Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Opinion - 29 November 2017

Ian Paul Psephizo What is going wrong with theological education?

Kelvin Holdsworth Inclusive Language and Politeness

Pisky.Scot Independence, Boldness, and Persistence: The Rev Canon Dr Chuck Robertson reflects on the links between TEC and the SEC

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 10:13am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Re Kelvin Holdsworth, "We shouldn’t use inclusive language just because it seems right and certainly not just because we are told to use it. We should use it because it is a matter of politeness."

Holdsworth's view of inclusive language is very superficial by this reckoning. Inclusive language is not about being polite. First, justice often requires dropping socially polite pretensions. Second, politeness can often be manipulative. Canadians, for example, are often described and/or we describe ourselves as, 'polite". The politeness is often passive aggressive. One can also look at the use of courtesy and politeness in conversation in the Southern States in terms of language use and social compliance. Even for a polite Canadian it jumps out at you.

Inclusive language is not about manners. It is about visibility versus invisibility. Who is seen, who is acknowledged as being present, who is just not visible in this group even though they are present, who's world and experience is represented in our mythology, metaphors, indeed in our metaphysics.

When we shape our liturgies to articulate visibility, we are are building up community. We are not simply extending a courtesy. We should leave that to the concierge.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 3:54pm GMT

As so often, I feel grateful for Kevin's comments: this week, on inclusive language. I agree, that it boils down to thoughtfulness, kindness, respect.

I guess, as a transgender female, I'm pretty sensitive to the ways careless language can erase or strip dignity from your identity.

I feel the same way about gender in worship, liturgy, and public prayer. While I accept, pragmatically, that God is traditionally presented more often as 'Father' and 'He' and 'Lord' - and I can go along with that to an extent because I 'get' that it works for a lot of people - nevertheless, reciprocally, I feel people should understand that acknowledgment of the feminine in God and use of female terms is also reasonable and (in my view) highly desirable.

I have a problem with certain words. For 'Kingdom', I prefer something like 'sovereign country'. For 'Lord' I prefer 'Holy One' or 'Sovereign One'. And I see no reason why God should not be referred to as 'She' just as often as 'He'.

Indeed, I much prefer the spelling 'Godde' as a midway expression of the traditionally male term 'God' and the traditionally female term 'Goddess' (for without doubt, at times, I encounter her as my Christian Goddess). Yet we're kind of stuck with the spelling 'God' even though that has masculine and patriarchal connotations. Whereas, for some people, it is far from helpful to conceive and express relationship with someone masculine and in charge.

In truth, Godde understands, feels, and expresses everything it is to be female and everything it is to be male, and additionally transcends them both, yet still retaining the qualities of both.

There is so much about Godde that resonates with female nature. And She can be such a delight and brave fearsome Mother.

Male and female, we are made in Godde's image. Inclusive language can redress historic imbalances implicit in patriarchal religious communities, and open our imaginations and hearts to more of the eternal one who lives and reigns for ever.

The term 'Man' as a generic for all of our species is itself a leftover of an age and society when men believed in a priority status and entitlement, heads of their households, leaders of their communities - a patriarchy reflected in some but by no means all of the writing attributed to Paul. It's out of place in our own society and culture.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 4:01pm GMT

Ian Paul says a lot about the context of ordination training, about college finances and colleges vis a vis non-residential courses. He doesn't appear to say very much about the *content*, and in particular the balance between formal biblical and theological instruction, informal sharing and discussion, and most importantly, the establishing of a solid discipline of prayer and liturgical formation, as part of a living and worshipping community. Having been trained more years ago than I care to remember, in a very traditional college, what I am most grateful for is the latter. Regular worship in the daily office and eucharist and time set aside for contemplative/meditative prayer is at the heart of the priestly life. I wonder quite how people being trained on the many non-residential courses are now being formed in this way, and if not how? That is the heart of theology.

Posted by: David Emmott on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 6:03pm GMT

My own little religious life is founded on and framed by the daily disciplines of convent and its community. I have to agree with David: the daily routine of early morning prayer and contemplation, the offices, and time for lectio divina, along with mass/eucharist together - surely these are fundamentals for an aspirant setting out on ministry? A way of life as the priority, without which all the skills in the world may not be properly anchored.

I was wondering on course content myself, as I read Ian's call for some standardisation of theological training.

There is so much to be learnt from monastic witness and tradition. Spiritual life begins and ends in prayer and community.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 6:50pm GMT

David Emmott, you seem to assume that non-residential training does not have contemplative prayer and the daily office at its heart. Many of us could not train full time in residential courses and we would not be accepted anyway as being over the age our diocese is prepared to invest in. However, it is contemplative prayer that has brought many of us to this point and our well established prayer practice and spiritual life is shared with our colleagues and our very different lives contribute greatly to our spiritual journey together.

Posted by: not flourishinghighchurchwoman on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 10:52pm GMT

The label 'non-residential' is no longer used by many courses. Our preferred label is part residential because we think the residential component is essential for reasons of formation.

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 at 11:28pm GMT

Kelvin's heart is in the right place and his intentions are very good, but to a certain extent he is swimming against the tide. Women have reclaimed words like actor, sailor, soldier - even minister - which were historically gendered and made them gender-inclusive. 'Mankind', I would argue is already, or is close to being, gender-inclusive too. In avoiding and replacing terms which have historically been gendered, he denies and hinders that process of reclamation.

As I say, his intentions cannot be faulted, but I question whether he is really best serving the interests of equality, of women, in the course he has chosen to follow.

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 5:06am GMT

I read David's comments as a critique of Ian's article on the 'content' of ministerial education and not on whether full time or part time students are more or less likely to engage with the essential and formational spiritual practices. All training for ministry should provide the space for the practical, the academic and the formational.

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 7:43am GMT

Re Kate, "Women have reclaimed words like actor, ...[ etc.] made them gender-inclusive."

This is correct. This has been one aspect of making language inclusive. Interesting that in the U.S. the word "actress" is used by show biz. Whereas in Canada the term 'actor' is generally preferred for both men and women. Unfortunately Kate's argument became inconsistent with the comment about 'mankind'. It's a bit of sheep's clothing argument.

Kelvin's heart is not just in the right place. He is giving leadership in doing the right thing for a community of faith. My only critique is with regard the rationale for the need for change. It is about justice and power and not Miss manners.

See the link to a Lutheran liturgical article:

"Language has power. It transmits not only facts and ideas, but emotions and values. Skillful writers and speakers have always had the power to affect people's attitudes, influence their actions, and shape their inner views of the world and it"s peoples."

Happy St. Andrew's Day.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 12:26pm GMT

Rod: "Happy St Andrew's Day"

Indeed - I have the haggis, neeps and tatties on the go.

And the Talisker to accompany.

I always love November 30th :)

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 4:29pm GMT

Ministerial stegosaurus speaks (small brained, thick-skinned).

I hear of courses where the biblical element's been squeezed down to 20 hours of lectures and two assignments. Now I realise that (regrettably) a working knowledge of Coptic is no longer a feature of most of the sits. vac. in the Church Times, but wonder whether enough time's given to encountering the fundamental strangeness of the biblical text. I recall finding so much of the material alien in language and thought-form, and I like to think it made me cautious about reading off from the texts that which chimed in with my take on the universe.

Are we becoming so unfamiliar with the biblical stuff that we're starting think it's clear and accessible? That Isaiah really talked about virgins because the NIV says so? Even (and I heard this from a second year ordinand) that the God of the NT is a god of grace, whereas the one in the OT is a god of vengeance?

Any thoughts? Or am I just an elitist old grump who needs to get out on his pastoral cycle?

Posted by: David Rowett on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 5:35pm GMT

As someone involved in theological education/development either side of ordained/authorised ministry an additional concern regarding the space given to study of scripture in training is how much less knowledge of the bible people are starting courses with. They are starting from much further back than previous generations. In my tutorial group morning prayers at a theological college a few years ago the student asked to read the OT lectionary reading from Deuteronomy was spotted looking for 'Deuteronomy' in his Bible index.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 7:07pm GMT

On training for those of us doing one evening a week on the certificate course. We did introductions to: Church History, Christian Ethics, Spirituality, Theological Reflection, Old Testament and New Testament. Those of us doing it for fun also got a self directed project. The diploma course is currently thrashing its way through Bible in Context (Isaiah and Mark), So I reckon we've had quite a lot of scripture so far, but without having to learn Hebrew or Aramaic. The academic content is rigorous but rooted in what is needed for modern ministry - and that means finding out how to demystify Biblical texts so we can understand them first.
For those in ordination training there are plenty of residential weekends that involve prayer and liturgy. The rest of us manage it as part of our daily lives with morning prayer being said at 5am for some of us.

Posted by: Lavinia Nelder on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 7:43pm GMT

" Regular worship in the daily office and eucharist and time set aside for contemplative/meditative prayer is at the heart of the priestly life. I wonder quite how people being trained on the many non-residential courses are now being formed in this way, and if not how? That is the heart of theology." David Emmet -

Well, David, with the new emphasis on 'Bums on Seats' and administrative efficiency these valuable elements - prayer and liturgical worship - would seem to have been left behind, to the lasting detriment of formation in activities that were once basic to a priestly calling.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 10:42pm GMT

Canon Chuck Robertson's article on the connection between SEC and TEC outlines the critical factor of the ordination of the first TEC (PECUSA) Bishop by Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC).

The circumstances of this founding relationship after the American War of Independence - when it was considered undiplomatic for the Church of England to provide episcopal leadership for an independent ex-Colonial Church - provide a basic platform for the independence of both Churches from governing rule by the Church of England.

Perhaps this is why both TEC and SEC are able to avoid the tension present within the C. of E. at the prospect of providing Equal Marriage blessing and acceptance of the legal S/S Marriage status.

This situation further highlights the reality that each Anglican Church is legally independent of rule by the Church of England. Because of having their own canonical and synodical rules; each national Church - though voluntarily related to each other the 'bonds of friendship' in the Anglican Communion - has a prior responsibility to its own canonical rules and regulations.

Theological koinonia implies the need for each party to respect the others in their relationship

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 30 November 2017 at 11:02pm GMT

Siblings responding to Kelvin: I think we get distracted if we don't recognize that he's not writing to those of us who recognize the importance of inclusion, including in language. He's writing to (or at least about) those who understand "politically correct" as a derogatory and dismissive phrase. "Polite" may not seem the most potent word; but, then, we hardly use the word "politic" as an adjective these days. The point becomes, then, why would you want to use language in a way that brings pain to your sibling (whether in Christ or as a citizen)? Yet that is what those who decry the "politically correct" want to defend. They want, indeed, to be "impolitic:" separating others from themselves and from the body politic. We call on them to be "politic:" including themselves and others in the body politic. Sadly, "polite" is as close as we come to "politic" these days; but "polite" still enables us to ask them that question: why do you want to separate folks within the body?

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Friday, 1 December 2017 at 8:26pm GMT

Re Marshal Scott, "...we get distracted ...he's not writing to those of us who recognize the importance of inclusion ... He's writing to (or at least about) those who understand 'politically correct' as a derogatory and dismissive phrase"

I get what you saying about audience as a possible key to hermeneutic; but If your theory is correct, then Kelvin Holdsworth may be missing an opportunity raise the consciousness of his audience.

However, I wonder if you are not overthinking it? Notice his premise: "Inclusive language in church seems to attract a huge amount of comment but it is really mostly a question of politeness."

Note his penultimate conclusion:"We should use [inclusive language] because it is a matter of politeness.

So, citizen Scott, I think it is Occam's razor. ( :

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 2 December 2017 at 3:04am GMT

"it was considered undiplomatic."

It was illegal. One had to take an oath to the crown. A law needed to be passed and in time it was. Then the new TEC Bishops--from PA and NY--were consecrated in the CofE. Not the SEC.

(I would also wonder whether the 1549 language is robustly epiclesis language, as per Robertson's essay. I thought the non jurors got that robust idea from the Orthodox).

Posted by: CRS on Saturday, 2 December 2017 at 4:07am GMT

At the risk of sounding excessively English, I wonder what exactly is wrong with 'politeness'? Politeness is not simply a matter of using the right fork and addressing an archdeacon correctly at high table. Politeness means the thoughtful recognition of another person's humanity in everyday social discourse. It means consideration for another's feelings and imaginative identification with their situation. It is the very practical application of all those great big vague abstractions that get thrown around endlessly: justice, equality, and so on.

There is much to be said for politeness, not just as the lubricant to social interactions but as a way of living. The erosion of politeness - of manners, if you like - through mass-media and social networking is nothing less than the erosion of our ability to identify with the other person without trying to efface their otherness.

That is why I will grit my teeth and bear it as the words of all the lovely old hymns are defaced in the interests of 'inclusive language'; because I have a courteous appreciation for another person's sense of exclusion, much as I would hope that they can politely acknowledge my love of the poetry and the profundity of the old unfashionable words.

Posted by: rjb on Saturday, 2 December 2017 at 7:18am GMT

rjb, I agree with you about the high value of politeness, but not as an etiquette to maintain a status quo and hierarchy in a position of assumed power and entitlement.

"Politeness is not simply a matter of using the right fork and addressing an archdeacon correctly at high table."

I should hope not. It matters not a jot what fork you use, and I should address an archdeacon exactly the same way I would address anyone else, whether the Archbishop of Canterbury or the waitress bringing the food to the table.

Justin should be sufficient. People who object to being called by their first name are unbearably stuffy and pompous. We are all simply humans.

But kindness and politeness - yes. As one human being to another, looking for who they are inside, to connect and be friendly, respecting them for their human values, not for their titles.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 2 December 2017 at 12:50pm GMT

Re rjb, what is wrong with politeness? One has to remember that it is a social convention. It is superficial. Polite discourse can be a way of buttressing a social stratification.

I have attached a link to an article by David Remnick in The New Yorker, Blood at the Root, a letter from Charleston and the Emanuel nine. You would have to read the entire article to have the context for the citation below.

“You have a city infected with raging politeness, relentlessly courteous to the point that no one’s doing much of anything, ...This courtesy is hardwired into the American South, but it’s hypocritical. It’s a tradition draped in the antebellum lost-cause stuff, the old Southern chivalrous tradition, and it depends on an African-American population that has to go along to get along.”

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 2 December 2017 at 3:40pm GMT

The article, Independence, Boldness, Persistence is a lovely although a somewhat romantic read. The historical link between Scotland and the States with consecration of Samuel Seabury is a watershed. One could continue in the Anglican tradition without being a member of the C of E. How ironic he was originally a loyalist.

The Canadian liturgical tradition was influenced by both the Scottish Prayer Book and the old 1928 American BCP, especially with regard to the prayer of consecration in Canada's 1959 BCP.
Economic ties between Scotland and the British Colonies was very important. The American revolution, though often wrapped in Enlightenment politcal rhetoric, was an armed rebellion launched in part by a wealthy land owning and slave owning white male gentry against a constitutional monarchy in order to keep a much bigger piece of the Imperial pie.

The economic links between Scotland and the colonies was the African slave trade outbound and tobacco inbound. Glasgow merchants were not happy with the handling of the colonial rebellion by George III who must surely be one of the great bunglers of Anglo-American history.

And of course the Union of 1707 was still recent history.

In parsing arcane details from that period, it helps to look at the macro picture.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 2 December 2017 at 4:40pm GMT

"somewhat romantic read."

Romantic indeed.

Seabury was ardently loyalist. He wanted to be consecrated in the CofE and only went north for reasons of necessity.

When White and Provoost were eventually elected to be Bishops, along with the candidate from VA who abstained, they went not to the SEC but to the CofE and were consecrated.

Assurances were given by letter *from Seabury to the CofE* that the new Episcopal Church would conform to the standards of the CofE on creeds, authority of bishops vis-a-vis laity, etc.

There are some very good histories of the SEC available. Seabury was virtually unknown in the history of the SEC until the 20th century, when in need of US financial support he reemerged as a fund-raising figure. Then the stock market tanked ...

Posted by: CRS on Sunday, 3 December 2017 at 8:26am GMT

RE crs, "Seabury... wanted to be consecrated in the CofE and only went north for reasons of necessity."

Natural enough as a loyalist;but the turn of history is that he went to Scotland which resulted in a legacy--liturgy among them.

I can't comment on your "fund raising" comment. Don't know much about that actually.

American liturgist Massey Shepherd (The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary) notes that with regard to the proposed 1785 Prayer Book Seabury was among several New England churchman hostile to it. Shepherd also notes with regard to the 1789 book: " Its most significant change from the English Book was the adoption of the Consecration Prayer of the Scottish Communion Service through the efforts of Bishop Seabury." (p. xx)

Marion Hatchett has a fuller and candid treatment (Commentary on the American Prayer Book) referencing Seabury and "the political and personal enmities" of the time. ( pp. 8-10)

Just as Americans romanticize the founding fathers, Canadians treat the United Empire Loyalists likewise. The loyalists built many of our democratic and educational institutions; but they are the source of the "family compact" which impacted Canada until the 20th century--haunting us socially still.

Bishop John Strachan, interestingly an immigrant from Aberdeen, Scotland, became embedded in the family compact/chateau clique ethos of Ontario.

Our Communion is still emerging from colonialism. Although not delivered from on high like the new Jerusalem, it is important to celebrate its achievements including those of Seabury who seems to have overcome his own visceral politcal state in making his contribution.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Sunday, 3 December 2017 at 3:12pm GMT

If memory serves, Seabury booked return passage to Halifax due to Nova Scotia's reputation as a Tory redoubt, as he was concerned about re-entry into the States given his consecration as Bishop -- an office virtually synonymous at the time with royalist claims.

The epiclesis via SEC communion rite is everywhere an undoubted fact. At issue in my comment had to do with whether this was rooted in the 1549, as Robertson avers, or rather in the Orthodox liturgy. He makes it sound like it was an anti CofE move. I doubt that. Especially given subsequent concerns contra White and Provoost for continuity with the CofE in creeds and Episcopal polity, in Seabury's efforts at the founding of PECUSA.

This isn't about romaticising origins but in identifying the diverse roots of PECUSA given the different emphases of White and Provoost (with VA) over against Seabury. Compromises had to be made and they were. To invent a SEC-TEC pure strain offends against Seabury's own concerns and misunderstands the deeply protestant/revolutionary instincts of White and others, for whom Seabury was a perceived outlier. The dust settled in time, largely due to the statesmanship of White. He was the first PB for a reason.

Posted by: CRS on Monday, 4 December 2017 at 9:40am GMT

Re crs, "[epiclesis] ...was rooted in the 1549, as Robertson avers, or rather in the Orthodox liturgy." You and Canon Robertson are both correct. There was an epiclesis in 1549. How 'robust' it was comparatively is a matter of opinion. Robertson's concise comment in his paragraph 5 quite clearly links the American epiclesis to The Scottish liturgy. I don't read him as saying it was "rooted" in 1549.

Both Cranmer in producing 1549 and the non-Jurors were influenced by Eastern rites. If there are copies of Shepherd and Hatchett at hand see the former on pages 75 and 81 and the latter on pages 356 ff.

"He makes it sound like it was an anti CofE move" I don't see what you do in his article. It's the kind of feel good piece one expects on such an occasion.

Regarding your final paragraph, I think Massey Shepherd puts it well: " Its most significant change from the English Book was the adoption of the Consecration Prayer of the Scottish Communion service, through the efforts of Bishop Seabury;and thus there was united in the liturgy of the American church two streams of Anglican tradition, the English and the Scottish, in a way parallel and comparable to the fusion of these two streams in its Episcopal succession." (p. xx)

Good for Robertson for highlighting one of those streams as a helpful mirror to hold up in present circumstances.

As for Halifax the 'tory redoubt', Nova Scotia received about thirty thousand Loyalists fleeing revolutionary America. Not often recalled are the major transportation, trade and cultural links existing between New England and Nova Scotia for over a century and a half. In fact, the Nova Scotia colonial government tried to keep the war of 1812 as cool as possible because of the negative economic impact on their economy.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 4 December 2017 at 4:05pm GMT

"highlighting one of those streams"

That is very generous. I thought his more obvious point was "there is one stream." SEC to TEC.

Nothing you write here changes that.

The Robertson clan is McDonnaich, renamed by the English to 'Son of Robert' after the defeat at Blair Athol. My mother's family are McConnaghays, buried in Calvin.

Our friend Robertson is zealous for "one stream" SEC-to-TEC. In that he misrepresents Samuel Seabury and his place in the origins of PECUSA.

Peaceful night in Canada, the true North strong and free.

Posted by: CRS on Monday, 4 December 2017 at 5:39pm GMT

Re crs, Gillis is a sept of Clan McPherson.Son the parson I'm told; 'Touch not the cat but a glove'. However,I prefer the Cape Breton Tartan. Slainte!

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 4 December 2017 at 8:46pm GMT

Inclusive Language and Politeness ?

Bishop feels entitled rudely to attack private citizens garden crib --- people he doesn’t even know !

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Friday, 8 December 2017 at 7:17pm GMT
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