Once again, a provocative comment by one of our readers leads to its own post.
Josh Magda commented on Derek Olsen’s Daily Episcopalian piece on what’s “Non-negotiable.”
To me, the prayer book is the first thing that can and must be negotiated.
It is killing the church in many ways.
For starters, my generation has shifted its emphasis away from wordiness of
past generations to images and other visual media and experiences,
including in worship. The worship of fundamentalist churches is what brings
young people in by creating a pseudo-mystical experience. People are hungry
for God and looking down at a book, looking at the back of other people’s
necks and being read at is failing as a worship medium for many people.
There are many other worship resources in the spirit of Anglicanism, which
could include some elements from the BCP but must move beyond it, but these
resources are not there because we haven’t created them yet. They are
waiting to be birthed.
Secondly and just as importantly, the language of the prayer book reflects
a very particular theology and approach to God, emphasizing distance, God
up in the sky, Jesus’ blood, Almighty-father-heavenly-king, etc… all
models which have become inoperative for many of us. I feel like I am going
into the court of a king when I go into a high church Anglican service, and
this is only one historical way of imaging God. We must vastly expand the
language of the next prayer book to facilitate a much expanded encounter
with God, using some of the many, many, other names for God in the Bible,
emphasizing Love more than power, and for God’s sake, including the Divine
Feminine in our language, which would have a tremendously healing effect
for both men and women and launch us more quickly into God’s future.
The prayer book is always a touchy subject: how do you respond to Josh’s observations?
(And, thanks to Josh for raising another topic!)