherwise we really could get along quite well, probably, by talking w/ each other online; these are some of the best conversations anywhere.

    But we’re always going to go to church and meet with other people because of the bread and wine and water.

    Crazy like a fox, that Jesus of Nazareth….

  10. bls

    (Anyway, probably church is always going to be retro. Which again might be a good thing, since somebody has to be.

    Why worry so much about the web? People are going to want and need to go someplace that isn’t at all in a hurry at some point, I’m pretty sure.)

  11. The Anglican Scotist

    Well, I think that is my calling in some measure. I have to talk with Bishop Howe.

    I’d foresee groups of dedicated Episcopalian converts much more militant than anyone I’ve seen in a parish. The hunger out here is just incredible and inarticulate; as it is, I end up
    sending majors–freshly up on Niebuhr, Hans Frei, Lindbeck and Aquinas–eagerly off to RTS and
    evangelical Methodist seminaries! It would be nice to have something a little more intentional.

  12. The Anglican Scotist

    Richard Niebuhr, of course; I have little patience with Reinhold’s “realism”.

  13. Derek the Ænglican

    Yes, bls, several-times weekly Eucharist is a good idea. It also requires dedicated clergy and I don’t know what the chaplaincy situation is there.

    I mentioned Offices in particular because of the evangelism direction—they can be led by (well-trained) students and the whole CWOB issue doesn’t come up…

    My ethics prof with whom I took many courses in undergrad was a big Reinhold fan…

  14. bls

    No, we have to encourage this in the parishes, I mean. I really don’t see any way for formation to happen without this kind of reinforcement; it can’t be once-weekly, which is what it is in most places now.

    And yes, the Offices, too, of course; Evening Prayer followed by Eucharist, for instance. And the Offices alone – but the problem is that people don’t get attached in any way now. The Eucharist does that like nothing else.

    The problem is once these kids get on-campus; the problem is in the parishes today, IMO. People that are strongly formed do not fall away.

  15. bls

    (Sorry, meant to write that “the problem is NOT once these kids get on-campus,” but before that.

    Listen, I know this from personal experience. It was massively easy for me to leave the church and not go back for 35 years; I had no attachment at all.)

  16. bls

    The last generation spent its entire life arguing that people have no need of religion – that it’s a hoax, and mind-control, and the opiate of the people. Yet even Marx apparently called religion “the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions.”

    And for us, Eucharist is the heart of hearts. But parish churches are closed all week now, and the only thing that counts is Sunday. That goes for everybody, not just Episcopalians, of course – but we should know better.

  17. bls

    That’s why Catholics remain very attached to their Church, I think, and find it hard to leave.

    And you know, there’s really absolutely no reason why there couldn’t be a “Cultural Anglicanism” as there is a “Cutural Catholicism.” We live in a country that was in large part founded by Anglicans; it was the de facto national religion for a long time (the National Cathedral anyone?); English speakers are the majority in many countries in the world.

    I keep hearing it said that we’re a “boutique” church, and won’t ever be attractive to large numbers – but why not? We have a very sane approach to religion; we have the monastic offices still ingrained in us like nobody else has anymore; everybody knows the name “Episcopal” (or used to, anyway).

    Why aren’t we aiming to grow like crazy? There are 120 million people in the U.S. who don’t go to church today; there was an almost 100% decline in numbers of church-goers in the 1990s. Those people might find a church home with us – and they’re not all going to be mightily offended by the Book of Common Prayer, either.

    We need more religion, everybody, not less. And definitely more Eucharist.

  18. The Anglican Scotist

    Does that mean you are a Reinhold fan too?

    One way of putting it: if Yoder/Ellul and Reinhold were two ends of a Continuum, where would you feel most at home?

    Sure, either pole is respectable, but there remains an enormous difference.

  19. The Anglican Scotist

    You are quite right bls; the only reason I can think of for why we have not grown to the point where there is a cultural Anglicanism, say, is that we have not sincerely tried.

    Why is that? Here may be a deeper issue.

    What would TEC have to change about itself if it, say, doubled its ASA in five years largely from Xers and Yers?

  20. Derek the Ænglican

    I’d be on the Reinhold side of the spectrum; I’m more of a pragmatist. Too, both of the churches I’ve lived within—the Lutheran and Anglican—have at one time or another been state churches and state churches are forced to construct political ethics differently than sectarian groups—like Yoder’s. I’d agree with Reinhold—pacifism is a great idea if you’re only responsible for you. However, your Muslim neighbor should not suffer violence for your religious scruples when it comes to providing for national/community defense.

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