Sunday, July 18, 2021

Too much?

Is there too much going on in Anglicanland right now?

Among various items of news and issues of the day, several matters stand out for a wee bit of Antipodean commentary.

(1) The [latest] row in the Church of England

Ian Paul on Psephizo has a bracing response to Giles Fraser's column provocativly titled "The Church is Abandoning its Flock." I seem to be noticing on social media some Kiwi Anglicans approvingly drawing attention to Fraser's words.

Such to and fro in the CofE blogosphere over recent weeks started with the publication of a church planting strategy associated with Canon John McGinley, a priest in the Diocese of Leicester and a leader in New Wine, who proposes thousands of lay-led church plants and unfortunately described buildings and trained clergy as "key limiting factors". Then there has been a paper, from Archbishop Stephen Cottrell himself, along somewhat similar lines, and much CofE angst resulting thereof - all told in one handy article by Catherine Pepinster

While I want to be, and must be sensitive about wading into an internal ruction thousands of miles away in another Anglican church, I wonder if a couple of observations might be in order, noting in my own church the popular reception of the Fraser column, and the parallel observable fact that we have rather a large number of greying, quantitatively diminishing congregations here in the Blessed Isles? Here goes:

On the one hand: when safeguarding of ministry performance (i.e. maintaining of high ministry standards) is in the spotlight (both in the Blessed Isles and in the British Isles), isn't there a renewed importance on educating, training and formation of missional leaders such that "key limiting factors" is a "what do you not get about investing in clergy" clanger of the highest clanging and clashing of cymbols?

On the other hand: when actual numbers of Anglican congregations, when proportion of growing populations identifying as active Anglicans are so low and plummeting lower (in both the Blessed Isles and in the British Isles), isn't there an urgent need for open minds and open hearts to any and every possibility of growing congregations? And, relatedly, what do we (especially the "we" of clerics) not get about the unlikelihood of younger generations of new Anglicans turning up en masse to existing congregations of older Anglicans?

Put differently: the likelihood of new Anglican growth by new Anglican initiatives alongside and/or beyond existing congregations and current structured ways of doing things is intrinsically much higher than the likelihood of new Anglican growth by doing things the way we have been doing them for the past half or even whole century.

In sum: here, there and everywhere in the Anglican Communion, we need great clergy; and here and there, there is desperate need for re-growing Anglican churches; and we may or may not be able to regrow our churches with the clergy we are currently recruiting and training with current methods.

(3) Anyone for virtual communion? 

One of the lovely challenges of Anglicanland issues is that I have lots of friends to be even handed to, on various sides of multi-faceted matters of debate :). 

In this case, Bishop Tim Harris (Diocese of Adelaide) has had an article published recently on virtual communion and Bosco Peters (Diocese of Christchurch) has made a series of responses (one, two, three, four, [update from original post] and now five) which take up the questions +Tim raises (see citation of Tim's paper in the first response).

Here I don't wish to take up the matter beyond one observation, but encourage you to head to Bosco's series of posts (where you will see a couple of comments by me).

My observation is this: sometimes in responding to a situation we respond to a crisis which drives a very pragmatic approach, but such approach is not likely to then be taken as some kind of new norm; and other times we are responding to a situation conscious that our response will determine a new norm.

With respect to the former, and the eucharist, in circumstances such as Japanese prisoner of war camps in WW2, there are stories of communion being celebrated using water and rice instead of wine and bread. This seems a reasonable pragmatic response to a crisis and we can assume that no one participating in that particular crisis of deprivation of a number of norms was going to propose when back in normal life that water and rice should replace wine and bread.

With respect to the latter, and the eucharist, within our own ACANZP, we have liberalised reception of communion at certain points in recent decades: for instance, to no longer require confirmation as well as baptism as a prerequisite to receiving communion; and to no longer require that a communicant be a member of our church. By making such changes we have formulated a new normality and it is unlikely that we will go backwards on these changes.

With respect to discussion about virtual communion (for want of a better description of the matter under discussion), I think one question (among, it turns out, a large number of questions) is the question of whether we are discussing a pragmatic response to the crisis of being in lockdown (i.e. unable to physically gather in the normal way for congregational worship in one physical space) or a (new normal) response to having the facility in the modern age of gathering a congregation virtually via Zoom and the like, with bread and wine handily available in each of our own kitchens?

Then, if lockdown is a crisis justifying a pragmatic answer to the question(s) re virtual communion, how long is required for lockdown to be a crisis? Seven days or seven weeks (2020's first NZ lockdown) or seven months?

(3) Evangelical Anglicanism is somewhat indebted to Calvin, is it not? So what about Calvin on ... indirectly ... That Topic?

Does Calvin's attention to justice and equity point the way forward for evangelical Anglicans in the controversy on That Topic? A little while back Bowman Walton drew my attention to an article by Andrew Goddard which I have only this weekend found time to track down and to read. The article is called "Semper Reformanda in a Changing World: Calvin, Usury and Evangelical Moral Theology."*

This article has occasioned - a few years ago - some debate between Goddard and Crockett, then Bishop of Bangor - links at this Thinking Anglicans post.

I note the following to readers here:

  1. The author of the original article, Andrew Goddard, is a consistently pro clarity of tradition and Scripture opponent of liberalization, often writing in evangelical contexts (but with reason and charity).
  2. The linked "Semper Reformanda" article clearly carries 1 along; yet
  3. The second half of the article, on Calvin’s revision of formerly clear tradition and Scripture teaching on usury, is not – in my reading – as easily dismissed as Goddard does in respect of Calvin setting out a pathway for present day re-reading of Scripture. Consider for example the somewhat blithe way in which he finds no moral qulams in the use by Anglicans of contraception in the modern age. The more he articulates what Calvin did re usury, in the face of Luther and co to the contrary, the more he presents a case against his overall thesis! (You could check out what Bishop Crockett has to say via the links in the Thinking Anglicans post).
  4. Whether Calvin (on usury) or Goddard (on Calvin’s exegetical example for today) is right or wrong etc etc, my surmise is that, at the least, Goddard effectively presents the circumstances under which evangelicals might agree to disagree on tradition and Scripture on homosexuality.
  5. Calvin's key hermeneutical approach to usury/Scripture/his present context was to invoke considerations of justice and equity. Now, are not "justice and equity" considerations in 20th and 21st century Anglican debates.
  6. And for any Anglicans reading here who are not familiar with the influence of John Calvin on Anglicanism's Reformational foundations, there is more Calvinism than Lutheranism in the BCP and 39A.
(4) And for those who worry about Anglicans cornering all the debates and controversies in global Christianity ...

A new battle in Roman Catholic Liturgy Wars has emerged as Pope Francis has issued a directive restricting use of the old-style Latin Mass (i.e. pre Vatican 2 Latin Mass, noting there is a Vatican 2 Latin Mass).

"Pope Francis cracked down Friday on the spread of the old Latin Mass, reversing one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signature decisions in a major challenge to traditionalist Catholics who immediately decried it as an attack on them and the ancient liturgy.

Francis reimposed restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass that Benedict relaxed in 2007, and went further to limit its use. The pontiff said he was taking action because Benedict’s reform had become a source of division in the church and been used by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church and its liturgy."

Further insight on the way in which Benedict XVI's previous decision has been hijacked is here.

In short, sadly, divisions in Christianity are all around us. To quote the best bit of Latin re the church, it should not be so because Jesus prayed, "Ut unim sunt."

Incidentally, did you know that Latin versions of Anglican eucharists are acceptable in certain circumstances?

(Feeding off a witty point I saw on Twitter) Article 24: Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the people understandeth expressly gives permission for Latin speaking/comprehending Anglicans to celebrate the eucharist in a Latin translation :).

Have a great week!

*(Originally published in Sung Wook Chung (ed), Alister E McGrath and Evangelical Theology: A Dynamic Engagement, Paternoster Press, 2003, pp235-63. Reprinted [at the link above] with the kind permission of Paternoster.)


Unknown said...

Myriad Calvinistic lay-led telyeucharists in Latin. Wow.


Peter Carrell said...

I’ve seen the future … and I want my money back and a return ticket to the past :)

Father Ron said...

This is a most interesting thread, Bishop Peter, and one about which I am disposed to offer a link (below) to our lates parish news-sheet, which happens to describe one image of how the Church and community can brought together by an interest in the Lirturgy of the Eucharist. The final paragraph indicates, quite well, what is SMA's intention in local evangelism:[0]=AZUqlwykqpX5h7X_LrlB2W06X5x8-Ml9kUZdR1S6uf0MCvLnQwvfFQPnQMwBMaroiVH07yVpQ3vo-Q1vSd5G_EBKw6F09RJ-nxIeLahE2Bq7kHwUGdwDOpoYju2jQvjIgma7GU-jv0Yse9qGVq7-EOIt&__tn__=EH-R

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these thoughtful reflections, Peter.

Many are going beyond your point (as I understood it) of Latin translations of Anglican Rites to highlighting the allowance of the Rite that Augustine brought to Canterbury in 597. Our own Church's constitutional change (which I opposed) allows bishops here to authorise such a "form of service".

If celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass is more important than communion with the Bishop of Rome, then Pope Francis' insight that this is nurturing disunity within his communion is proved.

In my post, I underscore what many appear to be missing: the ecclesiology of Vatican I is reinforced - the absolute universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome in every diocese.



Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bosco
Indeed, Vatican 1 is reinforced.

Anonymous said...

For anyone here who does not know a Catholic mad at Francis--


Unknown said...

"more Calvinist than Lutheran"

The perduring ecology of the forest is Lutheran. For better and for worse, the Church of England is more like the Church of Sweden than any Reformed church.

Legacies aside, Reformed theology and churchmanship since Beza have proven to be deeply ill-suited to established, national churches. Conversely, of course, doughty Reformed presbyteries have no use for baptismal regeneration, virtual presence, three holy orders, etc. Even Sydney could not get into the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

The English have been pruning back their Calvinist growth almost since Cranmer planted it. Matthew Parker reclaimed the pre-reformation past and recast the rather Bezan 42A as the proto-Anglican 39A.

Although some would cut them down for spite, a few fine old Calvinian trees do survive in niches of the BCP and 39A. And because the English have little acquaintance with confessional Lutheranism, even those among us who would rather bang their heads on a wall than be any kind of Calvinist sleepwalk into that idiom anyway in workanight theologizing.
(Or, resiling from that, they sleepwalk into the moonlit Tiber and tread water until Catholics pull them out.) When Anglicans are muddling through, that present absence in the forest is the muddle.

None of this is Calvin's fault. On many topics-- angels, union with Christ, the Holy Spirit-- he is superb. But I thank the Lord daily that I studied the fathers St Thomas Aquinas, diverse contemplatives, Luther and Lutheran confessions, and the Byzantines first.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bowman,
I am enlightened and will try to be more, ahem, balanced, in the future re Lutheranism and Calvinism's contribution to Anglicanism!

While I accept that certain forms of 21st century Anglicanism would not gain admittance to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, frankly, some of my local Down Under experiences of Calvinista Anglicanism suggests the Alliance is being a bit picky!

As for Ed Feser ... well, either the Holy Spirit is at work in the church (enabling correct choice of Pope) or not; and if the Holy Spirit is unreliable (or thwarted) in elections for such important positions, then there is a question whether the structural faith put in one man is appropriate for the church, noting Luther's wisdom that we are always sinners.

A synodical church - dare I say this to you? :) - might be a better remedy for the reality of failure and fault in the church's polity.

Anonymous said...

Part 5 of my series responding to Bishop Tim's paper on virtual eucharists and remote consecration is now here. Tim's paper uses the lens of BCP 1662. Virtual Eucharists and remote consecration may very well have a robust theological justification, but a plain reading of BCP 1662 is not that justification. In fact, a plain reading of BCP 1662 strongly argues against Virtual Eucharists, remote consecration, and digital presbyteral administration of Holy Communion. These points can be followed at my blog post.



Unknown said...

"A synodical church..."

The church re-founded at Trent teeters between Vatican 1 and Vatican 2...

Did Benedict encourage the metastasis of authoritarian anti-modernism in the RCC? Or would that have precipitated from the atmosphere of these times anyway?

The Latinists hate Francis. But could he, who would devolve so many other problems, have left this one to local bishops?

Can authoritarian anti-modernists participate in synods in good faith? Probably not. But then where else are they to be heard?

Peter, you pose an interesting question.


Father Ron said...

Reverting, Bishop Peter, to your original, challenging, headline to this thread:

"Is there too much going on in Anglicanland right now?", in ruminative response, I ask:

Are the shepherds feeding the sheep? Or are they, in the Church of England at least, being encouraged to abandon the flock they have, in order to look for more sheep to pastor?

There are those in local congregations who have 'borne the heat and burden of the day', who now, perhaps, are being neglected in order to find 'new bums' for new seats in new contexts (and buildings) to be established by enthusiastic evangelists (not necessarily trained clergy) hungry for new pew fodder?

To feed on Christ in the Eucharist seems to me to have a certain priority in the salvific plan of Jesus for 'The Kingdom' ("Unless you eat......" - Jesus)

The world of Church has experienced the loss of impetus in mission with the COVID-induced deprivation of Eucharistic worship. Will a mission of earnest preaching ever provide a dietary sufficient of 'manna' for 'feeding the flock'? (Apostleship - with its connotation of gifted leadership - was listed by Saint Paul in Letters to the Corinthians as one of the gifts required in order for the Body of Christ to function. We ignore it to our peril).

Anonymous said...

"While I accept that certain forms of 21st century Anglicanism would not gain admittance to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, frankly, some of my local Down Under experiences of Calvinista Anglicanism suggests the Alliance is being a bit picky!"

The biggest elephant in a room with a herd of them. What an Anglican Church of Canada report gingerly called "the Reformed sensibility of some Anglicans."

As you will know from your travels here up yonder, Peter, that sensibility, flourishing down under, is marginal and even eccentric to most Episcopalians. Yet not only are some of the foremost theologians in TEC Reformed, but they teach in bastions of Anglo-Catholicism (Boersma, Nashotah House) and liberalism (Sonderegger, Virginia Theological Seminary). There is even a nascent movement to retrieve Richard Hooker and High Reformed theology associated with W. Bradford Littlejohn. But the most Reformed seminary here has a Lutheran systematician (Yeago, Trinity School for Ministry). I'm curious: have your wintering Calvinistas noticed any of this?

Up here, one suspects that the global reality is this-- subject to correction, of course-- Anglicans everywhere treat Reformed theology as an early influence one can take or leave unless-- (a) their Anglicanism is bound up with an anti-papal English nationalism, (b) they are personally close to actually Reformed churches (eg Mike Bird), (c) they only know the Four Point Calvinism that is not Reformed enough for oh Grand Rapids, Michigan, or some combination of these. Too often, Reformed theology is either carried as a rather militant identity or else rejected in disgusted reaction.

Anonymous said...

There is a via media. If I were an ABC convening a Lambeth Conference, I would put this bargain to the bishops--

(a) Theological Continuity. God is belittled by *motivated reasoning*, but glorified by faith seeking understanding. Because all ecumenical traditions explicitly rely on the canon of scripture, every theological idea is reconsidered by the stream of readers of the scriptures, including those of the present. Through time, traditions in theology (eg Maximian, Thomist, Lutheran, Reformed) can be recognised as useful heuristics for reading the scriptures to know God. They have sometimes been codified for ease and clarity (eg Ambigua, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Augsburg Confession, Heidelberg Catechism), but faithful churches use such documents simply to open the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Body of believers. Under the scriptures, every recognised heuristic is commended to all the faithful, and none may be excluded from any church or related institution.

(b) Historical Honesty. All training institutions must teach the actual *via media* between Wittenburg and Geneva as the matrix of reform in the north of Europe generally, and in the Church of England particularly. Such teaching must expose students to the ranges of opinion in Augsburg, Helvetic, and Tridentine circles, and likewise to the views of English bishops. The Church of England was not identified with any one of those tendencies; students may be taught that it exchanged papal for royal supremacy, but not that it was "founded" as a Reformed or anti-Catholic church. Like reformers on the Continent, those in England did not distinguish sharply between church reform and nation-building. No training is truthful to learn or qualifying for ordination that is partial with respect to this complex history. We encourage all Western churches to be honest about our common past.

Bargain? Yes, a trade. A deal.

"Accept the major traditions that influenced the CoE on an equal basis, and you have a healthy Anglican identity from the mere facts of the matter. We will recognise that, of course.

"But if you identify Anglican tradition as whole with some sectarian part of it, then patently you have only some partial identity, one that is closed to more integral Anglicans. We will recognise that too.

"We need Reformed voices everywhere, but there should not be a Reformed citadel anywhere."


Anonymous said...

Hi Bosco,

In the past fortnight, several comments for ADU and Liturgy have slipped away from my Android. Older blogs seem to be less stable in the latest iteration. So my first word to you here is simply gratitude for your due diligence on the timely topic.

I find myself splitting it into telecommunion and telyeucharist

Telecommunion is a clear solution to an unknown problem. It can seem, frankly, like power-mad clericalism to insist-- despite reserved sacrament, deacons, lay eucharistic ministers, centuries of tradition, etc-- on transmitting a really absent priest to a shut-in with whom two or three and Jesus are already really present. And insofar as social media have contributed to the atomisation that is emptying churches, disintegrating societies, increasing suicides, radicalising politics, etc, the use of one to distribute a whole parish’s communion seems like the dark satire that Kierkegaard might have written if he were alive to see these times.

Telyeucharist is a still unknown solution to a clear problem. If communities that are dense in the Lord normally interact online, then what is their mode of eucharist? For easy example, seminaries have that density and have always celebrated eucharists. Now that some are online, how should a cohort of students, faculty, staff, etc worship eucharistically? We have no reason to think that believers beyond seminaries will avoid new technologies for meeting online in the Lord.

How are the two problems different?

In telecommunion, as the label suggests, the tail of consecration for reception wags the dog of the ancient liturgy as a whole. The event is arranged around whatever reception requires, so that is the magic chiefly in dispute. But in telyeucharist, people want to be and act together in the Lord. Even if consecration happens-- pre-consecration? antecommunion? daily office?--the point of it is not individual reception, but deeper unity in Christ through participation in common worship.

Also telecommunion seems to be envisaged as communion for persons who need communion, much as car washes are for people who want washed cars. But telyeucharist is not so tautologous: when has an online community become one that really should be making eucharist together? Ought ADU to have been praying together all these years? The College of Cardinals? Fans of the Wallabies?

Most broadly, discussions of telecommunion are tacitly Protestant, assuming that communion is strengthening a communicant’s assurance that he has been justified by the blood of Christ. And the scenarios posed are often of bodies at their end for whom we might relinquish scruples or take risks.

But telyeucharist is desirable to those who seek participation in the Body that replaced the Temple as the place where heaven meets earth. This current is from the headwaters of the faith, but as it flows in a river of many tributaries, it must be sought at the Source to be understood and applied well.



Peter Carrell said...

Thanks All for recent comments - lots to think about.

A couple of responses:

Clearly there is Reformed theology and Reformed theology and Reformed theology: that is, there is (a) Calvin; (b) his early interpreters/Refomational confessions/Calvin’s influence on the BCP and 39A; (c) modern Reformed theologians, not all of whom are agreeable to (some) Reformed Anglicans (Barth doesn’t figure much1).

Internet communities: I am intrigued by the thought of the distinction you make, Bowman; but I think I am left (after a meeting today and another one recently on Zoom which included some folk I have never met in real life) thinking physical presence matters for the church: I want bread and wine for communion when I am in real communion with my fellow communicants.

Unknown said...

Thanks Peter. And thanks again to Bosco.

Technology for meeting will be vastly better when it incorporates virtual reality. Yes, even then we will probably always prefer the sensory experience of actual reality.

But let not the perfect be the enemy of the good. People have emotionally engaging community experiences online, When those are in the Lord, I'd like to understand them.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bowman, for your comment here.

First - can you please translate what you mean by "In the past fortnight, several comments for ADU and Liturgy have slipped away from my Android. Older blogs seem to be less stable in the latest iteration." Did you attempt to put a comment on my site, and this did not get there? I'm not sure why Peter or my (both being "older blogs") should be any less stable?

My series (I have at least one more post in mind) is attempting to respond to Bishop Tim Harris' paper, in which he uses BCP 1662 as the theological lens for the discussion. In my posts, I have tried to maintain the use of this lens. [I note that on his own fb page in responding to comments, Tim slips between BCP 1662 and Tim's interpretation of the NT, giving the impression that these can simply be interchangeable - they cannot].

Your distinction, is very much where my attempts to get a discussion going started a decade and a half ago. People were using "Second Life" as a virtual world for all sorts of encounters. A cathedral was built there and people met there for worship. Questions arose: if your avatar was baptised in the virtual world, were you thereby baptised In Real Life? If communion was celebrated in the Second Life cathedral, did you receive In Real Life? What if you consumed bread and wine In Real Life as your avatar received it in the virtual world?

Sadly, fifteen years ago, the church generally was still struggling to come to terms with the visibility of the size of fonts on notice boards with the new invention of the motor-car driving past, and my discussions were mostly regarded as odd and quaint. Covid has dragged the church (screaming) into the third millennium.

Your distinction is helpful in separating a live zoom-like worship service from a watching-a-priest (recorded or live) type of service.

I would, first, be encouraging a community (on zoom) to pray together (eg. the Daily Office - as per a seminary, your example). We seem to have leaped straight from no online worship to Eucharist. Our current church culture that (nearly) every service be a Eucharist needs challenging - it is the jewel in the crown, but we have thrown away the crown (the Daily Office) that holds the jewel. I think that God, in the Covid world, is challenging the church to rediscover the Daily Office. The attempt to bypass that call and challenge by levering in Eucharist (inappropriately - we have no robust theological justification yet) may very well be missing the renewal that God is gifting us.



Jean said...

In respect to lay led church communities I wouldn’t have minded being under the leadership of C.S.Lewis.

I read the COE situation as one of, ‘with the lack of resources to provide the ministry we have done in the past’ (aka limited factors being the moolah required to maintain church buildings and afford payment for clergy with reduced congregation numbers) how now shall we move forward? Albeit I am not particularly a ‘numbers’ fan, such as so many new churches by said date - far too much like a business plan.

Father Ron said...

Dear Bosco, I read your contribution which which I am mostly in agreement excepting perhaps in your final paragraph at 9.11am, referring to the relative benefits of celebrating (Daily?) Eucharist as compared with the reading of the Daily Office:

"I would, first, be encouraging a community (on zoom) to pray together (eg. the Daily Office - as per a seminary, your example). We seem to have leaped straight from no online worship to Eucharist. Our current church culture that (nearly) every service be a Eucharist needs challenging - it is the jewel in the crown, but we have thrown away the crown (the Daily Office) that holds the jewel. I think that God, in the Covid world, is challenging the church to rediscover the Daily Office. The attempt to bypass that call and challenge by levering in Eucharist (inappropriately - we have no robust theological justification yet) may very well be missing the renewal that God is gifting us."

May I say that it took the Church of England a long time (and a Second World War) to realise that the Body of Christ needed more than the Daily Office, said or sung every Sunday in many of its church buildings. From this came the 'Parish Communion' movement, where every parish was urged to celebrate at least one Eucharist on Sundays. With the publication of what became know as The Parish Mass - with more modern formularies for celebration - there were often 2 Eucharist on Sundays (1 BCP H.C. at 7 o-clock and perhaps a more ritualises Solemn Mass at 10am). This was meant to replace the Solemn Morning Prayer; leaving Evening Prayer as the only 'Office' to be said or sung in the afternoon or evening. This movement was generally observed in most English parishes and seen as an improvement on the recital of M.P. as 'Food for the Journey' (theme of our next A.C.Hui).

As a parish priest here in New Zealand, my practice was to preside at a Eucharist every single day (exceopt when absent from the parish on holidays, when other clergy deputised) - not just because it had been of great comfort to me in the Franciscan Community, but because I (and the parish) felt that the Eucharist was the most important community worship we could both offer to God and enjoy for its spritual benefits for everyone participating. There was never an occasion when I was alone - there were always some parishioners (and sometimes visitors) who knew Mass was being celebrated and who wanted to be a part of it. (I remember a R.C. local who said he heard our bell ring every morning, and was pleased to know that some Anglicans were doing what was being done in his own parish church).

You mention the possibility of substituting the Daily Office for a Eucharistic Celebration - presumably in a parish setting? While this is a possibility in a Religious Community (and maybe in a setting like a boarding school assembly), you would realise that ordinary people in their daily lives have neither the time nor, often, the inclination to gather for a corporate recital of the Daily Office. I suspect that most lay-people, whose devotions are carried out more formally on a daily basis would probably prefer the more corporeal presence of Christ in the Daily Mass - rather then reciting the Office - which can bedone privately without complications.

When a member of SSF, of course, we had both the Daily Office and Daily Mass. But then our whole lives were dedicated to the worship of God - on a daily basis of both prayer and sacrament, which enabled us then to go out into the community for service of God and our neighbours. Most ordinary people are far too busy for such a complex daily round, BUT, I think they appreciate that some part of The Church is doing it on their behalf.

incidentally, I don't recall any scriptural reference to Jesus saying - specifically of the Daily Office - "Do this to remember me". What did say was: "S/he who eats my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day". - Blessings!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron,
But Jesus did say that None should live by bread alone but rather by the word of God, and set an example to his disciples by regularly withdrawing from the busyness of life to pray and to spend time with his Father.

Somewhat unfortunately for those longing for greater calendrical precision for their lives, the command, Do this in remembrance of me, came with no dates, days of the week or other chronological guidance :).

I appreciate very much the feeding on Christ the eucharist provides opportunity for, but I am mindful of the ambiguity of John 6: is it collectively a command to consume the bread which is the bread of life or an injunction to feed on Christ the bread of life through belief in him in the context of our mutual indwelling in the Spirit?

Unknown said...

Yes Bosco

Android somewhat privileges code optimized for phone screens over code originally written for desktop or laptop screens.

Until recently, this meant only that pages might fill less elegantly on my screen. But lately, the comment pages at ADU and Liturgy have been bumped off screen by one Google-fidget or another. There is then no way back to the typed comment to finish abd send.

The instability is not in your servers; it's in my phone. Which is to say that I should send this now before Google fidgets again.


Unknown said...

Of course, Google cannot fidget in apps. Let's explore that.

Suppose that + Peter has a chaplain somewhere for oh recent graduates working in or near Christchurch. They all have her app.

It shows each hour of the daily office on screen, and prompts members to pray it together. It enables them to chat among themselves with a facility similar to eg Slack.

That chat facility does a lot. It has profiles that let members introduce themselves as believers. It has a message board for chaplaincy news that usually includes the menu for the next dinner. It also distributes members' videos, crowdsourced sermons, All Blacks scores, etc.

The app knows the locations of members. Their phones ring or vibrate whenever other members are nearby.

When + Peter is preaching, a map shows where. When Ron + is celebrating mass, it summons a flash mob to join him, either at SMAA or online.

If the chaplain is visiting a patient, a prisoner, a shut-in, a museum, a beerhall, etc, she can summon members to join her, actually or virtually. Indeed, showing up here and there to pray with familiar faces in unfamiliar places is as close as the chaplaincy comes to having a program.

None of the members wants or really believes in telecommunion. On that, they all agree with their bishop. But they do pray along with the *prayers of the people*.

The app is sometimes used for confession. That is, a member wanting to confess sin to the chaplain may do so secretly through the app. Nobody has yet asked whether her assurance of pardon is the same as an absolution.

This would not be a Christchurch app if it were not loaded with an excellent Bible. The app recognises allusions to it in comments and automatically links to the text. It also gathers the members' notes on the lectionary for display in the margin, much as Amazon's Kindle gathers highlighting and notes from myriad readers of the same text. That permits members to meditate on scripture together in real time. And that has prompted the chaplain to experiment with a meditative online Office of Readings.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ron,

I was not at all discussing "the relative benefits" of celebrating Eucharist as compared with praying the Daily Office.

As has been repeatedly stressed, this discussion here and on my site is based on the paper by Bishop Tim Harris about people who are at home in lockdown because of Covid 19.

There is no suggestion in anything I have EVER written that I want to turn parish Sunday Eucharists back to some form of said Matins.

Jesus, as a Jew, clearly prayed the Jewish equivalent of the Daily Office, the framework out of which the Christian Daily Office evolved - the psalms were clearly integral to Jesus' prayer life.

I never "mentioned the possibility of substituting the Daily Office for a Eucharistic Celebration - presumably in a parish setting". I was indicating that, rather than Bishop Tim's suggestion of someone in lockdown consecrating bread and wine for themselves by sitting in front of a screen - possibly of a videorecording of a priest by him or herself - I think that God may be calling individuals stuck at home in lockdown to rediscover the discipline of the Daily Office.

I hope that clarifies the misunderstanding. I thought what I had written was perfectly clear.



Anonymous said...

Dear Bowman

I have often suggested the essence of the app you are designing.

Millennials and Generation Z head into town & then use the digital world to meet up and party. Previous generations would (need to) organise much more ahead of time.

I have often suggested that a priest head into church (say on a Friday evening) & then use the best technology available to say, "hey - I'm at church of St X, turn up within half an hour & we'll celebrate Eucharist together, I'll put on pizza after that, & then you can head out on the town after that."

Much more in your "flash-mob" concept.

Parties and gatherings are now much more in that "flash-mob" style, and I am unaware of ANY church or mission focus that lives in this Third Millennium style.



Father Ron said...

Dear Biahop Peter; you speak of the 'ambiuguity' of John 6. However, this may not be the only ambiguity in the writings of the Bible. When Jesus explained the nitty-gritty of his parables to the disciples, did he not infer that there were those destined to understand and those who would not be so disposed?

Regarding the Dominical reference to making Eucharist; Jesus indicated that, when we did this, we were re-membering him until he comes again. He set no calendar nor daily requirement (although one notices the N.T. reference to the daily 'breaking of the bread together with prayers' in the Early Church communities). One might ask a question here; are we free to contemplate whether these were occasions of a celebration of the Eucharist, or simply enjoyment of an agape breakfast meal? My speculation is that the specific context suggests an intentional making of the Eucharist together, in the expectation of a special presencing of Jesus among them (as he himself had indicated). Even Saint Paul affirmed this: "So often as you do this, you remember The Lord until he comes again". I value that promise.

Of course I could be wrong - together with most of the Catholic and Orthodox Christains around the world.

Unknown said...

Hi Bosco

In the 1990s, the RC Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio used pagers to summon flash mobs to masses around the city. The idea was to get people to pray together across parish, ethnic, and racial lines. That may still be the most visionary use of digital media that I have encountered.

What matters most, we are both trying to explain, are not the features of the gadget, but the ecclesiology driving the use of them. For all the sophistication of Zoom, telecommunion falls flat because its implicit ecclesiology is silly, almost dispiriting. On the other hand, crude pagers excited flash mob Catholics because they wanted to be more unified as a city and diocese.

As you know, my ecclesiology here on ADU is rather traditional. But just so, its roots are in the vibrant urban culture of late antique cities, with a nod to the medieval and Reformation practices that recovered urban life from about the C13. All the features if my imaginary app echo the ways people assembled and prayed in Antioch or Rome, Paris or Constantinople.

I still find all that inspiring and instructive, but others will have other inspirations. In the CoE, for instance, Andy Lord has been working up a charismatic ecclesiology for Anglicans for several years. His vision of a networked Communion also seems ripe for experimentation.

As with any other entrpreneurial venture, it is wise to start with a problem that needs a solution.



Unknown said...


When I mention *eucharist* hereabouts, I am referring to people assembled for the whole Judaic worship of praise and thanksgiving with Jesus as its present Focus because this is what YHWH has commanded them to do (cf Larry Hurtado). Because we are commanded to remember with the bread and cup, they are always in there, but they may not be handled in our stylized way, and just who receives communion how often can vary to extremes.

At one extreme, Orthodox celebrate the Divine Liturgy weekly, but layfolk have customarily received communion much more rarely. At most, in their *great church* (approximately = *cathedral*) on the twelve feasts, and after absolution for grave sins. Thereon hangs a tale.

A Greek priest's daughter learned frequent communion from her university's American Orthodox chaplain. When she returned home to summer, she continued this devotion in her father's parish, where her weekly reception scandalized all the gossiping grandmothers. How, they asked her mother, could this exemplary daughter be having so many abortions?

The bishop called her father to complain that it would be hard for him to marry a scandalous woman to a seminarian, even if her own parish eventually understood what she was doing. And anyway, what was she doing!? Hearing about the chaplain, the right reverend father said unspeakable things about Americans and their crazy religions.

In their island world, the parish norm is *corporate* fasting and communion. *Individual* communion is always the final step of a pastoral act such as a first wedding, an ordination, or absolution for eg murder, abortion, adultery, etc.


Father Ron said...

Dear Bowman, I'm amazed at your related story of a Greek Orthodox priest's daughter being questioned for her 'frequent' reception of the Eucharist. My own experience of Greek Orthodox worship - on various holidays on Greek Islands, has always been of (on Sundays and Feast Days at least) most of the congregation going up to receive the Eucharist when present at a parish Celebration.

My own personal experience (on the island of Hydra) includes being called up by the son of the priest (who knew that I was an Anglican priest) to sit behind the iconastasis at the Feast of the Holy Cross to be able to witness the significant action of the priest at the 'epiclesis'. I was not invited to receive the sacred elements, but I did receive - after the Eucharist - what was called the 'Blessed Bread' - a separately blessed loaf of bread given to people not yet authorised to receive the actual sacrament (I surmised that this was a form of 'Agape'). Afterwards, I was invited to share breakfast with the priest and his family. I had the distinct impression that the congregation were au fait with the practise of receiving Holy Communion whenever they were present at The Divine Liturgy.

Sorry, Bosco, for 'going on' about your comment. I realise now that you were specifically writing about how best to arrange for corporate worship over the Internet. However, while on this subject, I find myself relatively uninvolved, spiritually speaking, with so-called 'acts of worship' that are vicariously offered on the Internet. Perhaps I've been put off by American Prosperity Gospel preachers, whose prayerful exhortations are larded with pleas for financial help to support their prolific 'on-line' ministries.

I also have a problem with the prospect of a lonely figure in a dog collar, looking down at his Bible or Office Book to read the content of what he has to say in the way of prayers or exhortation with which he hopes to inspire the spiritual involvement of other people, whom he may neither know nor have a pastoral resposibility for. This smacks, to me, of a type of theatrical performance that may, or may not, interest a television audience not necessarily a gathered congregation intent on worship. The traditional Daily Office, if not carried out in an ordered community, is meant to be undertaken in one's cell, not exhibited over the Internet as an optional extra.

ZOOM meetings, in my own experience - and I must confess that is very limited - can be a source of frustration and unequal benefits to the people involved. I believe the Church of England's recent ZOOM General Synod was not an unqualified success, with many people feeling it was hardly 'mutual' and to some extent, the outcome seemed pre-determined!

The Internet has its uses - especially for families on SKYPE - but I do wonder about the spiritual benefits of 'On-Line Worship'. (But that's me, an old fuddy-duddy1)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ron -

but also: I think that I continue to be misunderstood by you.

I am not talking about "a lonely figure in a dog collar, looking down at his Bible or Office Book to read the content of what he has to say in the way of prayers or exhortation with which he hopes to inspire the spiritual involvement of other people".

This may be a description of what Bishop Timothy is suggesting in terms of consecrating bread and wine via a screen - but my comments and posts have been suggesting that this is not what God is inviting/challenging us to through Covid.

The whole point is that the Daily Office (I'm not sure what the word "traditional" does to "Daily Office" - as I've never used your adjective here, to my knowledge), the Daily Office does NOT require "a lonely figure in a dog collar" on a screen. The Daily Office is not a clergy-focused rite (or right!).

As people locked down because of Covid in their own homes grow in praying the Daily Office - "undertaken in one's cell" (to use your words) - we are part of the universal church praying as Christ to the Father.

I have written SO much about this so often, I am not sure how to write it in a different way that makes my point clearer. Maybe someone else, here, gets my point and can communicate it better.

That there might be a fruitful way of praying this together online might be a worthwhile discussion; yes, I have prayed fruitfully with others using Zoom - but that is not the primary thrust of my point(s) and might confuse rather than explicate, when my simple point appears to be in danger of further misunderstanding.



Unknown said...

"Just who receives communion how often can vary to extremes."

Dear Father Ron,

I can imagine a Greek priest vacationing in Christchurch, worshipping at SMAA, and enthusing to his friends back home that Anglican liturgies everywhere are as rich as their own. "Until I saw it with my own eyes, I would never have guessed that all these Protestants use incense!"

But if someone then described a service at oh Moore College, do you think that he too might be amazed? It might take more than a vacation for an outsider to understand Anglicanism.

Your vacation experience in Greece does not amaze me. Orthodoxy there is diverse and rather polarized.

Even ignoring the Traditionalist schismatics, one can find places in the canonical Church of Greece that maintain centuries old local traditions of improvised chant (eg Thessaloniki, especially St Demetrius's) and also places that respond as best they can to contemporary currents (eg Athens, especially near the Plaka). The tradition- innovation tension is universal in human culture.

But again, the point of my Usage Note is to be understood. When I say *eucharist* hereabouts, I am talking about an act of the Body, not assuming anything at all about the piety of individual reception.


Unknown said...

Bosco, did you see this coming? I didn't.