Liturgical Disruption

This article by Andrew McGowan is a few years old, but it has stuck in my mind as I explore different versions of the Christian faith. When the piece was written, the Episcopalians were going through a conversation about changes to the book of prayer, primarily around gender recognition.

One of the faintly tragic elements on display in the 1979 Prayer Book are the numerous borrowings from Orthodox liturgy, which reflect not just scholarly knowledge, but prayerful conversations with Russian and Greek scholars of the mid-20th century who were then genuine dialogue partners. It is hard to find such engagement with eastern Christianity in the Episcopal Church now, beyond the somewhat hollow testimony of facsimile icons in Church bookstores.

This puts me down a course of thought that recognizes that, no matter how positive the intent, changes to the fundamentals of Christian tradition put Christians in conflict. These changes become a barrier to ecumenism. They also leads to splits within churches, as some of the members will inevitably disagree with disruptions to tradition in which they are, presumably, deeply invested.

Episcopalian Alan Jacobs, who linked to the article, was very concerned about the revisions.

McGowan here identifies what I think is most worrisome about the current push for revision of the BCP: it is radically exclusionist. The Orthodox don’t matter, Catholics don’t matter, Anglicans outside of the U.S. don’t matter, non-revisionist Episcopalians don’t matter. Literally no one in the world matters except the revisionists themselves.

I understand where he is coming from and I wish more churches would take these things into consideration. It seems like revisions are almost considered in a vacuum.

A Bigger Conversation About Liturgy | Covenant

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