RBOC: Vacation Edition

  • We’re on our yearly pilgrimage to the Shore.
  • It’s more fun hanging at the beach with the family than reading General Convention reports.
  • Nevertheless, I have popped over to the Cafe on occasion to see how things are going.
  • In other news… A friend of the blog sends a request that we look over the Niagra Rite. I have given it a quick glance and must say that I agree with his assessment: “. . . I believe their new liturgy is the absolute quintessence of everything that is wrong with liberal
    Anglican liturgics. It’s so supernally bad, abysmally written, and theologically horrifying that if I were a gay man in the Diocese of
    Niagara contemplating marriage, I might throw myself over the falls in despair. It’s no wonder that so many anti-inclusion Anglicans see
    inclusivity as the path by which the Anglican Churches will abandon their fidelity to the Creeds and to the theology of the Prayerbook.” In the glance that I gave it, the rite seemed horribly strained to avoid anything that might be considered an orthodox invocation of the Triune God and that just sets us up for all sorts of problems…
  • In happier news, I’ve received an email that there’s a group working to bring the Society of Catholic Priests to American shores. Here’s their emerging website. Essentially this looks like the sort of spiritual norms centered on the sacraments, Daily Office and spiritual formation that one finds in the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) but welcomes women (and thus men who support women clergy).
  • I was struck in the email, however, how focused it was for clergy. Yes, clergy need their own groups as most laity don’t understand the issues clergy face if you”re not one or don;t live with one. At the same time, I wouldn’t mind seeing a nice fraternity/sodality/fellowship that promotes a catholic sense of the sacraments, Daily Office and spiritual formation for laity…

21 thoughts on “RBOC: Vacation Edition

  1. Scott

    “I wouldn’t mind seeing a nice fraternity/sodality/fellowship that promotes a catholic sense of the sacraments, Daily Office and spiritual formation for laity.”

    Sign me up!

  2. BillyDinPVD

    The Niagra Rite: it confirms everything that I, as a gay man, fear about the tackiness of gay weddings. It is, as your correspondent noted, “supernally bad.”

    “a nice fraternity/sodality/fellowship that promotes a catholic sense of the sacraments, Daily Office and spiritual formation for laity…”: Have you considered something like the Associates of Holy Cross?

  3. ambly

    Anglicans have become like Romans in being so addicted to clericalism. The laity hardly seem to exist.

    I don’t even want to read the Niagara Rite (the very name reminds me of the Toronto Blessing) – why must it be that new rites cannot be firmly grounded in our tradition?!

  4. Lee

    Re: the Niagra Rite, when did people start referring to the NT as the “Greek Scriptures”? That’s a new one on me.

  5. BillyDinPVD

    It’s undoubtedly based in calling the OT, “The Hebrew Scriptures.” But using these names – especially “Greek Scriptures” – seems to betray an ignorance of the role or value of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, in the Church’s life and history.

    What’s more, it seems to be a matter of over-correcting. Probably the majority of Jews have objected to the term “Old Testament” as showing disrespect, because of connotations of inferiority in the word “old” (I think those concerns are unfounded, but not really my business). The accepted term in most Jewish quarters is “Hebrew Bible” or “Hebrew Scriptures.” But I’ve never heard any Jewish objections to the term “New Testament,” nor am I aware of any Jewish writer using the construction “Greek Scriptures” for the NT.

  6. Christopher

    It is as if we have learned nothing from the opportunities same-sex relationship bring to us to consider again marriage in light of God in Christ, a life of practice to virtues on model with monasticism, friendship, etc.–oh, and bad liturgical language to boot, which is the most egregious of sins for Anglicans, no?

  7. Lee

    I’ve often been confused about that: is the “Hebrew Bible” entirely a scholarly construct? I ask because the Tanakh appears to have a different ordering of the books; was the “Hebrew Bible” (i.e., the OT in the form and order as we (Protestants) have it) ever actually used as the religious scripture of Jewish people?

  8. Derek the Ænglican

    As far as I can tell, yes, “Greek Scriptures” is an attempt to be parallel to “Hebrew Scriptures” which is a term foisted on us by guilty academics. AFAIK, religious Jewish folk do indeed read the Tanakh. “Hebrew Scriptures” is, speaking linguistically, inaccurate as it omits the sections in Aramaic. Therefore “Hebrew” is being used as a cultural term which other scholars inform us leads to anti-Semitism.

    I use the term “Old Testament” not because I have any desire to offend (I don’t) but because as a confessionally Christian New Testament scholar, this term does describe how I engage that collection of books. I rarely use it in my technical writing, though, because of its imprecision. The New Testament authors didn’t refer to an “Old Testment” because there was no “New Testament”; they simply referred to “the Scriptures”.

    Marriage ceremonies can be hard, I think. It’s when we know that we’ll have a larger number of outsiders in than we normally do. As a result, many services (both gay and straight) seem to fall all over themselves to be “inclusive” and often a) betray their commitments in an attempt to not be offensive and b) in the attempt to not be offensive remove any sense of the Gospel that might actually attract rather then offend…

  9. rick allen

    “…is the “Hebrew Bible” entirely a scholarly construct?”

    No. The most common printed text of the Hebrew bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, takes its text from one of the oldest complete Hebrew bibles, called the Leningrad Codex. (Sort of ironic that poor Lenin’s name remains affixed to a biblical text even after the return of his city to “St. Petersburg”).

    My understanding is that the rabbinically recognized text is called the Massoretic Text, named for the late antique scholars who fixed it and provided the apparatus for “quality control” in connection with its transmission.

    In one respect “Hebrew Bible” is a misnomer, because a small part is of course in Aramaic–much of Daniel and a few other stray texts. “Hebrew Bible” is also something of a misnomer for at least the Catholic canon of the Old Testament, since many books of of what Protestants call the Apocrypha exist only in Greek texts (even if some appear to have Hebrew originals).

    “I ask because the Tanakh appears to have a different ordering of the books.”

    Our ordering of the Old Testament comes from the arrangement of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. If you have an old Jerusalem Bible there’s a side-by-side comparison of the contents of the two–though even that’s somewhat simplified, I’m sure, as I doubt that there was complete uniformity.

  10. BillyDinPVD

    In my experience, the phrases “Hebrew Bible” and “Hebrew Scriptures” are sometimes used by Jews as synonyms for “Tanakh,” especially when dealing with audiences that would find the Hebrew acronym exotic or unfamiliar (by no means something limited to non-Jews). And sometimes it’s used, by Jews and non-Jews, to mean the Old Testament as found in Christian Bibles, to avoid giving the impression that they believe it to have been superseded by the New Testament.

    While noting the differences in order between Jewish and Christian versions, most Jewish writers don’t seem to put much emphasis on those differences.

  11. ambly

    Am I missing something? There appears to be no Gospel reading suggested yet they include an acclamation. That following the list of Secular Readings makes me want to run screaming.

    The whole thing is pablum.

  12. BillyDinPVD

    Ambly, they list two selections from John among those in the “Greek Scriptures.” (The service itself is still pablum, though.)

  13. Erika

    What about First Testament & New Testament? I heard that once, and on first blush, I thought it was interesting. I agree that calling the OT the “Hebrew Scriptures” makes it seem that, as Christians, they are not our own (opening the door for all kinds of Marcionism, anti-Semitism, etc).

    I seem to remember Eugene Rogers offering a liturgy for marriage between two people of the same gender in _Sexuality and the Christian Body_, and, although it’s been years since I read the book and can’t promise I remember fully, I suspect it’s solidly grounded in orthodox Christian tradition and liturgy. Might be a model for the powers that be to pay attention to rather than…this Niagara thing…? (eew)

  14. brian m

    Why can’t same sex couples use the BCP rites with appropriate pronoun changes? Dr. Louie Crew has said on at least one forum that that is what he and his partner did in the 70s, using the 1928 BCP, no less.

  15. Tim Cravens

    In the Independent Catholic jurisdiction of which I am a part, we celebrate the marriages of same-sex and opposite-sex marriages equally. We use the exact same rites for both — in practice, meaning we use the modern Roman Catholic and 1979 BCP rites, with pronoun changes. Truthfully, apart from usually including a petition for legal recognition of same-sex marriages in the intercessions, there is usually no reference to the fact that the marriage being celebrated is same-sex as opposed to opposite-sex. To me, the idea that there would be a separate rite for same-sex and opposite-sex marriages is as bizarre as the idea that there would be separate ordination rites for the ordination of male and female priests.

  16. Jay

    The Society of Catholic Priests sounds a lot like the Society of the Holy Trinity, a ministerium geared toward Lutherans of the Evangelical Catholic variety.

  17. Stuart

    I’m concerned that the Niagara Rite is more than merely Pabulum or an unfortunate example of badly done inclusive language liturgy. Consider the following quotes:

    From Part 1, Option iv: “It is praying, their prayers and ours, which will fulfill God’s purposes for N. and N. Praying is an outlook, a sustained energy, which creates a union
    and makes love and forgiveness life-long.”

    Our prayers don’t “fulfill” God’s purposes, they assent to the purposes which God both proposes and fulfills. God bestows the energies that allow love, forgiveness, and union and praying is a hope for and a response to God’s action. I think the Niagara Rite reflects an inadequate, perhaps false, idea of the nature of prayer. Would you agree?

    Also from Part I, option iv: “Eternal love never fails; our love needs to forgive and be forgiven.”

    I simply don’t know what that means. Please help.

    More from Part I, option iv: “As they grow together, these two men/women foster one another’s strengths,
    they provide each other with the reassurance and love needed to overcome their weaknesses. From the beginning God draws them now to a completely new life. They become awake to each other, aware of each other,
    sensitive to each other’s needs.”

    Ummm… I would think their common life in Jesus Christ, their shared faith in the victory of His Resurrection would provide the reassurance and love they need to overcome their weaknesses. Didn’t their completely new life begin in Holy Baptism and isn’t their marriage simply a witness to the way they wish to live their Baptismal Covenant? If they weren’t being married, they wouldn’t be awake, aware, and sensitive to each other?? Or does marriage makes people uniquely awake, aware, and sensitive to each other??? I’m also not sure what the author intends here.

    From the Collect, option iv: “bless them and us that we may all walk together in your garden of potential and new life.”

    What or where is “the garden of potential and new life?” Whatever it is, how is it a Christian concept grounded in Scripture, Tradition, the Prayerbook, or even Reason. Please help me understand this.

    From the Vows, option i: “This covenant must be grounded in mutual
    respect, in shared power, in compassion and trust.”

    I’m a psychotherapist (in private practice for 15 years) and I despise the invasion of vacuous self-help jargon into Liturgy. What do the authors mean by “shared power?” I suspect they think it’s self-evident but not to me. Christian marriage would be based on mutual submission of each to each and both to God. Does the author mean shared responsibility for making decisions? If so, why not say that. But I think language of submission to God would be more appropriate. The rest of vow i is just sentimental drivel. Vow iv seems the best of the bunch.

    From the Exchanging of Symbols of Unity: “May Christ’s love purify your love for each other, Christ’s humanity keep you sensitive and practical.”

    Christ’s humanity keep me sensitive and practical?!? Is that what the Incarnation was about. I thought it was about the wildly impractical and improbable possibility that my innate tendency to sin and destructive self-will might be curbed by Christ’s offering of His flesh. Becoming human and devoting your life to overthrowing the social order, casting out demons, and dying on a Cross also seem somewhat impractical as a goal for living.

    From the Blessings on the Couple: “We give you thanks and praise for N. and N., because you create in them the desire for intimacy and companionship, calling them out of isolation and exile, strengthening them against
    prejudice and fear, and embracing them in a family of friends and loved ones.”

    Why were the couple in isolation and exile prior to getting married? Where was the Christian community one hoped nurtured them and in whose Common Prayer they participated. This service keeps confusing the fruits of the non-sacrament of Marriage with the fruits of Holy Baptism.

    The Blessing, option ii: “Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now, there is no more loneliness.”

    Ummmm….there can be a lot of loneliness, periods of coldness, and mutual abandonment while living in a healthy marriage. This isn’t unusual. The marriage vows help the partners to live in stability in their union and seek grace in order to forgive each other, repent, and renew their covenant. Marriage is an ascetic practice that seeks to foster holiness of life. Why does the Niagara Rite seem to downplay reality in favor of sentimentality?

    Preface i: “To you, God of joy, we lift our hearts
    with thanksgiving for your unending love towards us:
    For, to reveal that love,
    You draw us into relationship with you
    and with one another”

    Rather, to reveal God’s love for us, God sent His only Son to draw us into relationship with God and one another. What our relationships reveal, apart from Christ, I couldn’t say.

    Derek, forgive me for going on at length, but I worry about the state of our Church when a Diocese can present this Rite for public use.

  18. Christopher

    usually go straight to the vows when I look at rites of this sort. They tell us a lot of what is intended. This, for example, is hugely problematic for me:

    “Do you believe that you share a compatible understanding of partnership and that you
    know each other intimately enough to trust the promises you each have made?”

    One of the reasons that our vows both contained “stability” and “fidelity,” though the latter is another way of stating the former, is because of perceptions (and sometimes reality) that same-sex couples, especially male couples, practice open relationships, which to my mind are incompatible with a Christian understanding of commitment and faithfulness. Avoiding this misperception was very important in a way similar to a Jewish understanding that one not eat something publicly that gives the perception of breaking kashrut.

    This phrasing suggests that it is only the couples understanding of relationship is what matters and not God’s sociality incarnate in Jesus Christ and our faithful discernment together in Him as Church community. Relying on brother-making rites, contrast the mealy-mouthed vow above with this:

    “Do you X seek to keep X as your brother, promising to love him as Christ first loved us, that serving one another as Christ in body, mind, and spirit through fidelity and obedience, through stability and ongoing conversion of life, you might together be a sign to the world of God’s friendship and peace?”

    Second, getting to know another is a lifelong process. The promises we make to another are not something that can be so preconditioned. We may get to know after the fact parts of our partner we don’t like very much–I can be slobby, for example. (Not to mention, the vows make me wonder if precounseling has occured.)

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