Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Pendulum

There seems to be a perception in certain quarters that North American Anglicanism is getting more and more liberal as time goes by. That may be true in a sense, but it is not a linear development.

I am an Anglican, and I am twenty years old as of this writing. I certainly know young Anglicans who are very keen on the Book of Alternative Services, and all kinds of doctrinal laxity. But most young Anglicans I know are not in this category. It may be true that most (though not all) of us are "liberals" on the "hot-button" issues of women in the priesthood, and same-sex partnerships. But we also take the Creeds seriously and hold firm to Nicene and Trinitarian orthodoxy. We have a high view of the sacraments, and believe in the Real Presence and apostolic succession. We're waiting for the Baby Boomers to kick the bucket so that we don't have to listen to them tell themselves how "inaccessible" we find the Book of Common Prayer. Then we can bury their tie-die stoles with them and crack out the maniples and birettas. I don't mean to be overly crass: the pendulum is swinging the other way, and honouring the example of those who came immediately before us doesn't necessitate that we mimic them when we come to assume positions of Church leadership.

We are anxious to make our contributions to the Church. Take vocations to the ordained ministry. Anglicans my age will seek ordination to the diaconate and priesthood as a first career to a greater extent than have the clergy of our parents' generation.

The churchmanship of the future is high on sacramental grace and mystery, broad on doctrinal interpretation (within the historic formularies of the Church), and low on dogma, kitsch, and minimalism. It expects much of its followers and yet forgives much. And I for one am very much excited to be a young Anglican at the turn of the twenty-first century.


aaronorear said...

Bless you for this.

Davis said...

Don't be quite so harsh in your broad judgement of us Baby Boomers. Some of us have kept things going 'til your generation could "save" the Church... and believe you me, no tie dyed stoles in our sacristy!

eric said...

Couldn't put it better myself!

Anonymous said...

Very, very true.


Tobias Haller said...

Although I admit to having experienced the phenomenon of tie-dying, I had the good sense to confine it to T-shirts in the 60s! As to birettas, I prefer the Canterbury Cap, but that is a Dearmeresque quirk, and I do not follow Fr Percy in all of his concerns. For instance, I find fiddlebacks can be quite suitable, particularly in hot weather.

Thank you for the observations!

Elisabeth said...

Here's a twenty-one-year-old Anglican who's got the BCP memorised: consider this manifesto signed.

SPK said...

Can Scoto-Catholics sign off on this manifesto? Less praise bands, more preaching bands!

JCF said...

A warning from an ancient GenXer:

Today's "sacramental grace and mystery", may well be seen as tomorrow's "dogma, kitsch, and minimalism" (and vice-versa!)

Speaking as a (U.S.) American Episcopalian, I believe in Prayer Book revision every generation or so (i.e., I think the '79 BCP is overdue).

...NOT to introduce, pro forma, the latest contemporary trends. No, simply to review what worked, and what didn't---especially in light of changing demographics (e.g., the '79 BCP had virtually no imput from ordained women---to say nothing of OUT LGBTs!---for obvious reasons).

More often than not, moreover, prayer book revision ought to be about recovering older traditions, not inventing new ones (Even cutting away the "kitsch": as much as I personally enjoy the "Star Wars" liturgy of Eucharistic Prayer C, even I can see that, as a whole, it has not been successful)

I've never seen a tie-dye stole . . . but I have seen plenty of African Kente cloth, and Latino "Campesino"-type liturgical vestments.

While not painting them w/ a broad brush (in terms of their artistic quality), I think it's important to honor the faith they represent---especially by groups for whom their faith was a lifeline, in way we North Americans have difficulty understanding.

Enjoying your blog, Geoff!