"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

ECUSA's General Convention: just getting started

As per formal schedule, it's just ended. But in two respects, it's only beginning.

The election of the liberal, ex-Catholic Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, as the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is, among other things, ECUSA's thumb-of-the nose at Rome. On the eve of the GC, Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, warned that if the Church of England adopted such a resolution the "shared partaking of the one Lord's table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance." As if on cue, the American branch of the Anglican Communion waltzed off into the unreachable distance. The home church seems sure to follow after due hemming and hawing. So much for ecumenism. More traditional Anglicans who still hoped for some sort of institutional unity with Rome will now have to look to Africa. Anybody want to buy a plane ticket?

The other harbinger is rather funny but no less telling. While ECUSA continues its headlong ride off the road of Tradition, clerical worthies devise ways to place a patina of ancient churchliness on the events of ordinary life. Thus the earnest work of a committee that is devising, among other portentous things,
...Liturgies for Rites of Passage for times of transition. We have proposals for rites related to stages in human development -- youth, rising adulthood, midlife, elders. Prayers for things such as the first day of school, going away to camp, earning a driver's license, beginning to date, going off to college, moving from the family home, beginning or ending a job, surviving a tragedy, healing after a divorce, taking on the care of elder parents, becoming a grandparent, remembering a departed soul a week / month / year after death, visiting the site of a death, coming home without a departed loved one, the birthday of a departed loved one, and many others. There are liturgies for celebrating a significant birthday, celebrating an engagement, receiving or claiming a new name, celebrating our elders. I'll be on a sub-committee working on many of these rites of passage texts.
How reassuringly Anglican. As the church's connection with the Great Tradition grows ever more tenuous, the appurtenances of the Great Tradition are spread ever more widely and thinly over the lives of its members. In case anybody was worrying, we now have a soothing balm.

Plus ça change....
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