Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 2 December 2023

Neil Elliot NumbersMatters Census taking – sacred and dangerous?

Bosco Peters Liturgy Are We Letting Worship Shape Us?

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Kate Keates
Kate Keates
6 months ago

There’s a intriguing question, a meta question if you like, behind Elliot’s piece. Is he trying to wring meaning from the Bible beyond it’s intention? As a statistician is he seeing meaning to match his own interests, or was the meaning he sees intended by the authors of the Bible and/or God (depending on your perspective). It made me stop to consider. What level of meaning are we supposed to take from the Bible? It’s not a question I have seen asked but perhaps asking it can help with some of the squabbles because there is a spectrum between just… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Kate Keates
Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
6 months ago

Thank you Neil for your insight on census taking. Census data can be deceiving as well. The 2021 Canadian census indicates that there are about 197,000 adherents within the boundaries of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. However, less that 10% attend on a weekly basis. The data collected has its limitations in that I believe the wrong question is being asked. It’s really easy to park ones self under a certain heading, but it fails to give a true picture (accepted within the context of analyzing a trend). More precise language is necessary to determine levels of actual observance and… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
6 months ago

I tried one comment but I was on public WiFi and a VPN (wouldn’t use public WiFi without one) so it was flagged as spam. Rather than ask to have that resurrected, I will try again. For me suggesting that the Bible has specific things to say about census taking misunderstands the Bible. It reduces it to a detailed instruction manual for life. It’s where we get the prohibition of clothes with mixed fibres (hello – have you tried shopping for clothes without elastic fibres, zips etc), women speaking in church and the negativity around modern, loving, committed same sex… Read more »

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

Is thou shall not kill a broad theme? I hope not. It’s very specific. Is go and sin no more a broad theme? I think there is a serious risk in suggesting that the bible is just some book with quaint ideas. That book that you talk about with broad themes is about a love story between God and the people he chose to have a relationship with. Indeed, evaluate scripture in the context it was written, but don’t negate its teachings by suggesting they are broad. Many of us do believe that the bible holds all things necessary for… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
6 months ago

And yet “Thou shalt not kill” is far from straightforward. There are many in the Church of England who exclude war from the prohibition. Personally I also believe in end of life euthanasia for those who want it because their quality of life is so awful. And few question that it can be appropriate to shoot and kill a suicide bomber to save the lives of dozens of people. While presented as an absolute, in today’s complex society the commandment requires us to make moral judgements depending on circumstances. Moreover, “thou shalt not kill” is anyway just a particular instance… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

Am I right that the original Hebrew, as I’ve heard, more accurately translates as ‘murder’? That’s rather different to stopping a suicide bomber – although I do know Christians who would baulk even at that. And, allegedly, God sanctioned an awful lot of killing to give the Israelites the promised land. Some Christian folks are quite happy with that too – but I doubt many of them live in Gaza. Being a state church, as you say, has always made things a bit problematic for the CofE on the subject of ‘just war’. Our buildings have become repositories for old… Read more »

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

Kate, I think you’ve proven my point. Objectively, killing is not good and God commands us to avoid it. Any reasonable person would deplore the idea of savagely invading another country or attacking another person and their possessions, but in the interest of self defense, force to subdue the attacker might lead to death. And this is unfortunate. The fact that the attacker died is not a cause for celebration as all life is precious. Unfortunately, many Christians have sought to conform the values of pluralism with that of scripture, when it should be the other way around. Much of… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

Kate Keates: “For me the Bible is about broad themes and then applying them to life in all it’s complexity”, that part of your comment called to mind a book I picked up a few months ago titled, Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics by Samuel Wells. ( Indeed you may already know of it).Hard to tell for sure from your comment; but I think you might find it engaging. I’m not completely at home with Wells’ approach because his influences would be different from mine. However, I found it interesting, refreshing, quite practical at some levels. I’ve set it… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
6 months ago

Didn’t Jesus tell us to go into all the world with his message? If there is a sizable unengaged majority, perhaps we need to start doing something about reaching them? And, in this day and age, that probably means going outside the ‘saltshaker’ to reach them, rather than expecting them to come to us.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  John Davies
6 months ago

Minor point, I know, but I had never heard the use of the word “saltshaker” to refer to a church (building, denomination, etc.). Maybe its because I come from a non-Christian background. So I had to look it up. Jesus of Nazareth said “you are the salt of the Earth”, hence “saltshaker”. Bravo and thank you. As far as I’m concerned, Christians have gone to the ends of the Earth to convert peoples — with mixed results, both for Christianity and the native peoples being converted. In the instance of the CofE, there is an “unengaged majority” in the UK.… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
6 months ago

I think that use of the term may have originated with a book about evangelism written by Rebecca Manley Pippert: ‘Out of the Saltshaker.’ At least, that’s where I first ran across it – maybe in the 1980s?

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Morning, Tim. Yes you and I are thinking of the same book. Its just that you remembered who wrote it! And you’re right as to the date, too.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
6 months ago

Morning, Peter. Am I right that you’re from a Jewish background? If so, shalom; you’re actually the only Jewish person I know to chat to on a regular basis. I found the term ‘saltshaker’ a good many years ago as part of a book’s title, “Out of the Saltshaker’ – can’t remember who wrote it – which was essentially trying to get the evangelical churches out of their ‘laager’ mentality. We’re the salt, but what good are we if shut up in our safe little containers? (Church denominations, buildings or ghettos) Salt is only good if it’s used, that’s what… Read more »

John Wall
6 months ago

On Bosco Peters’ comments on the Psalter, if he is missing the reading of the Psalms, he needs to check with whomever is responsible for organizing worship in his parish. The New Zealand BCP provides readings from the Psalms for all services of the Eucharist plus Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer. In fact, the New Zealand BCP like the American Church’s BCP 1979, by expanding rites for the Daily Offices from 2 (Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer) to 4 (with the addition of Midday and Night Prayer) has in fact increased opportunities for use of the… Read more »

David Chillman
David Chillman
Reply to  John Wall
6 months ago

Surely the point of Bosco’s article is not about one parish church but about Anglican worship in general. How many churches still have a psalm as part of their regular liturgy? My experience of C of E parishes suggests that very few include the psalm, even if they follow the lectionary. And of course there are a growing number of parishes that ignore the lectionary altogether.

Saying/singing/chanting the psalm is an increasingly rare experience. Does that impoverish our worship? I suspect it does.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  David Chillman
6 months ago

As a Canadian Anglican who visits England on a regular basis, the absence of psalms in Sunday morning worship at most C of E churches I have attended stands out like a sore thumb.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

A denial of our humanity, Tim. We can’t constantly live in Alleluia time, but where else do we go to for the language of lament, to give voice to our darker thoughts, to express sadness without it being made to feel like failure? The ASB 1980 gave the C of E a modern language eucharistic rite, but with a dryish psalter which achieved accuracy at some loss of poetry and never really caught on. The Common Worship psalter is less prosaic and works well when used antiphonally at the offices, but for a responsorial psalm at the Eucharist I feel… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Allan Sheath
6 months ago

The BAS/1979 BCP psalter is excellent. Although in our BAS version, I miss the capitalisation of ‘LORD’ for YHWH. I believe the 1979 American BCP retains this.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

I like the BAS Psalter. When I was in parish ministry we would sing the psalm weekly at Eucharist using the psalm appointed in the RCL, settings by George Black. Daily I sometimes supplement the BAS psalm with a reading in Hebrew ( my Hebrew is pretty basic and usually ‘guided’). When I do, I read Adoni for Yahweh. The Anglican Church of Canada has produced a gender neutral psalter (link). It is a good idea to read the opening rubrics to get the rationale (below link). Every once and a while I like to read or listen to recordings… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

A slight digression, if I may. Some decades ago I joined a pilgrimage to Israel and bought a psalter with Hebrew text and English translations facing on opposite pages; the Hebrew read right to left, of course. This was, I am certain, a local Jewish publication (no sign of a known publisher). I was surprised, perhaps I should not have been, to find how closely the translation was to the familiar KJV and C of E BCP. On that same visit, we went to a synagogue in a remote place in the north west of Israel and I got into… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Very interesting indeed. Since my days as a divinity student assigned to our local cathedral, I have loved listening to the BCP psalms set to Anglican chant. There ain’t no other sound like it. Thank heavens for pristine vinyl. With regard to the masculine language, the gender neutral language of the Psalter I referenced above is largely in terms of the perspective of person praying the psalms. For example Psalm 22 ( the versification in my examples varies) reads “I will declare your name to my kindred; * in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” The BCP… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

On revisiting the BAS psalter (in the guise of Celebrating Common Prayer) I realised as if for the first time how fine a psalter it is, and how readily it lends itself not only to the offices but also to being sung responsorially. I’ve looked at just two psalms in the emended inclusive version (for which thanks, Rod): 22 and 130. In Ps 22, ‘I will declare your name to my kindred’ replaces the ‘brethren’ of the BAS and is surely an improvement on the somewhat lame ‘people’ of CCP. In Ps 130, ‘more than the sentinels for the morning’… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Allan Sheath
6 months ago

I agree. I think ‘night watch’ is preferable. That version of Psalm 130 is used in the office for: Saturday Night-Advent, The coming One in The Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer by David Adam.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Allan Sheath
6 months ago

I agree. I have always thought the 1979 Episcopal BCP psalter is superior ( and I think more easily chantable) than the one in Common Worship.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Perry Butler
6 months ago

Particularly as we already had this psalter in the popular office book, Celebrating Common Prayer – a collaboration between the Society of St Francis and some members of the liturgical commission.

Did an inflated idea of our importance cause us to do our own thing, not only with the psalter but also in departing from the ecumenically received Revised Common Lectionary at certain times?

John N Wall
John N Wall
Reply to  David Chillman
6 months ago

In my experience in the Episcopal Church (USA), use of the Psalter is an essential part of worship, whether it be done using the Daily Offices, or, more commonly, celebrating the Eucharist. Incorporating use of the Psalter as part of the readings from Scripture at the Eucharist has been one of the major contributions of the Liturgical Movement and our BCP 1979 to the enrichment of parish worship. A portion of the Psalter is a prescribed part of the Propers for every Sunday and Holy Day, as you can observe here (https://lectionarypage.net/) I notice that the same thing is true… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

The psalms are an integral, and prescribed, part of both Morning and Evening Prayer (otherwise Matins and Evensong) whether according to the BCP or Common Worship. Due to reduced clergy numbers, many (most?) churches at parish level have only one Sunday morning service, which tends in many places to be the ‘Parish’ or ‘Family’ Communion Service requiring an ordained celebrant as the explanation for supplanting the traditional Offices. That situation is not invariable and until my recent retirement I was involved in weekly services of sung Matins, with the psalms sung to varied chants, but I have the impression that… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Psalms are set for use at the Eucharist too — both in the Sunday lectionary and in the weekday lectionary. They are almost invariably used in the parish where I worship, and are sung to a responsorial setting on Sundays. Very occasionally we will sing a metrical psalm instead. But I think we are a relative rarity in using the full provision of lessons: OT, Psalm, NT and Gospel.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
6 months ago

You might have guessed that my background is largely BCP. Introduction of a psalm in the Eucharist is relatively recent for the C of E and, as you say, the responsorial form is usual if not invariable. This is, ostensibly, far simpler for a congregation than psalms set to Anglican chant with pointing.

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