Monday, October 05, 2009

Crone-ies Are Our Future

I don't recommend the StandFirm thread which called my attention to this. There is too much snark about the "simple country bishop", and the comments degenerate into argument about homosexuality which is not as snarky as the typical SF commentary, but which is not especially germane to the subject of the post.

That subject is the September newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. It's not surprising that it has a lot of material about General Convention, or that this material goes off about how inclusive the church is. One despairs of seeing a convention eucharist anywhere outside of, say, Ft. Worth where traditional vestments are worn and a solemn rite is used; apparently that's not celebratory enough, judging from the pictures. Pep rally liturgy doesn't include me, but we all know that a white college-educated married man who wants Rite II straight up and sky-high is not the guy they want to include. Some of the other features get plenty more snark from the SF folks than they deserve, particularly an article about children's bibles which begins with some snark of its own, but then goes on to suggest, well, editions from surprisingly orthodox sources-- did anyone expect someone from Mt. St. Alban to recommend a book published by Zondervan, never mind Adoremus?

But then we get to the "monthly meditation", and we find ourselves reading about "crones". Now, as Ms. Lanyi doesn't quite get around to admitting, "crone" as she uses it comes straight from the whole Wiccan-Gravesian "triple goddess" fantasy. One gets some sense of how things have fallen from the days when Florence King's south (of Southern Ladies and Gentlemen Fame) was terrorized by Dear Old Things, Rocks, and Dowagers (in her taxonomy), so that it can be suggested in this day that an older woman needs some sort of masonic ritual or some such thing to justify her exercise of whatever womanly power she has. And it's ironic that Ms. Lanyi, having just said that crones need a ritual that doesn't look like something pagan, then proceeds to set forth exactly that sort of ritual. For an Episcopalian, it isn't as though we don't have ample material of our own for such a thing. One can mine the Book of Occasional Services for rites for just about anything, and besides that, one can see between that and the BCP the basic Anglican skeleton for constructing such a rite. A versicle and response, a reading from apposite scripture (and it isn't as though there aren't scriptural models for older women), a psalm, invocation of the Holy Spirit...

Instead, what we get is a neo-pagan ritual addressed, more or less, to a different god. Inside of that is exactly what they world recommends in this age: a ritual of mutual self-affirmation. It seems to me that a genuinely powerful woman would dispense with this and do it the old-fashioned way: through sheer force of personality. On another level, I don't want to ridicule the Red Hat Society for what it really is, but it really ought to be admitted that "When I am old, I shall go out to lunch with a club of other women, all wearing red hats" really cuts the heart out of the poem. The sentiment is much the same, and it is once again the antithesis of taking up one's cross.

I would be more likely to dismiss this as an aberration if I had never seen the trial liturgies of the ongoing round of liturgical revision. They are dominated by the same borrowing from pagan sources, except that the borrowing is concealed by using scriptural texts which, in their liturgical context, are assigned the same readings that the neo-pagans and their new age fellow travellers assign to our scriptures. It's at this point that I turn into a 1979 traditionalist. I see no reason to accept liturgy which is constructed at the dictate of non- and often anti-Christian authorities. But there seems to be no stopping it. Once we get gay marriages dogmatized, it seems as though it will be impossible to subject this stuff to any kind of reasonable theological test.

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