Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good resources in Evangelical Lutheran Worship

The "cranberry book" - not to be confused with the "red book"! - is authorized for use with the permission of the diocesan bishop; I assume it's the same in the US. Here are some finds:

*A tempered form of the Litany of the Saints (237)
*A congregational penitential service with laying on of hands and absolution, suitable for Saturday night (p. 238)
*Provision for a more "Breviary" style office

Of course, Fr Pfatteicher has spoken out, and the blogosphere has grumbled in response.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On criticism of Israel

Watching Boston Legal the other day I observed a scene in which "Denny," the character of William Shatner (himself Jewish of course), accuses Israel of "overreacting" against Lebanon. In response, his Jewish girlfriend snaps "Are you saying Israel doesn't have the right to defend itself?" Denny answers: "Of course they do, but you don't blow up a country because you're mad." He is then "dumped" by his girlfriend over his unpalatably nuanced views on the Middle East.

Modern Israel, of course, was reconstituted in the aftermath of the worst genocidal episode in modern history. After centuries of wandering and harsh treatment, the attempted extermination of the Jews was obviously the last straw in demonstrating the need for a homeland of their own. Unfortunately, Israel has at times tended to use its inauspicious beginnings as licence to do whatever it wants, regardless of what international law might have to say about it, and those who criticize such excesses are told, à la Bush, that "we're at war" and "you're either with us or against us."

I have a hard time accepting that dichotomy. I'm clearly not "against" Israel, much less the Jews as a people. (Heck, I like to spend Friday nights in shul!) Indeed, I've often expressed my admiration for their perseverance in the face of pretty much unanimous adversity. The Jews are the great underdogs of European history and one cannot but respect that. But like a new superhero that is still learning its own strength, Israel needs to learn that it is no longer the underdog: it has considerable economic and military strength, unlike the Palestinians living under its rule, who are now the ones in really dire straits. So when I stick up for the Palestinians, it's for precisely the same reasons I've always stuck up for the Jews. So trying to tell me I'm an anti-Zionist for extending the same courtesy to Palestinians that I have in the past extended to Jews is rather like trying to eat one's cake and have it too. (We like it when you speak up for the underdog, as long as the underdog is us).

Take Israeli Apartheid Week. Apartheid isn't just a dramatic-sounding allegation. It has a meaning under international law, and arguments can be made that certain Israeli laws meet that definition. For those who disagree, the appropriate response is to form a counter-argument, not "zomg how can you harrass Jewish students you Shoah-denying anti-semitic assholes?" The even better response would be to acknowledge that notwithstanding our affection for Israel, all governments err, and Israel continues to occupy Palestinian areas and deny its inhabitants labour and mobility rights. Instead some seem to think that the only two possible positions on Israel are "impostor state that needs to be wiped off the map" and "perfect people doing God's work and above the law." Everyone in the international community hates on the US when they take that tone, so when I have the exact same reaction to Israel doing so, it's weird to assume that it must have something to do with Judaism.

Like Denny's girlfriend, some people seem to continue to believe that the world is made up of uncomplicated "good guys" and "bad guys." Most of us, however, learn as adults that people cannot be divided so straightforwardly, and that has nothing to do with being anti-semitic. I have criticisms of Israel, sure - and of Canada, and the Vatican, and Palestine. I don't hate it though, any more than I hate any of those other countries - indeed I probably have fewer reservations about Israel's behaviour than about Palestine's. But a tu quoque doesn't resolve the problems facing the Middle East. If we keep using being shot at as a pretext to shoot back, the shooting will never end.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Anglicanorum cœtibus

There's been some degree of negative press, too often from those ordinarily of an inclusive sensibility I fear, about the recent papal bull on Anglical personal ordinariates. The Archbishop of Canterbury has (I think not fairly, as some even over at the highly-informative Anglo-Catholic agreed) been accused of sharing this sentiment. I think it's important to remember that the groups involved are Anglo-Papalists of the old school, a large proportion of whom found themselves unable to continue in altar fellowship with us long before this development. The rest are largely Anglicans, primarily in the provinces of Great Britain, who have been in functionally impaired with their diocesan bishops for over a decade. Affirming-minded Anglicans have been known to grumble about the cadre of Papalist-minded clergy "holding things up." We can hardly turn round and condemn them for embracing the Magisterium of Rome. They have fulfilled the great Anglo-Papalist dream, which was thought dead not long ago. Their decision is perfectly appropriate for them. Meanwhile, the Papacy, often regarded with suspicion by liberals over a combination of real and perceived inflexibility, has extended an offer whose intended audience regards it as being on highly advantageous terms.

Moreover, no one is hurt. We continue to remember the Lund Principle, whereby we do apart only that which conscience requires (sometimes taken to some highly innovative extents). Why should not Anglicans congregations in communion with Rome and Canterbury join together for, say, services of Solemn Evensong & Benediction? There would admittedly be an asymmetry in the standards of practice required on either side, but it is not canonically impossible. Roman Catholics, meanwhile, will benefit from the Anglican patrimony in their midst as they do from their Byzantine brothers and sisters, and we from the Mar Thoma Church.

When I was in Hamilton (for those from elsewhere: the next city over from Toronto), I visited the local Reformed Episcopal church for their monthly north-ender. They were engaged with an ecumenical consortium of churches in the area in outreach to nearby McMaster University students. All of these opportunities for ministry (dare we say Fresh Expressions?) will continue to be available and ill-will is really unnecessary, even though I will miss being able to make my communion at the Cathedral of the Annunciation when in Ottawa. The Continuum blogosphere is relatively low in content related to its estranged bodies of origin, in contrast to the Realignment-wave separation, which feature a high editorial emphasis on the evils of "Mrs Schori" and the Bishops of Niagara (theologically conservative correspondents in Niagara hailed his election as the choice of the most fair-minded in a pool of liberal candidates) and New Westminster (who ratified his diocesan synod's third resolution calling for a local option for the blessing of same-gender unions). Here again, however, I cannot see why communities with two viable congregations could not arrange to share the "physical plant," or to negotiate mutually profitable terms of sale where it would otherwise go unused. Here in Toronto, the church of St Clement, Riverdale, goes unused as far as I know, while the congregation of St Clement of Rome meets for Morning Prayer & Holy Communion from the Reserved Sacrament in the hall of a United church in Leslieville, with a deacon from the Independent Anglican Church Canada Synod (which uses a redaction of the 1549 prayer book as its official liturgy).

So while the secular press enjoys trying to dissect the vagaries of ecclesiastical polity, and as we of all confessions continue to engage in self-reflection over the ethical character of our church leadership through our history, I hope that for those of us within the Church life will continue to go on more or less as it has, and perhaps even start to look up if recent signs of opportunity for rapprochement are indicative.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


The fanfare at the conclusion of the Vigil ceremonies of Easter signalling the commencement of the Mass proper, from Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ontario. Sadly due to low attendance we had to forgo the Vigil this year, but the Exultet was sung at the morrow Mass.