Saturday, August 31, 2013

Architecture, Bishops, and Baptism... Oh My! – Sewanee D.Min. Year Three

Well, here I am, another week of my nose deep in books completed and my final paper for the 2013 Advanced Degrees Program for Sewanee is now turned in. That means I just have one more summer of coursework and then a thesis and I will have completed the requirements for the Doctor of Ministry.

As I did last year, I'm posting this year's papers online for any who might find them interesting.

The Oxford Movement, the Liturgy and the Crisis of Faith, class taught by the Rev. Dr. Benjamin J. King, Associate Professor of Church History and Director of the Advanced Degrees Program (and keynote speaker for the upcoming SCP Conference in Philadelphia). Two papers:

The Influence of the Oxford Movement Upon St. John's Episcopal Church, Grand Haven, MI
From the introduction
One of the most difficult aspects of determining the influence of any movement or tradition upon a parish is that so much of church tradition exists implicitly, as certain assumptions about the “way things are done.” However, there are definite architectural and liturgical practices that were brought about by the Oxford Movement and whose presence in a church—even one that does not identify as a High Church or Oxford Movement parish—can indicate just how significantly the Oxford Movement impacted the Anglican tradition of Christianity. St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, MI, is an excellent example of this reality. Though never formally identified as an Oxford Movement parish, key choices and approaches of that movement are evident in the architectural style and liturgical choices throughout much of the church’s almost one hundred and fifty year history. 
The Development of an Anglican Understanding of the Episcopate, with Particular Note to the Innovations of the Oxford Movement
From the introduction
One of the fundamental marks of Anglicanism, as articulated in the 1888 Lambeth Quadrilateral, is “The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.”  Indeed, the retention of a strong episcopate sets Anglicanism apart from any other Reformation era body. For the nineteenth-century Oxford Movement, the episcopate was central to the Church itself. In Oxford Movement leader Edward Bouverie Pusey’s summary of Tractarian teaching, “a high estimate of the Episcopacy as God’s ordinance,” ranks as his second point of the summary.  However, what is often unrealized is that the Oxford Movement’s understanding of the episcopate was not only a break from the tradition of prior Anglicanism, it was a significant departure from early High Church thought. A careful exploration of the development of the theology of the episcopate in the history of Anglicanism—particularly in the High Church tradition—will demonstrate how significant this departure was and raise important questions for contemporary doctrine and practice.

Mapping Ritual Structure, class taught by the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Dean of the School of Theology, Professor of Liturgy, Charles Todd Quintard Professor of Dogmatic Theology and the Rev. Dr. James F. Turrell, Norma and Olan Mills Prof of Divinity, Assoc. Dean for Academic Affairs, Sub-dean of the Chapel of the Apostles (otherwise known as the professors with, I think, the longest titles—though having two different liturgy people teach the same class, and it not turn into a wrestling match, was quite an accomplishment). One paper:

An Analysis of the Development of Rites of Initiation in English Christianity from the First Centuries through the Middle Ages, with Application to Current Questions of Liturgical Practice
From the introduction
Students of the history of Christianity in the British Isles are well aware of the fascinating relationship between Christianity in the Roman tradition and that in the English tradition. Indeed, often the two are very difficult to pull apart. In various ages throughout the history of Christianity in the British Isles, Roman practices and understandings have dominated. At other times, this dominance was resisted and British or Celtic practices were affirmed. 
In the specific area of liturgy, these questions become even more loaded, as many of the studies presuppose a certain position at the outset. We see this particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century debates between the emerging evangelical or low-church Anglicans and the more catholic or high-church Anglicans. Each sought to articulate a definite tradition, either in concert with Rome or in opposition to Rome. This was particularly a reality for nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholics, for whom the catholic heritage and tradition of the Church of England was seen as essentially continuous from the first centuries... 
For all of these reasons, an exploration of the architecture, practices, and liturgy surrounding rites of initiation as they were practiced in English Christianity will be helpful. While this exploration is not intended to pretend that the practice of these rites is entirely separated from their practice on the continent (indeed, the study will reveal that this is absolutely not the case), we can see that the distinctive traditions surrounding rites of initiation in English Christianity have much to say about current liturgical practices. Indeed, several of the elements of prayer book revision in the Episcopal Church actually bear witness to the historic practice of the English Christianity from the first centuries. By claiming more deeply the distinctive aspects of English Christianity, we will be further connected to those Christians who stand in our ancestral line while still living more fully into the rites as laid out in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Furthermore, allowing ourselves to be shaped by these liturgical practices that will enable us to continue the important revision of our shared liturgy. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Searching for peace in the Holy Land

My July 31, 2013, article for the Grand Haven Tribune, Searching for peace in the Holy Land,
I had been traveling throughout Israel and Jordan on an archeological tour and, during some open time, made my way to St. George’s Cathedral, just north of the old city of Jerusalem. The cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Jerusalem in the diocese of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East. 
The last time I was in Jerusalem, with a group of pilgrims from my parish, we went to Sunday services at the cathedral. The worship service was according to the Book of Common Prayer, but in Arabic, as the cathedral’s congregation is comprised largely of Palestinian Christians. It is active in health care and education ministries, and a force for interfaith dialogue with Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land. 
I hadn’t realized, growing up, that Palestinian referred to both Christians and Muslims. I had always assumed, for some reason, that the conflict in the Holy Land was primarily a religious one between Muslims and Jews.
Read more at the Tribune's website here.