Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Makes Worship Fun

A phrase often used in advertising educational toys for children is "makes learning fun!" This makes my blood boil. Learning is inherently fun, its only when learning is forced unwanted on people that it becomes a drudgery. Having to put the fun back in learning tells me that something went very wrong somewhere.

I was at an adult education lecture at my church a few weeks ago and the topic was the communion services in the Book of Common Prayer. Oh, oh, bad joke in my head. Why doesn't the Catholic Church use the Book of Common Prayer? Because the initials are the same as birth control pills. I said it was a bad joke. Anyway, the Book of Common Prayer contains the services used by the Episcopal church, along with prayers and other documents.

I took some notes on the history and theology of the services -- frankly, I found the lecture a little dull (hence the title of this post). At some point, my thoughts took over from the notes I was taking on the lecture. I have the question "does Orthodoxy work?" I'm willing to bet this was not what the lecturer was saying. I was wondering if the church is accomplishing what the Bible set forth as its purpose. With him I am well pleased. Does this apply to the Church today?

The lecturer discussed the theology imbedded in the BCP. She said that the authors were motivated to set forth some uniformity because of the profusion of movements during the Reformation; there was a florid view of what was permissive in the Christian church and the Reformers were trying to stop it. The problem was one with the doctrine, not the practice. The corruption was in the teaching and the uniform prayer had a specific form to fix this.

If this sounds stilted and unclear, its because it is -- I should have typed up my notes and thoughts soon after I heard the lecture. I didn't and I post this stuff just to see if it sparks a discussion. Call me Sparky.


david said...

Being an aficiando of early Quaker writings I can testify for the other side.

There is all sorts of Quaker tracts from about 300-350 years ago condmening the BCP. The issue isn't so much the theology in the BCP per se as the theology implicit in writing a BCP in the 1st place. Its like some church committee saying -- here now -- if everybody just prayed the same prayers at the same time we'd all be good Christians that's right. Quakes didn't like people telling the Holy Spirit when to act.

Marjorie said...

Yeah, I think its interesting that they wanted to reform the Catholic church but didn't want too much reformation, 'let's not get too carried away' they seem to say.

I can see the importance of having the BCP for someone who felt they needed something to hold onto when they weren't sure what they were doing. For instance, when I don't know what to pray, there are all kinds of ready made prayers. It feels like rails for a train --the rails are helpful to keep you on the track if you're afraid of falling off, but they also keep you on the track and limit your freedoms (at least thats one way of looking at it).

I'm very interested in the Quaker view, but at times it seems to me like its 'look Ma, no hands!' Its wonderfully liberating but absolutely terrifying. But thats just an outsider's view looking in. I have no idea how it really works. Thats why I'm reading YOUR blog (and Larry's and Ken's...)

david said...

The core Quaker mistake:

They wanted to get rid of all dead forms. They did not realise that waiting together in silence is also a form. Forms are either dead nor live but helpful or not helpful, used by God and those who serve him or not. So silence too can become a dead form.

But yes, there is a little of the tightrope walk without the safety net to it. One thing you don't see in Quakerism -- at least in the non-pastoral form I belong to -- is folks hiring a pastor and expecting them to do their praying for them. In Quakerism if it needs doing you either do it yourself you you do it together. Taht is both a strength and a liability.