Thursday, July 05, 2012

No Man's Prayer Book Is Safe

...while General Convention is in session. At least, that's the risk offered by one resolution, as Bishop Martins sees it. The offender is A059, which fixes an oversight in the authorization for use of the Revised Common Lectionary. Now theoretically putting everyone on a different lectionary should have gone through the prayer book revision process, which requires an absolute minimum of two GCs to put a change through. The problem is that when they authorized the change to the new lectionary, they forgot about the lessons for the proper liturgies, so that Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week are still only authorized to use the 1979 readings. Well, OK, so they're proposing to spot fix this this GC. Well, as the Bishop observes, once this has been done for this, it's probably available to do for anything. So (to take his example) they could rewrite the marriage rite on the spot. And therefore the BCP could change pretty much every three years, instead of every forty years or so, as in the past. Also, being able to spot-"fix" the text makes attempting changes all that more inviting. And then it's a "Lord" here, a "Father" there, a "sin" in another place, and pretty soon those of us with some attachment to the 1979 book find ourselves stuck with the Enriching Our Worship tripe. We have all these people claiming that we are bound by worship, not doctrine; but of course there's a lot of doctrine in the BCP. And what better way to become even more unbound than we are in today's "what's a rubric" free-wheeling days than to simply change the book constantly. I'm with the bishop. What we don't need is yet another way to slip change into our worship.

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