Friday, December 07, 2018

Yet Another Novel Rite, and the Problem With the Whole Idea

So, on Facebook my attention was directed to this Advent-specific Eucharist rite from Trinity Wall Street, which the Episcopal cognoscenti are likely to recognize as one of the go-to places in the church for liturgical trendiness. So let's just say the service time explanation is not promising to this visitor, given that exactly one service time (the Sunday crack-o'-dawn said liturgy) admits to using a BCP liturgy. This leaflet is for a weekday service, so at least it wouldn't figure in my weekend planning But let me move on to its text.

These days I can save myself a lot of trouble by skipping ahead to the institution narrative and looking for the pro omnis error, and sure enough, there it is. And I could go over a bunch of other faults, and places where it's different but OK. And at least they use the Creed, straight up (which is not required for such a service, as it happens). But here's the point: it was proffered withe the question, Is it legit? Well, surely it could be, because the Bishop of New York can authorize nearly anything, and supposedly the Eucharistic prayer comes from the 1982 Scottish book (which seems to be mostly accurate, though I didn't do a line-by-line comparison). And the problem is that, even with this double layer of presumed authority, I am placed, as a potential visitor, in the position of having to work out whether I can bring myself to say the words, which are on top of the theological considerations leaning towards precious, lacking either 16th century flourish or 20th century directness (though they aren't completely terrible). There are too many "legitimate" liturgies out there with serious problems, and too many bishops who turn a blind eye to the theological shenanigans in their dioceses or engage in such themselves.

I know about Trinity Wall Street, and so I already know to look elsewhere should I find myself in NYC, just as in Boston I hie myself to Advent instead of Trinity Copley Square. But the unwary Episcopalian who isn't already with the Program is in for a surprise. A couple of years back it was pleasantly shocking to go to a noon Eucharist at WNC, because again one went there not knowing what to expect, and getting a straight-up Rite II service; my relief was almost palpable. It was easy to choose an ACNA parish while travelling because I knew they weren't going to do anything too weird. The truth of it all is that, really, you have to give up on any caring about the theology of what is being said to be totally comfortable travelling through this denomination, and in the mid-Atlantic you are likely to show up at a famous church and get something which would throw any theologian before Bultmann into a rage.

For a church whose only binding principle is supposedly its liturgy, the fact that there is increasingly less adherence to that liturgy, and where its most prominent parishes are increasingly known for not using those liturgies, means that this principle is increasingly paid nothing but lip service. In fact it appears that the one unifying principle, such as it is, is ownership of church properties. But be that it may, the state of high-end Episcopal liturgy is more like unitarian free-form "worship", but with higher production values.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These days I find I can save myself a lot of trouble by looking straight to the Latinity of a blog post—if the author attempts "pro omnis" for "pro omnibus," for example… ;)