Time to Spout Off

This post, I have to say, is very random and entirely unprovoked. And not only that, I’m about to cut loose and be extremely dogmatic about things that are entirely outside the realm of my personal expertise. (I like putting it that way, because it makes it sound as though I actually have a realm of personal expertise tucked away somewhere.)

Having issued fair warning, I would now like to give my candid, personal opinion of Canterbury Cathedral. (Told you this was random.) And if you have strong personal affection for the highly liturgical version of the Anglican Church, then I would suggest you stop reading right now. Before I haul up my socks and get too rude, however, I should give a brief summary of the good points about Canterbury:

Historical interest: Five Stars

There you go. Now for my opinion. Since I know nothing whatever about the actual architectural finer points of that building, and I’m sure there are many because you can’t have a ceiling that tall without it being architecturally impressive, I am going to assess it purely from a feng-shui-style perspective. (Notice I said “feng-shui-style” because feng-shui is also something I know nothing about.) But if I believed in Karma, Canterbury is wallowing in a sea of the BAD kind. If I thought that buildings emitted an energy, Canterbury’s energy is way out of touch with the straight and narrow. If I thought that buildings exuded a wafting, colored cloud, Canterbury’s would be the color of anti-freeze. If I thought buildings had a conscience, Canterbury has a lot of sin on its. If I thought buildings had a personality, Canterbury is a pompous, self-serious, Know-It-All with short-man syndrome. If I thought buildings could talk, Canterbury would be one of those insufferable people who trill their R’s. If I thought buildings would listen to my advice, I would send Canterbury straight in for a chat with my grandfather on the subjects of confession of sin and practical Christianity. And then he would insist that it write letters of apology and make restitution and that would do it all the good in the world.

Have you ever been to Canterbury? Initially of course, you’re quite wowed by the tall ceilings and the music and the fact that the Black Prince is laid out right over there, and  Thomas a Becket was murdered right over here, and that this is the very same place where people like the Wife of Bath and the Miller and the Knight have been coming to worship saints’ relics for, oh, centuries now. (And telling each other terribly off-color stories on the way.) But then you pause and wonder to yourself why that obviously homosexual man (“as camp as a row of tents” as they say) with the earrings and the eye makeup is all decked out in that dress with all the whirligigs on it. Ah yes. He’s a minister here. “What are all those whirligigs?” you wonder to yourself. “Aren’t they just the tiniest bit gaudy what with all the gold embroidery and whatnot?” But then you remember that Jesus did, after all, say to make sure that you really widen the borders of your garments and broaden those phylacteries so that everyone sees how important you are. It’s a vital part of being a Christian minister. We’re all pretty sure that the apostle Paul wore a golden cape around. He was pretty hot on everyone paying him a lot of respect. (Yes, I can hear you. You’re saying, “You silly fathead! It’s not about the MAN, it’s about the OFFICE.”) Right. Yes. Paul wore a golden cape around with enlarged borders to show everyone what an important office he held. My mistake.

We’ve all heard about theology being built right in to the very stones of the cathedrals. Canterbury seems to have been constructed along the ever-so-biblical Yertle the Turtle lines. You walk into the cathedral and look down through all the arches and there, at the end, is a flight of steps. What’s up the steps? You can’t see that high. You’re not supposed to, you plebe. Only people with fancy capes get to go up there. Oh wait. Luckily we’ve had the Reformation, so it’s ok. (I’m pretty sure the Wife of Bath didn’t get to go up those steps.) There, in the dead middle, right at the focal point of the whole enormous cathedral, is a throne. Yertle the archbishop’s throne. It reminds me a lot of the verse about how he who desires to be the greatest should set himself up a fancy seat that has the best view.

While we were there, we stayed for a service. Luckily, no one went off-script and said anything not in the Prayer Book. (When we were at Westminster Abbey, we got a sermon on how wonderful it is to pray to the saints. “They intercede for us and isn’t that lovely?” I’m totally not making that up. We then had to boycott singing a hymn to Edward the Confessor. Not about Edward the Confessor, to Edward the Confessor.) Anyway, the service we were there for at Canterbury didn’t involve a sermon, which was all to the good. But what we did have was a whole enormous amount of processing. A man in a cape who sat in a special seat with a velvet curtain around it got out of his seat and processed in with a wispy assistant marching before him carrying a long silver spoon. After a bit he processed back accompanied by the tender chap with the spoon and got back into his chair while his little assistant shut the curtain. (The gay one with the earrings.) Then he and the silver spoon got out again and processed back past. After a bit he processed one more time (spoon and all) and his little assistant tucked him snugly back into his seat. Every time that man went by, we all had to stand. Of course for the reading of the Scripture we remained seated, but boy we all had to hop to whenever the man with the cape and spoon went past. Also of note was the fact that no one was allowed to sit in the top row of seats. Along both sides of the chapel there is a row of gorgeously carved, high-backed seats . . . and also carved upon them is the notice of the important personage for whom this seat is reserved. Much like the parking places that say “Reserved for the CEO. All others will be towed.” That too seemed to really be in touch with what Jesus always praised about the Pharisees. He loved how they made sure to get the best seats in the synagogue. Thought it important enough to mention specifically what a good trait that was of theirs. James, too, would definitely be a fan of that seating method. Actually, come to think of it, the King James version of that passage is especially applicable.
And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place.
He even covered the gay clothing and everything.

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109 thoughts on “Time to Spout Off

  1. Positively brilliant! Only visited Canterbury as a tourist (didn’t attend a service), but I’m all too familiar with the tragic and even laughable state the Anglican Church has found itself in. It’s hard to believe that the Episcopal Church USA is even further in apostasy.

  2. Hmm… I don’t think the intolerable corruption of Christ’s apostolic Church in England is best addressed by the silly bitterness of this post.

    There is nothing wrong with order and beauty and authority in Christ’s church. I am no great one for vestments, but guess what? Some ministers of the gospel not only dare to do so in lounge suits, but think it *mandatory* to be dressed in this way – like a travelling salesman or prime minister – when standing in the presence of God. Others dress like modern golfers – chinos and polo shirts – and consider it the height of piety. I have seen still others in shorts and t-shirts. Which are more ridiculous? Them, or the chaps in the golden-lined cloaks? Which approach closer and most reverently to the brilliant garb of our heavenly High Priest, Christ Jesus standing at the altar of God?

    The apostles sit on thrones in heaven. I see no reason why bishops should not therefore have lesser thrones on earth, for their apostolic duties.

    Etc, etc. I despise, with a broken heart, the revolutionaries who have looted, perverted, and stolen my church, but there are several sides to what you saw, and the best way to judge them is not solely by their imperfect use today but by what, with God’s grace and the light of his Word, they might once have been and be again.

    P.S. I would not be surprised to hear Westminster Cathedral advocate prayer to saints. Westminster Cathedral is, after all, Roman Catholic. The Abbey is Anglican.

  3. I visited the place almost 2 years ago now and find your description quite well put. I agree with Emily above, sad to kno that the Episcopalian Church USA is even further from the reality of the Gospel.

  4. This post takes me a little by surprise, but I take no offense from it. Your description doesn’t fit the Anglican diocese I’m a member of in Southeast Asia.

    How could you know of the wider faithful Anglican communion in Asia and Africa? How could you know of the wonderful work done in Christ’s name in Laos and Cambodia and Indoonesia? How could you know about the Anglican missionaries that rescue kids from human sacrifice in these countries? How could you know about the people from my church who bring the good news of Jesus Christ to prisoners?

  5. Oimph – good heavens! Silly mistake – I meant the Abbey of course, not the cathedral. (I’m afraid they can’t get out of it by turning out to be Roman Catholic. They were the real deal Anglicans who told us to pray to the saints. And to add insult to injury, the man quoted Richard Baxter, of all people, to bolster his case!) I have no problem with order and beauty and authority in Christ’s church. I’m all for it in fact. And just to be quite clear, if a man stood up and preached in a wife-beater and flip-flops then I would have many silly and bitter remarks to make about that as well. I would haul out the old blog, dust it off, and say a thing or two about it. But I wasn’t talking about those problem-people in this post. I was talking about the people in Canterbury who are disrupting the order and beauty and authority of Christ’s church by swanking around and totally disregarding what Christ had told them to do.

    And Cindy – I of course am in no way disparaging the places where the Anglicans are working faithfully for the Gospel . . . I have been attending a great Anglican church in England for the last three years, and all my criticisms of Canterbury were corruptions that our Anglican friends were fighting against. The missionaries who are out rescuing children from human sacrifice are quite obviously obeying Christ’s commands, while the folks parading about in capes seem to have perhaps forgotten what this whole thing is all about.

  6. I was a little afraid to read this as I am a faithful Anglican, but I needn’t have been. I know you meant it to be a funny butchering, but instead of making me laugh (I used to be a Presbyterian and I tend to find myself laughing more at those foibles these days) it made me cry. Because the breaking apart of any fellowship is tragic and against the gospel of Christ and it hurts when you are near to it. Everything you let fly on is painfully true.

    Anglicanism (in its current form) is what happens when a woman (the Queen) is the head of the church. Because, you know, THAT’s what St. Paul preached. That the heads of state ought to be the heads of the church on earth. Sad sad sad.

  7. Well done, Bekah! Having attended a few Anglican services in Europe, you’re satire is spot on. As long as they stick with the Book of Common Prayer, everything goes great. But, as soon as they have a chance to ‘speak freely’, the wheels come off the wagon and you realize why they can only muster about 15 parishioners per service (all 60 ). Oh, and speaking of silliness, Oimph’s request that we ‘judge them…not solely by their imperfect use today but by what…they might once have been and be again’, is exactly the type of soft-headed, muddledness that needs to be ripped out, root and branch, from the Anglican church. Can you imagine Christ saying that to the Pharisees? ‘Well, boys, you’re pretty screwed up but, well, Moses was a decent chap and, after I’m gone, Paul will do his bit so, let’s grab a pint and raise a toast to the glory days of the Temple!’ Sheeesh.

  8. Fair enough! Apologies if I over-reacted – silliness has its place. I am in absolute agreement about the role which earrings should play in the uniform of vicars: that is to say, no role at all.

    Mrs Butler, the Queen as head is actually no more than a first amongst laymen. The Anglican church teaches that Christ is the Head of his Church. It is quite plain in the Articles etc.

  9. So what you seem to be saying is that it took less than 100 years for those “pale, young curates” to be running the whole business?

  10. Semi-related, I popped into an Episcopal church on 5th Ave on a recent trip to NY, and there was a prayer to Mary written out by an altar. Are prayers to Mary and saints the norm for that denomination?

  11. My husband and I were raised Episcopalian and were never taught to pray to Mary or the saints. I know about 10 years ago there was an Episcopal church in NYC that decided to display an image of a goddess next to the crucifix in one of their chapels, in an effort to be “fair” and “open-minded.” The church you came upon in NYC may have also been showing off its Universalist self.

    And (also about 10 years ago) my husband and I attended an Episcopal church in Dallas that was the headquarters for Ekklesia, an effort to unite the conservative and truly Christian Anglican bishops from around the world. We were priveleged to meet bishops from Africa and Asia that had suffered for the gospel and had family and friends that had died simply because they were Christians. The seriousness with which they take their faith makes most Americans look like they’re just playing church.

    We left the Episcopal Church in 2001.

  12. Five stars for this article!
    Except one might be tempted to deduct a star because of the black coffee that now engulfs my laptop as a result of an inexorable LOL.
    Thanks anyway for posting, Mrs Wilson.

  13. Oimph, yes, I know. I am an Anglican and I am well acquainted with the 39 Articles. I was making a comment about a woman being a head of any church body even among mortals. And also about how she’s a head of state and that makes her the head of the church. I find that problematic. I was not trying to say that the church views ERII as above Jesus.

    Valerie. I’m that old, too. Ricky Schroeder. HA!

  14. I also have to wonder what sort of hue many modern evangelical church buildings would exude into the sky. Of course it’s not all about the building as many great churches meet in school multi-purpose rooms and community centers, but you have to wonder about those that actually CHOOSE to design their church buildings to look more like movie theaters than cathedrals (snack bar and all).

    Excellent post! And to think, I almost didn’t read it for fear I’d be offended…

  15. The most unfortunate thing about this whole affair is that the author of the blog post seems not to realise that her ridicule of elements of the Apostolic Christian Faith, such as the prayers of the Saints, and the unfortunate situation in the Anglican Communion, are both merely two sides of the same coin. Both stem from separation from the life of the Church and are in need of the same remedy.

    Lord, have mercy.

  16. The Anglican Church is Protestant and should remain Protestant! To copy the Roman Catholics is an insult to our reformed past!

  17. While many Anglicans do not pray to saints, and while I am indeed surprised to read that the intercession of the saints was mentioned at Westminster Abbey, there are plenty of Anglicans who do, and over the past 100 years that number has steadily increased. Off the top of my head I can list dozens of Anglo-Catholic parishes in the USA and England that pray to Our Lady and the saints. And as for Anglicans being martyred for resisting them, rest assured that many more Catholics in England were martyred for continuing to do so, i.e., what had always been done in England from the time of St. Augustine.

  18. I can’t speak for what it’s like at Canterbury but I spent a wonderful weekend at Durham Cathedral (got to hear NT Wright preach twice) and loved it. Great preaching and wonderful architecture.

  19. On the one hand, you disclaim any knowledge of liturgical worship or architecture; yet on the other, you don’t hesitate to offer an opinion anyway. Might I suggest that you take this as an object lesson in humility, and that the next time you are tempted to mock religious traditions you don’t understand, you exercise continence?

    You are correct in noting that the Gospel does not mandate the use of copes or cathedras in worship. I might also point out that it does not mandate the wearing of business suits, nor the waving of one’s hands in the air to demonstrate to one’s fellows how “sanctified” one is by the presence of the Holy Ghost, nor the shouldering aside of Christian worship in order to offer to the congregants 45-minute seminars on the preacher’s pet topics.

    It’s one thing to be ignorant. It’s quite another to parade it proudly, especially in public space–even virtual public space. The half-baked Scholasticism of Reformed theology notwithstanding, Christianity has a history of faith and practice that precede the 16th century. You might consider learning something about them in order to avoid making a fool of yourself in the future–that is, if simple charity isn’t enough of a motivation.

  20. The “spoon” is not a spoon but a Verge and is carried by a Verger to lead those who are moving within the building and to protect them from physical violence. Historically it served the same function as a policeman’s truncheon. In some Cathedrals the head verger also has the title “Constable of the Close”.

  21. Wowee! Having visited that other site in which many people are hyperventilating about what I said – may I just parahprase D.L Moody and mention that if you throw a rock into a pack of turkeys, the one that squawks is the one that got hit. There’s an awful lot of feathers in the air over there!

    And Gamaliel . . . that was a very tasteful and convincing rebuttal of my points. (On the other hand, it cheered up my morning quite a lot! I can’t tell you how much it pleased me to have confirmed all your prejudices about Americans! One of these days, if you’re nice, I’ll show you my big silver belt buckle.)

  22. Having skimmed through the discussion on that other site, I note that that Mrs. Merkle is significantly better educated about her subject (Anglicanism) than the discussion participants are about theirs (Mrs. Merkle).

  23. I was using satire, Rebekah. You obviously didn’t notice. Irony is in short supply where you are. We Brits do it better than you do. Mind you, you do other things better than us, so there’s quits.

    Seriously though, your post does betray a heck of a lot of ignorance.

    For the record, I’ve got nothing against the Reformed tradition. Baxter’s one of my heroes. And he was genuinely eirenic.

    If anything, I would agree that you’ve highlighted some weaknesses about the approach taken at Canterbury Cathedral. They should have explained what was going on. They’d obviously assumed everyone was on their wavelength.

    I used to have an issue with bells & smells etc but I don’t any more. Mainly because I looked into it and got to know people who’re into that sort of thing. Always a good place to start.

    Like I say, travel is supposed to broaden the mind …

  24. It is unseemly to attack a fellow Christian in the way that some have dared to do so in posts here and at the ‘ship of fools’. Lietuvos has been particularly disgraceful, and ought to remember that the Lord shall bring every wicked word before us, whether spoken in the street or written in a weblog forum. He is doing more injury to himself than to others with that poison.

  25. Camp as tents–like that. Your dad said “chancel prancers” once, which was good too. Btw, DW, if you’re listening, your login system is broken. Just saying. Cheers!

  26. To produce witty and biting satire, one must understand what one is attempting to satirise. Rebekah, you demonste complete ignorance of traditonal Anglicanism and of liturgy, so your attempt at satire becomes nothing more than a cringeworthy demonstration of bigotry.

    Try harder next time please.

  27. (Oimph, I believe some attacks on fellow Christians occurred in the original blog post here. Or do you not consider high-church Anglicans to be Christians?)

    What I see going on here is we’re all spouting off about how “I follow Apollo” and “I follow Paul;” “I’m an Evangelical,” “I’m an Anglo-Catholic;” “We do things right, they do things wrong.” But there is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all. If you’re a Christian of any stripe, you’re part of this messy family that we’re all a part of. If you receive Communion, you are at Christ’s table, and, well, so are the rest of us.

    Christian charity, and general common courtesy, would dictate, however, that when you go someplace where the customs are different from yours, you learn about them before simply mocking them. There are a lot of different ways to worship God, because there are a lot of different kinds of people and cultures. Christianity is the religion of the Incarnation, and we inculturate that religion in different ways. You only do yourself a disservice if you only interpret it uncharitably.

    The fancy vestments and furnishings in the church, BTW, have everything to do with the office and not the person. The person neither owns nor benefits from any of that stuff. Their pay stub is undoubtedly more modest! All the fineries owned by cathedrals (at least here in the US) have been donated. It may not reflect your culture, but these gifts to the church are ways in which some people express their valuation of the house of God.

    Disclosure: I’m a working-class American who was raised in a Pentecostal church (very suspicious of fancy churches and liturgy) but am now Episcopalian. I consider myself “broad church” – I can worship anywhere. I am a verger at an Episcopal cathedral, too. “churchgeek” is my screen name at Ship of Fools, which is a very good place full of a wide range of people. You should give it a charitable try too. We really do welcome everyone!

  28. I also want to say kudos to this blog for letting anyone post here and not deleting dissenting views! 🙂

  29. Come on Oimph, Rebekah started it …

    More seriously, American friends, put yourselves in our shoes. How would you like it if one of us Brits posted something that suggested that all US churches were full of mindless fundamentalists or Appallachian Snake Handlers?

    You wouldn’t. Nor would I post anything as offensive as that. Because I’ve met enough American Christians to recognise that as a caricature. My little prod about confirming my prejudices was meant to be ironic – and also intended to get you guys to confront some of your own prejudices about other Christian traditions.

    I’m not defending everything that goes on at Canterbury Cathedral. Nor everything that gets posted on Ship of Fools.

    I must say, I’ve been encouraged by the openness of the hosters of this Blog by publishing things that go against what the Blogger originally posted. That’s a good place to start. Free Speech.

  30. Gamaliel, I was going to post on your discussion board but there was a big registration process. I registered but now it I am ‘pending approval’. So I will just post here:

    I thought her post was very funny. I remember attending an anglo-catholic church here in the states and having a similar response. I grew up Roman Catholic and I *thought* I had a tolerance for high-church (even occasionally visiting a latin rite service) but I realized there defiantly is some threshold that can be crossed where things becoming so high they are silly and self important.

    BTW, your snake handling comment seems wrong because she specifically noted that she is regularly attending an anglican church in the UK that she loves – so there is no implication that all english churches are like that.

    Unrelated Note to Doug Wilson – The comment function on your new blog is not working (it states only registered bloggers can post but there is nowhere to register – and I am already registered).

  31. And I find it discouraging when people condescend to be encouraged by decent human behavior in people of whom they’ve no reason to think ill, other than a specific disagreement. Why does Rebekah need to “start” with “free speech?” Maybe she’s been doing all that and more for years, right at this blog!

  32. Rebekah,
    Thanks for throwing the rock. I love that your family does not stop from saying what they know even when the truth may be too hard for some to hear. I always learn from your family!

  33. Though I definitely fall on the low church side, and I’m about as Reformed as you can get, I do think the Anglicans posting here have a point, overstated though it may be (at least on their blog).

    Both sides, it seems to me, are rather vehement in their condemnation of the other side. While it is true that Anglicanism has taken a distinct leaning towards Rome as of late, and that leaning has no doubt infected Canterbury, and most of this problem is centered in the high church side of things, a great deal more research could have been done before opening fire, and this could have been done with a great deal more restraint.

    On the other hand, it would be good not to make judgments too quick against what it written here. In an American protestant atmosphere, and grown under very Reformed conditions, these criticisms certainly seem spot-on. After all, any Anglican church in America that did stuff like that would certainly have distinctly roman leanings, and not just in the liturgy. And a little bit of research into the background of the author and the circles she resides in soon reveals a good reason for this sort of criticism, though I think it is in this case slightly misdirected.

    Mostly, though, I think everyone just needs to calm down and look at things from the other point of view. Again, I’m not claiming to be any sort of well-balanced moderate here, I’m definitely not, but an attempt at it every now and then is good for anybody.

  34. Might I kindly suggest to Mr. May that Anglicans of my acquaintance would consider themselves “Reformed Catholics” before they’d ever embrace an unqualified “protestant” label?

    My first visit to a church in England was to All Souls Langham – indistinguishable from the Baptist churches of my upbringing. My second was to a high Anglo-papalist church, St. Mary Bourne St. where they surprised me with their drinks reception after high mass. At the end of the service, the entire congregation turns toward the statue of Mary and the service concludes with a prayer to her. I’ve also visited a “typical” English village church which reminded me of the content-less protestantism one finds so often on this side of the pond. Lastly, I’ve visited another Anglican English-village church with a faithful few attending morning prayer and eucharist in the post-dawn hours in a church so old there is no electricity and you can see your breath as you responsively read the psalms, side to side in the choir.

    Oh, and I’ve also been to Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret’s, St. Paul’s, St, George’s chapel at Windsor castle and Canterbury Cathedral. While there is tremendous diversity, Bekah is spot on about the nature of worship in the tourist churches. These former houses of God, which are supposed to be dedicated to prayer (among other things), make it impossible to sit quietly and listen to God, even should one want to.


  35. I thought I would make a comment about prayer to the saints. The Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox who pray to the saints reason like this: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not the God of the dead, but of the living, Hence, those people who have gone before us into heaven are not dead;, rather, they are alive. And just as we can ask another Christian here on earth to pray for us, so we can ask one of these saints who are already in heaven to pray for us. I am not Anglican, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox, but it makes sense to me.

  36. I’m just popping in (and popping off) to say one more thing very quickly . . . to all of you who are so concerned about my attitude towards other Christians. And that is that I’m cool with there being all kinds of varying traditions within Christ’s church. That’s how God made the world, and He’s clearly fond of diversity. Which means that I should be too. The traditions I’m not cool with, however, are the ones that Jesus told us quite specifically that we shouldn’t do. Call me crazy, but that is where I advocate we draw the line. And I’m not sure that the nuances and deeper questions really need to be gotten into. We don’t really need to wrestle with the contours, or grapple with the undergirding narrative, or try to look at it through our special charitable glasses while we’re standing in the other person’s shoes . . . we just maybe need to stop it. You know? I mean, the wide-bordered-robe people whom Jesus lambasted no doubt had quite deep and deliberate reasons and syllogisms and symbolisms that were full of intellectual weight. But Jesus told them to knock it off. Should He have stopped and tried to have seen it from their side without being so judgmental? Should they have faulted Him for His lack of tact? Should He NOT have destroyed that beautiful temple?

    Also – just for the record (for those of you who think I need to calm down) I’ve been happy as a lark throughout this whole thing, (think cheerful face while typing) and am quite excessively pleased with myself for having rocked the boat at the Ship of Fools.

    Also for the record, I had a blast at Canterbury. It was a great trip.

    And one last thing for the record, many of you assume that I don’t know diddly-do-da about Anglican tradition. But just because I didn’t talk about it in my post doesn’t mean I’m not aware of it. Do your research next time, bozos. (Special note to Gamaliel: that was irony. Special note to everyone else: it was also cheerful.) Don’t believe me? Go ahead. Quiz me and see if I know what a thurible is. (I rode one last time I was at evensong.)

  37. Heh, I find this whole rant from Ship of Fools highly ironic in light of what they say on their ‘About’ page. http://shipoffools.com/shipstuff/index.html

    For example: “Our aim is to help Christians be self-critical and honest about the failings of Christianity, as we believe honesty can only strengthen faith.”


    “As committed Christians ourselves, we can’t help laughing at the crazy things that go wrong with the church…”

    I would have thought they’d be right into Bekah’s post! 🙂

  38. Wel, I would say that the description of the Verger’s mace as a “spoon,” along with other descriptions of the rite, clearly implies someone who is not terribly familiar with Anglican liturgy, including its Catholic aspects. So the conclusion by many was certainly not an unreasonable one.

    Also, we all realize that Our Lord criticized the pharisees on any number of occasions. However, I believe that on each occasion that he did, it was always the social and personal aspects, and never the liturgy of the temple or of the synagogue. He spoke of their behavior on the streets, when conversing with people, at dinner parties, etc. I do not recall his ever saying that liturgical propriety should not be observed, or that rites should not have a set order, including when to stand, sit, kneel.

  39. Rebecca, that reasoning is common but rather facile, isn’t it? After all, I can ask my fellow Christians on earth to pray for me, but I cannot and do not sit down at night and pray to my living mother over in far-flung Germany – and she does not hear me if I do.

    But if the saints on earth and in heaven are interchangeable, I could and should be able to. Indeed, the saints of heaven ought to pray to us, and we ought to hear them and intercede to God for them as well.

    It’s all fond nonsense and a lack of trust in God; indeed unbelief in the intercession, proximity and relationship won with Christ’s perfect life and death. It is a soft negation of the gospel.

    “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Anglicans who pray to saints are in gross defiance of the rules and authorities of their church.

  40. Ok … some fair points. And sure, I recognise irony when I see it, Rebekah, and your later posts are fine by me and clarify things a bit. Perhaps I was too quick on the draw … mind you, in Westerns it’s always the good guys who’re quicker on the draw. 😉

    Ok, you stirred things up a bit aboard Ship – but remember, it was on the Ecclesiantics thread which tends to be full of people who’re a bit precious about liturgy. On one of the other threads on that site it probably wouldn’t have attracted that much attention.

    In some ways I’m sorry to have joined the others in giving your rant the ‘oxygen of publicity.’ But hey, that’s cool … have your 15 seconds of fame.

    For the record, I’m not particularly ‘high’ (but I do have sympathies that way) and although I’ve been a lot more ‘reformed’ in my thinking in the past, I’ve sort of broadened out a bit. Whether that’s good, bad or indifferent depends on one’s perspective.

    I do agree with the poster who pointed out that Jesus had a go at the inner attitudes of the Pharisees rather than their outward observances, necessarily. Sure, there was the true Temple of his body rather than the ‘natural’ ceremonial one but the early disciples continued to meet in the temple courts etc.

    Incidentally, I once heard an Orthodox priest tell his congregation that their Tradition could be prone to Pharisaisism – focussing on externals rather than the reality.

    I admire his candour. It’s an example we can all learn from. It’s not as if the Reformed tradition, the broader evangelical tradition nor any of the more catholic traditions are in a position to cast the first stone.

    Yes, I had noticed the reference to a conducive Anglican church that you guys had found. I know you aren’t having a go at Anglicans per se … but I do find it odd that you’re setting yourselves up as judge and jury over a tradition that (despite your protestations to the contrary) you clearly know very little about.

    Oh, and by the way, I’ve spent most of my Christian life in independent evangelical or Baptist circles, not Anglican ones. So I’ve seen both sides of the coin.



  41. “But if the saints on earth and in heaven are interchangeable, I could and should be able to. Indeed, the saints of heaven ought to pray to us, and we ought to hear them and intercede to God for them as well.

    It’s all fond nonsense and a lack of trust in God; indeed unbelief in the intercession, proximity and relationship won with Christ’s perfect life and death. It is a soft negation of the gospel.

    “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Anglicans who pray to saints are in gross defiance of the rules and authorities of their church.”

    Oimph, I didn’t say that the saints on earth and heaven are interchangeable. And I do think that there might be a difference between heaven and Germany. If asking a fellow Christian (saint) here on earth to pray for us is not a lack of trust in God, why would asking a saint in heaven be a lack of faith? Yes, there is one mediator between God and man, but we all ask others to pray for us nevertheless. When they pray for us, are they not mediating for us? Any why in the world would we need to pray for the saints in heaven, who have been completely sanctified?

    Just something to think about…

  42. In response to Kamilla as an ordained minister and practising vicar of the Church of England for 23 years, I think I am perfectly qualified to say that the Anglican Church is most certainly NOT Catholic in any form. To taint the Church with the name “Catholic” is an insult to the martyrs who died to make this country a truly Protestant country.

    The 39 articles deny any such form of Transubstantiation, Apostolic Succession or any other types of Romish superstition.
    You are right that there are ‘high-church’ traditionalists….many of them homosexuals and liberals…. within the Anglican Church, however these people are unrepresentative of the Anglican tradition and thankfully are a minority (abit a noisy minority) within the Anglican Communion. We can only pray that they come to discover Jesus for who he is and that they attend a Bible believing Church for hearing the bible and where they don’t take part in Mary-worship!

  43. Mr. May — I don’t think Kamilla means anything Romish by “Catholic,” but is going for the sense of “I believe in the holy catholic church.” Using the term as she has done isn’t tainting anything, it’s reclaiming a word that rightfully belongs to all Christians.

  44. The term “Reformed Catholic” in other contexts:

    “As the Church of England bases its teachings on the Holy Scriptures, the ancient Catholic teachings of the Church Fathers and some of the doctrinal principles of the Protestant Reformation (as expressed in the 39 Articles, and other documents such as the Book of Homilies), Anglicanism can therefore be described as ‘Reformed Catholic’ in character rather than Protestant. In practice, however, it is more mixed, with Anglicans who emphasise the Catholic tradition and others the Reformed tradition. There is also a long history of more liberal or latitudinarian views. These three ‘parties’ in the C of E are sometimes called high church or (Anglo-Catholic), low church (or Evangelical) and broad church (or Liberal). In terms of church government, unlike many of the Protestant denominations it has retained episcopal (bishop) leadership.” (from the Wikipedia article on the Church of England — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_England#Doctrine_and_practice)

    “William Perkins (1558 – 1602) was a clergyman and Cambridge theologian who was one of the foremost leaders of the Puritan movement in the Church of England.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Perkins_(Puritan)) He was the author of “A reformed Catholike, or, A declaration shewing how neere we may come to the present Church of Rome in sundrie points of religion, and wherein we must for euer depart from them : with an advertisement to all fauourers of the Romane religion, shewing that the said religion is against the Catholike principles and grounds of the catechisme” (1597)

  45. And what I am saying is that we as Protestant Reformed Christians should not use the term Catholic… at all. We are Protestants and we should be proud of that. We protest against the Roman Catholic faith!
    Yes, in an academic context we could use the term “catholic” when we think back to the ancient days, we are part of Christ’s universal Church. But we must never utter it out loud should confusion occur and we become tainted by the Pagan Heresy which is Roman Catholicism.

    The Liberal/High Church side of Anglicanism is one of the same heresy that Roman Catholicism is to be associated with: Pagan Idol Worship (See Article 22), Wafer Waving (Article 28).
    We have no “Apostolic Succession” or any other superstitions to be associated with Catholicism (Article 36), we ordained by God’s authority in heaven and by the law of this land. The bishop of Rome has no jurisdiction here (Article 37)

    I strongly encourage you to repent and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, rid yourself of the Catholic heresies and read your Bible. I have taken it upon myself to write your pastor (Dr. Glen C. Knecht) a letter explaining the heresies you seem to have written on this blog and hopefully he will explain in a loving manner the errors of your ways and will provide an opportunity for you to repent.
    You are going to a good Reformed Evangelical Church so there should be no reason for you to believe that Anglicans are anything but Protestant (being destroyed on the inside by liberal homosexuals and high-churchman I might add)

    Yours in Christ
    Rev. Dr. Robert May.

  46. Wow. I cite the Apostles’ Creed and I’m a heretic? Wow. I refer to others’ use of the term “Reformed Catholic” and I’m a heretic? Wow. I can think of another word ending in “-tic” and starting with a reference to the moon that aptly describes your assertions.

  47. “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:” (Hebrews 12:25 KJV)

  48. Wow, Valerie, you’ve been Morecrafted!

    I’m sure this will all work out to the Reverend Doctor’s satisfaction. When your pastor takes your side, the Reverend Doctor will have the pleasure of declaring your entire church anathema.

  49. Bekah, No question you’re a gifted writer. I laughed out loud and long. Maybe your assumptions need a little tweaking. Lots of tweakers out there…

  50. Next thing you know Valerie will be charged with misspelling lose/loose and an improper use of the word “comprise.

    What is this world coming to 😉

  51. Well, I suppose someone unashamed to singlehandedly evict me from Christ’s one holy catholic and apostolic church wouldn’t have any qualms about singlehandedly evicting me from someone else’s blog. But I will let the Lord of the former (and the beloved shepherds under whose care He has been gracious to place me) and the ladies of the latter be the judges of whether I’m to leave either.

  52. I’ve been thinking about virges and vergers. Though I’m sure Bekah knew what they were before she wrote of them, I’m new to the notion. It occurs to me that rather than a “wispy assistant” carrying a ceremonial weapon that’d be of little more use than a spoon if actual 21st Century violence broke out, it might be better to have a couple of burly guys packing heat.

  53. Valerie,
    Maybe that’s why two men were when we visited the CREC church in Virginia Beach! Now I get it! (The third guy had a cell phone in his holster–maybe to call 911 if the other two had to deal with a “situation”?)

  54. Rev. May writes, ” Yes, in an academic context we could use the term “catholic” when we think back to the ancient days, we are part of Christ’s universal Church. But we must never utter it out loud should confusion occur and we become tainted by the Pagan Heresy which is Roman Catholicism.”

    As a member of the ACNA and per the BCP. each Lord’s day I, along with millions of Anglicans world-wide, recite the Nicene Creed which states, “And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church…”

    Happy to be that kind of heretic.

  55. I like the new “Bekah’s Spouting Off Again” category on the blog. I look forward to the next spouting.

  56. Barbara I shall pray for you that you leave the acna group, they have also been infiltrated by the liberal movement such as accepting women’s leadership and the high church movement.


  57. Rev. May, have you removed the Nicene Creed from your liturgy?

    The image of a vicar of the CoE beholding motes in the eye of another Province is amusing, but in reply, the ACNA is still in its fledgling stage and will be addressing women’s ordination (not a universal practice among its constituents) in due time. Rather than pulling out of the ACNA, I’d rather see my church, the Reformed Episcopal Church, work & pray toward a consensus in accord with the Constitution and Canons of the REC, a major constituent of the ACNA, namely, “Section 9 In accordance with the plain teaching of Holy Scripture, and the historic practice of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, only males may be admitted as Postulants for Holy Orders in this Church.”

  58. Bekah, just a couple of points that I don’t think anyone else has addressed.

    First, you make a reference to Jesus’ comment about phylacteries (aka tefillin). I don’t think we have any reason to believe that Jesus was not an observant Jew; therefore, he wore tefillin as well. So wearing the tefillin (which are not the same thing as stoles, or copes, or whatever the clergyman offended you by wearing) is not in itself a bad thing. Jesus is here criticizing those who were meticulous in their ritual observances but ignored or contravened the ethical prescriptions of their religion.

    Second, you have some sharp words for the bishop’s seat. I am aware that many cathedrals are very ornate, and that this is probably not to your taste. I question, though, whether you can assume that your opinion of the poor taste in which the church is fitted is necessarily God’s opinion. The bishop has such a seat in respect to his office–not to the man, never to the man. Anglicanism, like other churches which believe in the historic episcopate, believes that bishops are the successors to the apostles, and that they are due honor and obedience as a result of this office. I have known several bishops, and I would suspect only a few of them to have actively sought episcopal consecration for their own prestige or power. And here again, Jesus is criticizing just that sort of self-seeking and inattention to the needs of others; something that I’m at a loss to abstract from your criticism of the cathedra (the Greek name for the bishop’s seat, whence our word cathedral).

    In short, your criticisms seem to be based on your assumption that the clergy you describe are filled with a sense of their own importance, something which I doubt you could know merely from watching them during a liturgy. I am myself a priest, and when I say Mass I assure you the last thing on my mind is how important I am; I take very seriously the words “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof”. And though I’m not particularly bothered by the ignorance of liturgical custom that you show in this entry–it’s a big world and none of us know as much as there is to know–I am troubled by what seems a uniquely American pride in that ignorance.

    Confidential to Fr May (yes, like it or not, if you’re a C of E vicar duly ordained by a bishop, you are a priest) : leaving out or altering the Creed is tantamount to rewriting the prayerbook. Aren’t you folks required to conform to the BCP anymore?

  59. This has suddenly become less of a lark and a more interesting conversation. Thanks, Fr. Weber.

  60. The Church of England does not use the Book of Common Prayer and instead uses common worship in which there are many options to replace the creed with a generic statement of faith.
    My Church rarely uses a written liturgy as we do not believe that written liturgy gives God the spontaneous glory he deserves so our services mainly fit in the catagory of “Services of the Word”

    I say the Lord’s Supper quarterly at the 11:15am meeting and every Sunday at 7:15am – I do not advertise the early Lord’s Supper meetings as it is only for the benefit of keeping canon law and pleasing the elderly. I plan to make the service earlier soon and replace the 7:15am meeting with a bible study. The Lords supper is usually celebrated according to Common Worship Order 2 with alternative statements of faith and to an absolute minimum we do not use popish innovations such as candles, robes or altars. In fact I have reordered my church so that it has no altar at the front instead we have an open bible there is a Lord’s Table in a side chapel which I wheel out for the Quarterly Lord’s Supper meeting.
    At the 11:15 meeting we say communion from the bible, often omitting the “magic words” which causes so much superstition amongst catholics.

    Rev Bob May

  61. Congrats to Fr. Weber, who of all the critics of my dear wife, has come closest to that lost art of what the ancients called ‘interacting.’ Contrary to some of the preceding hyper-ventilators, jumping up and down with one’s sacral panties in an outraged wad, is not the same thing as making a point. Fr. Weber has, instead of flecking us with his spittle, tried to respond to Bekah’s actual criticisms. I think he missed it. But I give him high marks on the effort front.

    Here is why I think he missed it. If you reread the post you will note that Bekah was not trying to draw out of Mt. 23 a prohibition of phylacteries, but a prohibition of self-centered ostentation in phylactery wearing. I’m not sure where FW got the notion that Bekah was insisting that phylactery wearing was considered sinful per se.

    Second, regarding cathedras, FW says that he is not sure that Bekah’s tastes are in line with God’s tastes on this matter. That is, of course, a very important question. Where do you think we might find out a little bit about God’s tastes? Perhaps we could look in Scripture where Jesus teaches about seats (which is what Bekah’s reference to Lk. 14 was intended to do). If FW wants to take issue with this, then great, take us to the text. But it does no good to just blindly assert that maybe God thinks differently, as if he has never actually communicated a little something about his tastes to us.

    Lastly, and perhaps at the root of all of this, the Fr. takes issue with Bekah’s assumption that she could infer a bit about the spiritual health of the folks at Canterbury Cathedral based on what was going on in the liturgy and from the way that the church was arranged. Now a brief, but very important aside. A number of the commenters on this post have assumed that we are very low church and opposed to liturgy, an assumption which is, as a matter of fact, pretty wide of the mark. We would actually be all in favor (“favour,” for those joining from across the pond – I’m totally bilingual) of a liturgically mature worship service. This is because we actually believe in liturgy. We believe that something is really and truly being said and done in our worship service, and that the meaning of liturgy is objective and significant.

    Now to come back to the Fr.’s objection. He said, “In short, your criticisms seem to be based on your assumption that the clergy you describe are filled with a sense of their own importance, something which I doubt you could know merely from watching them during a liturgy.” Why would you think that we can’t make a judgment from watching worship? Was nothing being objectively said in that service? You see, either worship is an objective and meaningful event, or it is some sort of post-modern voodoo service where everyone is allowed to ascribe their own meaning to the event (like those lame modern art paintings always accompanied by a little prose diatribe penned by the artist asserting that this painting is beyond meaning and cannot be contained). If it is the former, then of course those watching have a right to say something about what the event meant. If it is the latter, then why do you care that my wife’s meaning was different than yours? Clearly, worship is the former. It is the most meaningful act in which the church participates. FW’s assertion only make sense if liturgy is meaningless. And that is just too low church for me (and my house).

    And the Fr. is still skipping things like the seats reserved for the hoity toities (aside from the Bish’s cathedra) and the other nonsense parading around the Cathedral.

  62. We should not call Mr Weber “Fr.” as this an abbrieviation of “Father” and is in direct disobedience to Matthew 23:9 “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”

  63. I find it interesting that the person who identifies himself as Bob May, and claims to be a presbyter in the Church of England, is so opposed to any use of the Book of Common Prayer, still the official and principal liturgy of the Church of England, and also, and unsurprisingly, has no entry in Crockford’s.

    In any event, I wonder what appellation Mr May was accustomed to use for the man who impregnated his mother?

  64. Anyone besides me wish that people would take this conversation elsewhere and spend more energy encouraging the saints? Me, I want some ideas for celebrating Epiphany.

  65. I have been looking at the replies on this blog, and have become increasingly distressed at the way in which so-called Christian people have such great difficulties in acknowledging each other to be part of the body of Christ.

    One thing that particularly confuses me is Bob May’s assertion that the Church of England ought to have no contact with the term ‘catholic’. If he is, as he claims, a priest of the Church of England, then he will have made the Declaration of Assent on at least two occasions, and probably many more. This declaration, required by law, begins with a preface by the bishop which states ‘The Church of England is part of the one, holy, CATHOLIC and apostolic church.’

    In addition, his claim that the Church of England does not use the Book of Common Prayer is quite false. I find myself celebrating the Eucharist and leading the offices in many churches, and I regularly come across the Book of Common Prayer, which remains the doctrinal standard for the Church of England. Indeed, Common Worship is, like its predecessor, the ASB, only an alternative to the BCP. It remains the fact that if a parish and their priest disagree as to which liturgy to use, the BCP becomes the default.

  66. What about the Ornaments Rubric, Fr May?

    I am aware that CW is approved for use in the C of E; but the 1662 BCP is still on the books. I know that CW is more commonly used these days, but as far as I’m aware the 1662 is still the foundational liturgical text. Calvin disagreed with you about calling priests “Father,” by the way. Or is he a hellbound Popish Romanist crypto-Papist, too? (And with that, I’ve exhausted my Paisleyisms for today)

    Thanks, Ben, for your response. I agree that the meaning of liturgy is objective, and that it is an objective act. But what is performed is not always what is received; a look at the comments on this post, not to mention the initial post itself, is proof of that. If I didn’t know a particular clergyman, I would reserve judgment on the state of his heart rather than attempting to abstract it from the way in which he behaves in the liturgy. So with both the phylactery comment & the cathedra comment, my point is that ascribing self-centered ostentation to those clergy is a bit of a leap. You’re acting on inference, and making assumptions based on information you don’t really possess. Wouldn’t charity demand that we be more careful?

    The passage in Lk 14 is referring specifically to behavior at weddings and other festive occasions. I don’t really see how it’s applicable to church services, except by misunderstanding the context of Jesus’ remarks, the thrust of which seem to be the unseemliness of egotistical social-climbers scrambling for the best seats. A bishop, by contrast, holds high office in his diocese, and is entitled ex officio to that seat, just as a father is entitled to the seat at the head of his family’s table. You can’t assume that the bishop is an egomaniac for sitting in the cathedra any more than you can assume your dad’s an egomaniac for sitting at the head of the table to offer the grace or carve the meat. A bishop is therefore not necessarily exalting himself by taking the seat which is his ex officio. If you find, in conversation with him, that he is an egomaniac, then of course that’s a very different thing.

    My assertion that God might think differently needs to be unpacked a bit, because it wasn’t clear. I suspect that Bekah’s taste was, in the final analysis, more offended than her theology was. If you go into a RC church in the Midwest, quite often you’ll find statues of the Infant of Prague–a representation of the baby Jesus holding an orb surmounted by a Maltese cross, and wearing an imperial robe and crown. My first reaction on seeing this is to mutter “Tacky, tacky, tacky” under my breath. And yet, this is an honest and sincere devotion of many Catholic Christians to the Infant Jesus. Who am I to assume that because it’s not to my taste, then God must be offended as well? Likewise with the “whirligigs” and so on. If they’re not to Bekah’s taste, of course she shouldn’t torture herself by subjecting herself to them any further. Full-on cathedral worship may just not be her thing–and fortunately, the Anglican tradition has everything from Anglo-Papism (just like the Novus Ordo, only more tasteful) to Fr May’s Presbyterianism-with-bishops.

    I didn’t comment on the seats for the hoity-toities because I don’t know Canterbury Cathedral and thus am not sure what she’s referring to. Does she mean the seats within the chancel/sanctuary for other clergy & servers? Or are these “private pews” for dignitaries, etc.? (I don’t like that much either, to be frank) Likewise with the other nonsense she refers to. It all sort of sounds to me like she prefers less glitz and fuss in the liturgy–which doesn’t make her a bad person or a heretic, but on the other hand another person’s preference for a more gussied-up service doesn’t make them a bad person or heretic either. And from her description, I wonder if the “gay” cleric she describes was not, in fact, a woman? (The C of E does that these days; sad, I know. And yet the indefatigably orthodox and reformed Fr May is still a member of it! Curious…)

    Finally, Natalie : we’re discussing a blog post in a combox attached to that post. I’m not sure what more appropriate venue there could be for the discussion. I notice that you have a blog, though: perhaps you could solicit Epiphany ideas there? Otherwise, your request is a bit like a person walking into a room where a conversation is going on, announcing that the conversation isn’t to her liking, and asking that people talk about something else. Which is fine, as long as it’s your house, but awfully strange in someone else’s.

  67. Begging your pardon, Fr. I suppose that when a person decides they don’t want to participate in something there’s always the egotistical urge to air their complaints in public. I’ll return to my own blog now.

  68. Could it be that dear Bob is an impostor? This especially is bizarre: “I say the Lord’s Supper quarterly at the 11:15am meeting and every Sunday at 7:15am – I do not advertise the early Lord’s Supper meetings as it is only for the benefit of keeping canon law and pleasing the elderly. I plan to make the service earlier soon and replace the 7:15am meeting with a bible study.”

    What vicar would force elderly people out in the dead of winter at 6AM just so they may receive Holy Communion? In the words of Joe Jackson, “There’s something going wrong around here”

  69. How good and pleasant is the sight
    When brethren make it their delight
    To dwell in blest accord;
    Such love is like anointing oil
    That consecrates for holy toil
    The servants of the Lord.

  70. Yes Barbara, the sign of a true liberal Christian is one that doubts the credentials of a person trying to preach the gospel to them.
    I am moving the Lord’s Supper to an earlier time with a deliberate aim for them to replace it with bible study which would be a much better use of their time.
    F.Y.I. I do not plan to move this meeting to 6:45am until April and will move it back to 7:15am in October.

  71. Fr. Weber,
    Nothing like running into calm reasonable discourse when the comments are numbering into the 80’s. Thanks for the interaction. True enough that not everyone reads the liturgy rightly, it takes wisdom. And it is also clear that reading the corporate liturgy is not the same thing as knowing what is going on in each and every individual heart involved in the service. So a person could say that they think someone read the thing wrongly. But they can’t say that thing can’t be read. On Luke 14, my hermeneutic must be a little different than yours. I can’t hear wedding feast without thinking of a number of other things, worship being high on that list. As for being restricted by our tastes, that surely happens. The church that we normally attended in England had a much more low church worship service than what we were accustomed to. But though we may have disagreed with the liturgical decisions that the church had made, we appreciated the heart behind it all and were perfectly capable of earnestly worshiping alongside our brothers and sisters. We have been at a number of churches like this, where our tastes differed, but we were in agreement on much more fundamental things. We didn’t find this at Canterbury. That’s not to say that the whole thing is doomed. But, to paraphrase my wife, there is some bad juju there. And my wife is too busy with other things to comment at the moment, but she’s yelling at me to make sure I mention that she knows how to tell a gay man from a woman. It’s a special sixth sense of hers. Cheers again.

  72. This project deserves support. I’m doing what I can.

    (Even cheating, with fake accidental double posts.)

  73. My sister was listening to some of Mr Wilson’s audio teaching (the ‘Mothers & Daughters’ audio series) today. When I looked at your post later in the day and all the commenting, I remembered the verse that Mrs Wilson taught on concerning daughters from Psalm 144 ‘…our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace…’. You are such a lovely example of what Mrs Wilson talks about and you doing it cheerfully and with a great dose of humour! Thankyou for this post. You are such an inspiration in so many ways.

  74. Well now. This was all very interesting. I wonder if the main point that comes through all this trans-atlantic squabbling isn’t the limitation of our current mode of communication: 1) Electronic media are imperfect for conveying the full meaning of an utterance (ie: prone to misunderstanding, emoticons not withstanding) and 2) the medium is too fast-response for wisdom/judgement to really exert its intended force. It is too easy to click “submit” and then it’s done, believe me, I know. Apart from any real “hatefulness” that might exist with some, I’m betting the tenor of the discussion would have been quite different if everyone had been in the same room with one another talking over a cup of coffee…

    Anyhow, a great and lively discussion, which my wife and I have enjoyed, with a bit of reservation about the perceived tone of some of the posts. Would that we would all strive to follow Christ in love and charity, yet be angry without sinning when necessary. The Christian Church is taking a beating for all sorts of reasons, yet God is still in control. Would that we could spar about what’s really important and sharpen one another in Christ-like love. The Church would be better all ’round.

    Now, where did I put that spoon…

  75. Okay, I know I am very late on the line up here but this all has had me in stitches for two days. Yes, it has taken me two days to have the time to go back and forth from Femina to Ship of Fools and back to Femina, to read all this fun hubbabaloo. And I must post this comment from one of the hooligans over at Ship of Fools.
    “Maybe someone should tell this woman about the old Shrine of St. Cuthbert and Durham Cathedral. That would send her into the loony feminist fringe in no time…her poor pastor would no longer know quite what to do with her (Not that she probably isn’t a problem person for him to begin with….)”
    “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

    I could not stop laughing. Knowing Bekah a bit and having the inside scoop that her pastor is her father; this is quite, over the top, hysterical to me.

    This has been my favorite thread on Femina hands down.

    My hat is off to Bekah and Valerie. I will take you two out to coffee anytime. To me, there is nothing like a woman who is clearly well read, knows her bible and Christian history, listens and discerns with wisdom. These are the kind of women that are not easily toppled or provoked and this is why I have loved this post and have a deep affection for the ladies in the Wilson Clan. Femina has been and remains a venue for challenging women to be those polished cornerstones God calls all of us to be. Here is to a good discussion which I think the fathers and Ben helped to stir up and to that “dragonette” Bekah Merkle, spout on!!

  76. Wow! When I first read this post (and had a good chuckle) there were three or four comments. Who knew it would turn into such a fireworks display? It seems that by throwing a couple of winks and nudges into a theological discussion, you’re flicking lit matches into a barrel of gunpowder. Bang. My screen is smoking.

  77. A little explanatory note to Mrs. Merkle’s most obstreperous critcs and defenders of the indefensible from of all plces Ralph Waldo Emerson:
    “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

    The lady is well educated in Scripture, well-versed in the Mother Tongue and theolgically astute. When such a person sees your actions, no matter how sharply you trill your “Rs”, she will not be dissuaded. As an innocent by-stander, I must say her eloquence has been far more convincng than the ad hominem tantrums of well…a ship of fools.

  78. I think it would be fun to go with a group, sit right up front, and stay seated during all the “processing” and then stand for the scripture reading.

  79. David H,
    In any Anglican service, cathedrals included, the congregation should sit, stand, kneel, do headstands or interpretive dance according to conscience and guided by the Holy Spirit.
    So go right ahead and do and do as you say, but only if it is the Right Thing (TM).

    If it just pride, snark or a desire to be disruptive talking, then it probably comes under sin. Don’t worry, they have general confession so you will have chance to lay that at the Cross.

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