Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 29 April 2020

Fergus Butler-Gallie reviewed streamed services from the Church of England and protestant churches for BBC Radio 4‘s Sunday programme (listen from 3 min 16 sec).

Peter Anthony Are virtual celebrations of the Eucharist a good idea or not?
[21 minute YouTube video]

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church What are Safeguarding Core Groups in the Church of England?

Savitri Hensman ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back….to Pretending Closeness is Unnecessary

Doug Chaplin Liturgica When catching a virus changes the church.

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Kate
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Kate

Peter Anthony was wrong last week but this week he is also starting to look silly. He claims livestreaming of the Eucharist isn’t valid because of the infinitesimal delays between the events happening them and people seeing and hearing them. Of course, there is also a delay in church – light and sound do not travel at infinite speed. The host has for a very long time been reserved for the sick in many parishes. The sick don’t even see or hear or see the blessing of the host. It might be hours or days later that they receive it,… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

Kate: I don’t agree with you, but that does not make you wrong or silly. I tend to agree with Fr. Peter, but I do believe his notion that a live broadcast is not taking place in real time is a bit extreme. I do agree with what he says about whether bread and wine in someone’s home is consecrated via a virtual Eucharist. If I play my parish’s Easter Eucharist today with bread and wine on my desk, will those elements be consecrated? In my opinion, no. I think Fr. Peter makes a valid point when he says that… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Isn’t the whole point that God knows?

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“Isn’t the whole point that God knows?” Not at all. One must factor in what we know, and the basis for our claim to know.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I’m as amused by you at his scientific illiteracy. I think we’re pretty confident that Special Relativity is as true today as it was in September 1905 when Einstein published the paper: 115 years of solid experimental evidence. Clearly, anything you see or hear is in the past, by about one nanosecond per foot for vision and one millisecond per foot for sound. But when BT started their 4K Hi Def streaming of football matches, people complained that they were learning of the goals from Twitter before they saw them on the screen, as the pitch-to-TV latency was of the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Sure, Fr. Anthony kind of fumbles the ball on the theoretical issue of simultaneity and relative position. However, I think his larger point about ‘physicality’ has merit, ‘pythonesque’ though the whole conversation complete with rejoinders has now become. Linguistic analysis, rather than physics, is a better way of exploring the distinction. Abridged from the (C.)O.E.D. “Actual: existing in fact, real.” vs. ” Virtual: (1) That is such in essence or effect, though not recognized as such in name or according to strict definition. (2) computing (a) not physically existing but made by software to appear to do so from the… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Guest
Evan McWilliams

Thank you for this glorious ray of sensible sunshine. I’ve been waiting for someone to bring up Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics as a necessary component of this discussion. I only have contact with my grandparents via FaceTime because they live in another country. Whilst it is a joy to be able to speak to them and see their faces, I am acutely conscious that I am not really present with them. My body is in my house and their bodies are in theirs. They have not come into my house simply because a moving image of their faces sits before me in… Read more »

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

Fantastic comparison (simile?) with regard to reserving of the host for the sick.
Brava!

Richard
Guest
Richard

In such a case, the host was consecrated on the altar in front of the priest and (usually) in the presence of others. The comparison here is whether a bit of bread on a desk across town is consecrated when someone has a virtual Eucharist playing… with perhaps no one even in the room!

Susannah Clark
Guest

Some people have complained that we should not be debating about things like virtual communion when there are far more urgent practical needs to be attended to in this present heart-breaking crisis. It is a fair point about priorities, and to be fair, as a nurse currently deployed in the crisis (out of retirement) I agree about the prioritisation and that it’s best to be getting on with trying to be practical rather than abstract, at least as an order of what’s most urgent. So I hesitate to respond to Peter’s further YouTube broadcast, where like Charlie Bell he looks… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Peter presents four arguments against the practice of ‘virtual Eucharist’: 1. ‘I don’t think a virtual gathering of people is a real gathering of people.’ ‘It’s not the same as meeting physically with someone in the same room.’ Well, obviously it’s not ‘the same’, but it is still meeting, sharing, communicating, coming together. People may have different views of what constitutes ‘gathering’, but that does not necessarily stop the consecration of bread and wine (by God) from taking place. ‘I think there is a physical character to the sacraments that is really crucial, and if we get rid of that… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Peter presents four arguments against the practice of ‘virtual Eucharist’: 2. ‘I don’t think there’s any such thing as live streaming or live broadcasting.’ ‘Any recording of the human voice is automatically in the past. The time lapse may be infinitesimal, it might be absolutely tiny, but nonetheless what you’re seeing on the screen took place a tiny portion of a second ago. There is no such thing as live broadcasting… it’s simply not the same as if you gather in the same room as someone… all of it is recorded sounds and images from the past.’ My dear Peter,… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

Do you think that placing bread and wine before your computer screen today and replaying the virtual Eucharist from a couple weeks ago is a valid consecration? (Maundy Thursday every day!!!) If you are alone in your home, does that mean you are in violation of the “at least two communicants” rule? If the parish priest is ill on a Sunday, can we put out some bread and wine and show a video of last week’s mass? Fr. Peter celebrates the Eucharist at an altar in his home — with no other communicants present — and does so in a… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The human interest stories early in Savitri Hensman’s article provide a microcosmic segue into the global oriented point made in the third last paragraph of the piece, “If humanity is to survive and thrive, it is time to challenge the way the world is ordered – where wealth is hoarded or wasted while people starve and whilst power-games among leaders inflict suffering and death on millions.” The planet, evidenced from the general lack of global solidarity to the specifics of the continued erosion of international institutions, is experiencing steep social decline. The pandemic,both locally and globally, is just one frame… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Peter presents four arguments against the practice of ‘virtual Eucharist’: 3. ‘I think virtual celebrations of the Eucharist are inherently exclusive.’ To be straight, I think this is Peter’s strongest argument. He refers to Alice Whalley’s very thought-provoking article, and asks, what if a lot of people can’t access these virtual Eucharists? ‘There is a sort of internet poverty in our world where the less-advantaged members of our society don’t have access to the internet in the same way that middle-class graduates simply take for granted.’ This is Peter’s most significant point, I believe. It could indeed be argued that… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“This is Peter’s most significant point, I believe. It could indeed be argued that by operating a Eucharist that some are excluded from, that even if the Eucharist itself was theologically valid, on pastoral grounds it should not take place.” Again, he is being blind to other people’s circumstances. I can’t attend the regular Sunday service at my local church because the service is timed to start before public transport wakes up on a Sunday. Until very recently, I also was too ill to catch a train to attend.. When things get back to normal I am hoping monthly services… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Doug Chaplin, while addressing a specifically English context (church buildings remain accessible to clergy in other parts of The Communion) presents a considered approach regarding the dialectic in (Eucharistic)worship i.e. what is offered to God and what is of benefit to a congregation. Anglican theologian John Macquarrie (Principles of Christian Theology pp. 469-81) considers the multi-dimensional aspects of the Eucharist. There is a down side, Macquarrie notes, to placing an excessive emphasis on the Eucharist as a ‘banquet’, as merely a meal. The introductory article to the Eucharist in the Canadian Alternative prayer book (BAS p. 179) draws this point… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Guest
Allan Sheath

Rod, when we’re seeing daily horrors unfold in our care homes, I’m struggling to see grace in locked churches, ‘making my Communion’, etc. Yet the lively conversation on TA suggests that the C of E may not have lost interest in the Eucharist after all. As you say, when the time is right we have a lot of thinking to do.

ACI
Guest
ACI

Bounden duty and service. Chaplin’s essay also clarifies why for many generations communion was irregular and yet congregations did not feel spiritually deprived in a manner now so widely articulated. “My communion.” I attended an anglo-catholic boarding school where Holy Communion *was* regular — but it was a non-communicating mass, a la ‘offering to God’ and only the priest received every Sunday. We received on special Feasts. I am not commending this. I am commending the sort of deep thinking Chaplin encourages about our Eucharistic theology. When it approaches consumeristic instincts so deeply ingrained that we lose any sense of… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Guest
Allan Sheath

“Bounden duty and service.” This is why sacrifice matters, it gives objectivity rather than depending on our necessarily subjective feelings. Take away sacrifice – “offering to God” – and the Eucharist becomes just one option among many in a consumerist society in which utility is raised almost to a virtue. A re-appropriation by English Anglicans of the Eucharist as both sacrifice and communion would be good for the health of the Church and the world. Without it I fear the Lord’s Supper will become, in the immortal words of Miss Jean Brodie, something “for those who like that kind of… Read more »

ACI
Guest
ACI

You’ll get no argument here.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

One of the most stimulating experiences I had as a parish priest came in the form of questions posed by parishioners in a variety of contexts. Such questions offered the opportunity to think, reflect, and wonder about what might constitute, not just for the questioner but for me as well, something of an adequate response consonant with an Anglican perspective. Often pondering, rather than answering, the question was the more fulfilling part of the equation. I feel much the same way about the articles, and many of the comments on the same, posted on TA. However, with regard to the… Read more »

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

Regarding some of the discussions about the nature of the Eucharist (and apologies in advance for mixing metaphors on a commercial scale): I may be wrong about what I heard/read in the Gospels, or I may have been hearing/reading a wildly revisionist translation of the Gospels, such as the NSRV, but I seem to recall Jesus of Nazareth scolding “some” Pharisees for being so immersed in or obsessed with the minutiae of the various commandments within the Law that they forget the intent of the Law itself. Paying so much attention to the leaves on a single tree that they… Read more »

Sarah
Guest

Having listened to Peter Anthony’s video, I think his weakest point is that virtual communion makes communion exclusive, which assumes that our usual communion services are not. I’ve written a response here: https://meristemweb.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/though-we-are-many/

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

This discussion should be publicised. The world at large needs to know what thinking Anglicans think about: the efficacy and strength of powers emanating from the priest, the extent of their penetration (strength inversely proportional to the square of the distance I suppose), the duration of their effects, whether these effects are modified in any way by their being transmitted electronically through distant screens to remote victuals, and how spiritually fulfilled middle class neurotics feel as a result. This is vitally important stuff at any time, and particularly so as poverty and hunger and homelessness and deprivation seem set to… Read more »

Sarah
Guest

I think it’s possible for these things to exist in parallel – to be both/and rather than either/or. It is perfectly possible for people to spend their day delivering for the foodbank, phoning those in isolation, agitating about the climate crisis and then later in the day reflect on the nature of the Eucharist. We are more aware of these reflections because people need somewhere to share their thinking. We are less aware of the other things because they tend to involve practical action rather than reflective thinking.

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

I recommend the article by Hennessy/Selby in the Tablet 30 April 2020, entitled ‘Is Anglicanism going private?’ Perhaps the moderator could link it.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Peter Selby in The Tablet is well worth reading, not least because he’s a C of E bishop (retired) of some prophetic distinction. It underlines how the C of E has in large measure abandoned the wider community in favour of tending only the members of its shrinking club. As he hints, the RC church is becoming the go-to source of spiritual sustenance – I suppose that flourished with Basil Hume and it hasn’t yet quite evaporated. His observation that the NHS is becoming the new national religion reflects a truth that has been evident for several years, and the… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

The more I read of this “controversy” regarding live-streaming of services in the UK (whether over the idea of the priest using the church as a backdrop or the efficacy of a long-distance Eucharist) the more I am happy that on this side of the pond we do not have an established church and that each parish calls its own rector and each diocese elects its own bishop. I have read nothing in the Episcopal Church of this kind of discussion; each diocese and parish chooses its own path, within the restrictions laid down by the local government as to… Read more »

ACI
Guest
ACI

The Bishop of Western Louisiana had approved a form of ‘virtual communion.’ He rescinded it. You may find the text at The Living Church and elsewhere. He states that the PB and HOB ‘encouraged him’ to cease such a practice.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I’ll look for it; this is the first I’ve heard of any such controversy over here.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I’ve seen the report now; this remains the only instance of the practice I am aware of in the Episcopal Church; personally, I am glad to see it ended, as I think it devalues the whole idea of communal gathering. My parish has been offering a live-streamed Morning Prayer on Sunday and a Noonday Prayer (often led by parishioners from their homes) on weekdays. From what I see on line, this has been the more normal practice throughout my diocese (Pennsylvania) and most of the rest of the nation. While I appreciate the attempt of the Bishop of Western Louisiana… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Hmmmm ‘ACI’ eh, “…the PB and HOB ‘encouraged him’ to cease such a practice.” Maybe they put him in the back seat of a limo, sat him between two really big guys, turned off the AC, turned up the heat, and drove him around until he was convinced to have more respect for ‘their thing’? 🙂

ACI
Guest
ACI

I’ll let his own words speak for him. See The Living Church.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

My politically sardonic comment was intended to poke fun at the well crafted PR statement which massages the reversal of awkward ad hoc public policy.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I think we have had this conversation, or similar, on an earlier thread. I commented then on the bad manners of senior people in the C of E criticising (interfering in?) TEC matters and understandably causing offence. Why do you think it appropriate to deprecate from your ‘side of the pond’ what is happening here, and the fact of our established church.

I happen to agree with you on the first point, but would not dream of commenting in this fashion about the TEC.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

As I am not a “senior person” in TEC (just a “senior person” in general), I don’t think the circumstances are at all similar. I am not interfering in the CofE, just noting that I think some recent decisions and events are wrong-headed.

ACI
Guest
ACI

As someone in orders in TEC and with a PTO in the CofE, I agree. I also do not believe the situation is all that different, in this particular case. Bishops in TEC can be (should be) just as authoritarian when it comes to serious diseases like COVID-19. We are not an established church but that hardly eliminates similar duties and accountability. I am often surprised at the virulence of criticism against bishops/arch-bishops on this site. I do wonder how the genie will go back in the bottle after the dust has settled. Froghole’s financial observations are pretty chilling, when… Read more »