Sunday, July 25, 2010

Anglican Values 8: The Daily Office

Anglican Values 8: The Daily Office
February, 2000

Sometimes people ask me, What is distinctive about the Episcopal Church? So much seems similar to what others do - our Sunday service, form of church government, forms of private prayer, are all shared with or similar to what others do. But there is one uniquely Anglican form.

It is called the Daily Office, a forbiddingly bureaucratic title which might better be Daily Scriptural Prayer. It is the basic, fundamental form of prayer in our tradition. In its simplest form it consists of reading psalms and Bible lessons in the morning and evening every day. Nothing very special in that - except that Anglicans have evolved a unique format for this kind of prayer over our 450 plus years as a worshiping community.

The Daily Office has its roots in synagogue practice, in which men would gather and read the scriptures each day at a stated time. Early Christians continued this practice. When the monastic movement arose in the 200's and 300's, the monks and nuns would memorize the psalms and often would recite all 150 every day. When St. Benedict wrote his Rule for monks in the early 500's he arranged the psalms and scripture in eight services each day, saying the whole
Psalter every week. The Benedictine arrangement became the pattern for Christian scriptural prayer for the next 1000 years, becoming very complex with the addition of saints days, seasonal variations, hymns, and music.

One of the main agendas of the Reformation was to make Bible reading central to the prayer life of ordinary people. It was the genius of Thomas Cranmer, who produced the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549, to turn the eight daily monastic services into a twice a day format. The psalms were divided into a monthly cycle and the Bible was read through in course, a chapter from the Old and New Testaments twice a day. The new form, called Morning and Evening Prayer, was required to be said by the clergy in the Church every day, and recommended to the laity. It rapidly became the most important part of Anglican worship, supplanting the Eucharist as the main Sunday service in most places.

The Book of Common Prayer set out the readings for each day, and devout lay people as well as clergy soon made it the basis of their devotions. Countless millions of people over the years have started and ended the day with these services, often in family prayer at home. Its use led directly to the Anglican approach to Scripture. It works against a piety resting on proof-texted theological propositions, since a faithful user of this form of prayer will read the whole Bible through many times in a lifetime of devotion and become aware of the rich dialogues among Biblical theologies in that enormously complex library of holy writings.

[Note: This short essay was followed by a detailed and date-specific way to use the Daily Office, which is omitted here.]

Friday, July 23, 2010

Anglican Values 7: Scriptural Interpretation

Anglican Values 7: Scriptural Interpretation
October 1998

There is no more important area of theology today than the question of how we are to interpret scripture. Many of the current religious battles, both within and between churches (including our own), are fought on this important question.

Scripture is not simple but complicated. It is written in different languages and at other times for other people than our own. In the Christian world over the centuries there have been three main ways to interpret scripture.

The first and oldest is to look for the consensus of the faithful in the organized church. This has been expressed mainly in church councils and in the works of important theologians which have been accepted as normative in different ages. In ordinary life it means that scriptural interpretation is not private, but communal, and that what other people have thought over the ages is the shaping factor in interpreting Scripture: we listen to them and contribute to the dialogue from our own knowledge, point of view and experience.

The second is the classic Protestant position of sola scriptura, which is Latin for "scripture alone". In its original meaning to the Reformers this means that Christian belief is to be found only in Scripture, and that no other agency, such as tradition, church authority or personal experience, can be put on the same level as scripture.

The third position is the radical Protestant position of individual conscience, in which each believer is trusted to read the scriptures carefully, and in prayer and careful consideration, to reach the interpretation which the Holy Spirit gives to the conscientious believer.

The Anglican position was developed by the first great Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker, in the late 1500's. Bringing together all three classic positions, he stated that Christian belief had to rest on three principles, each of which had to be present and in accord: Scripture, Tradition and Reason. It is not enough to look to what the text of scripture alone says; nor is it enough to consult the past for the consensus of the faithful; nor is it sufficient to consult human reason individually or collectively. All three must be present and in accord for sure interpretation to be held by the Church.

This is an especially important question because of the growth of a new phenomenon in Christianity: fundamentalism. Early in this century an innovation in interpretation arose called "scriptural inerrancy", which is not precisely sola scriptura, let alone one of the other modes of interpretation. This holds that each word of scripture is literally true. This is a radically new form of interpretation, and is increasingly influential in the Christian world today. But it is not the Anglican way.

So when an important question arises, on which scripture speaks, Anglicans begin with careful reading of the text, paying attention to every aspect of meaning in the original language and culture, and dealing with nuances and differences in different parts of scripture on the same question. Then we go on and ask, how have others in the faith understood this question in their time? How does their understanding illuminate us? Then finally, trusting in the Spirit's guidance, we ask, What do our experience, reason, and conscience tell us, illuminated by scripture and guided by the consensus of the faithful in the past?

This is a complicated process. It is by no means as simple as opening up the Bible and finding a verse which speaks to our concern. We accept the great Councils of the Church as the Spirit’s revelatory work, authoritative for doctrine. But we are unlikely to accept as ultimately authoritative a contemporary interpretation by a particular Bishop, theologian, conference or synod of the Church on a question of the day. Interpretation always involves our best intellectual efforts. It is always a communal process, in dialogue with other Christians past and present. And it always involves an honest acceptance that our question is framed in our present life and understanding and by our own best efforts of reason and conscience.

Easy answers are not often Anglican answers. Final answers are hard to find in our tradition precisely because we believe that scripture is the Word of God constantly meeting people in their present situations. And as a result, sometimes what seems to be the secure Biblical answer to a question in one age will change in another. The Holy Spirit has led us to see that slavery is unacceptable, though scripture clearly accepts it. It has led to the acceptance of leading ministries of women in the liturgy, although scripture seems to reject them. It has led to an acceptance of some kinds of money lending, the basis of capitalist economics, though money lending at interest is clearly contrary to scripture. It has led to a more pastoral understanding of divorce and remarriage in many places, though scripture plainly condemns divorce.

Anglicans believe in the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Church for the problems of every age. and in the Word of God which is as alive and dynamic today as the day it was first encountered. The answers we receive are usually provisional, subject to better scholarship, more complete dialogue with the faithful, and to a more complete use of reason and experience. The fixed point for us is not simply the text of scripture, but also the presence of the Spirit in the Church and in the hearts of sincere and believing Christians of every conceivable sort and calling.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Anglican Values 6: The Beauty of Holiness

Anglican Values 6: The Beauty of Holiness
August, 1997

Roofs. Termites. Plumbing. Painting. Signs. Lawn sprinklers. Garage cleaning. The list of things we do for our church property is daunting, and this year the Vestry is determined to accomplish many projects we have known we need to do for some time. Work will be done. Inconvenience will be endured. Tempers will be frayed. Money will be spent.

Why do we care so much about the physical structure of the Church? A clergy friend of mine from another denomination explained to me once that in his tradition, the building is functional, a place to accommodate the real church, the fellowship of believing and practicing Christians. I was touched by his explanation. Sometimes I look around at the myriads of churches with very functional physical settings — rented warehouses, even — and have a sort of envy of their simplicity. But purely functional is not the Anglican way.

Back in the days when most Anglicans went to Evening Prayer, we regularly heard a verse from Psalm 96 at the beginning of the service: "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth stand in awe of Him." Anglicans care about the physical beauty of the Church. For century upon century we have built the very best we were capable of, and in every land where our Church has been planted, beautiful buildings have arisen -- sometimes simple but soul-filling, sometimes gloriously complex — and places have been nurtured to be worthy of the worship of the Lord of Hosts.

There is something about the way architecture, light, music, vestments, liturgy, the ordered worship of the Book of Common Prayer, even landscaping, come together, that is characteristic of Anglicanism. It can be absolutely revelatory to a visitor if it is done well, with joy and lightness and filled with the Spirit. A person can be lifted up to heaven by all of this beauty ~ or so it seems. And many people have found the Lord in the Church's beauty, beauty which reminds them what they were created to be, the high and beautiful calling of human life in this wonderful world of God's.

There is of course a danger of relying on the beauty alone and not practicing the gifts of the Spirit in person, of formalism, ritualism, or worse, idolatry — the beauty becomes its own reason for being. And we trust God to protect us from the dangers of the path he has set us on.

At St. Michael's we are blessed with an extensive property and with two church buildings, one of them a historic treasure without peer in our part of the world. We are blessed with people who love our music, liturgy, and the beauty of our worship. Thank God for our Vestry's decisions. Thank God for those in the congregation who will step forward to help us pay for this important work. Thank God for the beauty He has given us. Let us worship Him indeed in the beauty of holiness.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Anglican Values 5: Restraint

Anglican Values 5: Restraint
May, 1997

Restraint is an ingrained custom for Anglicans: we wish not to do or say things too directly, too blatantly, too obviously. We are happiest with liturgy in which the facts of life are alluded to indirectly, in sermons that make their points discreetly, in church furnishing and decoration that are "in good taste", in clothing that is restrained, not to say dowdy, in colors that are not too bright, in theological conversation that is polite and non-confrontational. It has been said in jest that Anglicans do not have sins, but lapses of taste. This habit of ours sometimes drives non-Anglicans slightly crazy.

I am writing this essay on April 23, Shakespeare's birthday, April 23, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon. His dramatic works include some 16 comedies, 11 history plays, and 11 tragedies, produced between 1590 and 1613. Shakespeare is the premier dramatist and poet of the English language, and all of us have read at least some of his work, if only in high school. It goes without saying that his influence on every aspect of English-speaking civilization is incalculable.

Why introduce Shakespeare into a discussion of Anglican values? Because he is the most important and representative writer of the Elizabethan-Jacobean period in which the Anglican Church took its characteristic shape and form. And also because there is something important about his dramatic work that bears on Anglican restraint.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), to avoid bloody and unnecessary religious conflict, it was forbidden to discuss theology and the Christian religion directly in plays produced for the stage. And so Shakespeare had to find other ways of treating the great moral questions of human life. He found them in stories from the past, in far-away locales, and most of all, in presenting them indirectly through the experiences of his characters in the drama. He treats of sin, but without direct theology: pride in Othello, greed in The Merchant of Venice, ambition and despair in Hamlet, deception in Much Ado About Nothing, the lighter and darker sides of patriotism in the history plays, and so on. But at no point does he preach, or state directly his points.

And this is exactly the Anglican style: when we want to make a point about faith or sin, we tend to tell a story, look for an example displaced from our own context, avert our eyes from the thing itself and trust in people's innate intelligence to apply the moral.

This may not be helpful to everyone in contemporary American culture. People flock to churches with more direct ways of expressing the faith. But it is our way, and it has produced something valuable in Christian civilization: space for difference, room for a person to make up his or her own mind without coercion, and most of all, an ample appreciation for the universality of God's love, laws and revelation that transcends religious language and is at home in palaces, humble homes, enchanted forests, battlefields, town squares and every other imaginable human habitation.

In Shakespeare, and in Anglicanism, Church is not the only place to look for God's plenty and God's truth.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Anglican Values 4: Complexity

October, 1996

What sets Anglicans apart from other Christians? All Christians believe that God is revealed in Jesus Christ, that the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth has set the seal of God's love on humanity and has given us the ability to lead new lives, that our lives are no longer limited by death but that God's new life waits for us beyond. But Christian differ in their emphases and explanations of this faith.

Many churches try to simplify faith and life for their people, and many people want this. What exactly does this or that mean? What exactly am I to do in a given situation? What exactly does the Bible say about this or that? These churches are often big and popular. Other churches offer program after program, their staff thinking constantly about how to appeal to the market of this or that age group or segment. And these churches are often big and popular.

The Anglican church may try to answer questions, and it may offer appropriate programs. But we also have a more complex life.

Anglicans are in dialogue with tradition and are not ashamed of the past. It is sometimes said that Americans are not interested in the past, but in the here and now, and in the future. I think this is true. But Anglicans are aware that what we are is a result of what we were, and that the circumstances of our lives were not created from the mind of God yesterday. And so we are in dialogue with the past. Our music is not just the music of our own day. The language of our worship is not simply what we think appeals at this moment. We value the dialogue we have with something other than ourselves, and we call others into that dialogue, because it is truer than ignoring what we and those who came before us were and did.

Anglicans know that some questions do not have fast answers. Many problems of contemporary life cry out for answers. The state of American family life, personal morality in a culture which values gain, greed and instant gratification, present challenges to all Christians. To some questions there are easy answers: not taking experience-altering drugs is better than taking them. Chastity for young people before marriage is better than promiscuity. But for some of life's questions, there are not answers but the shared experience of a loving community. When a marriage breaks up, when a child is inexplicably caught in a cycle of negativity and self-destruction, when our work presents us with two or more choices, each of which is less than ideal: in such cases it is not answers, but fellowship, friendship in the Lord, lasting and understanding relationships, which provide what we need. In such cases the Bible is a resource, not a lawbook, and theology is a helpful friend along a path new to us but worn smooth with the experience of others.

Anglicans know that God trusts humanity to co-create the future. We do not believe that God has a single "plan for man", but that the future emerges as we accept our place as His sons and daughters, growing up, as St. Paul says, into the full stature of adulthood in Christ. We are not cookie-cuttered into a lock-step pattern (to mix metaphors) but rather given power through our intelligence, moral discernment and faith to create the future with Him. We are set free from sin, justified in faith, and then trusted. Anglicans know that this complicates our lives, because we now have responsibility to build and to care for others.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Anglican Values 3: The Sanctification of Ordinary Life

ANGLICAN VALUES 3: The Sanctification of Ordinary Life
September, 1996

It is sometimes said that different Christian traditions are characterized by different doctrines of the faith in their worship and thought styles: Roman Catholics are said to be "Good Friday" Christians, Orthodox Christians, Resurrection Christians, and Pentecostals (of course), are of Pentecost. This does not do justice, of course, to those rich and wonderful traditions, but is useful.

Anglicans are often associated with the Incarnation, because we so fully believe in the presence of God in the ordinary things of life. One of our great poets, George Herbert, in two of our hymns, makes this point so excellently: “Let all the world in every corner sing, My God and King” (Hymn 402); and “Teach me, my God and King, in all things thee to see” (Hymn 592).

We often think that religion is "special" ~ so we put on our Sunday best (or we used to — remember hats and gloves!), we dust off our Sunday manners, and we head for Church, because Church is where God is, right? And we pay our respects - as decorously as we can and as well as the parson is able to produce that day's ritual drama – and pray for one or two things (we'd better choose carefully and not ask for too many things — lest God think us greedy) — and then, with a companionable handshake at the door (nice sermon, Reverend!) and a cup of coffee with our friends, we're on our way, our Sunday duty done.

But in our tradition, religion isn't "special" — it is every day. The first service in our Book of Common Prayer is not the Eucharist, but Daily Morning and Evening Prayer. The idea is that we will read scripture and psalms and pray every day. That's our tradition! And then come together once a week to join in worship with others.

Anglicans take special delight in the homely parables of Jesus: the parables of housekeeping, gardening, business dealings, family relationships, which our Lord, ever observant of God's inbreaking wonderful new life for his world, delights to tell. And as we read and meditate on these parables, we are encouraged to think of our own ordinary experiences as places where God comes in to dwell as well. A certain man had two sons: well, we have children. Now, let's see....; The kingdom of God is like a woman who lost a coin. When was the last time you turned over the house looking for something valuable?....

In so many ways in our Church we carry out this domestic quality of our understanding of Christ's inbreaking love. We make most decisions by consensus, like a family in real life. And like families, there are always loose ends, always discussions that aren't finished, always life carries on in an uninterrupted stream. Things are rarely tidy or absolutely complete. Our worship, while done as well as it can be, with good music from many periods, and using the rich resources of the past as well as the present, has a sort of "homely" quality to it in most of our parish churches - as nice and grand as we can make it, but we will still see the acolytes smiling at each other, we will enjoy the Rector's jokes in the sermons (well, most of them - but then, poor thing, he does try!), we will notice the new parts we aren't used to and remark on them, wonder at how that teenager is able to read the lessons so well, rejoice to hear our own activity or ministry announced. The church is our home!

George Herbert (in Hymn 592, using the image of the drudgery of a servant's work) makes a wonderful point: God turns our most ordinary tasks to times of grace: "This is the famous stone that turneth all to gold; for that which God doth touch and own cannot for less be told".

Friday, July 16, 2010

Anglican Values 2: The Bible

January 1996

Anglicans are people of the Bible. We read as much from the Bible in worship as any other Christian tradition, and more than some. The Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer, which is the basis of Anglican prayer life, is almost entirely readings from the Bible.

How do we read the Bible? That depends on what we think it is. Is the Bible a huge book which "has the answers", a talisman of security in a changing world? Anglicans believe it is more.

In Old Testament times Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets, and in New Testament times, Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist, the disciples and apostles, and others, encountered God directly. Their experiences, and those of many others became the foundation of Israel and the Church, whose experiences were written down and collected in what we now call the Bible.

So when Anglicans read the Scriptures, we know we are reading the experiences of people like ourselves who lived in the faith tradition stretching from Abraham to our own day.

What is characteristic of Anglican Bible reading?

First, Anglicans encounter the Scriptures whole. We don't proof text - that is, search the scriptures for support for positions we already "know" are right. Rather, we stand in awe of the goodness of God revealed in Scripture, letting it guide us in its own directions.

Second, Anglicans let the Scriptures speak to us in their own voice. The Old and New Testament weren't written in English to twentieth century people, but in Hebrew and Greek to people whose cultures and understandings of life were different from our own. Our Anglican diversity helps us with Scripture reading. We experience in our own lives the different ways people encounter the world, and so we are prepared to hear familiar words with new ears!

Third, Anglicans trust the Word of God in all its complexity. There are different voices in the Scriptures; Deuteronomy is in vigorous dialogue with Job. Memory has preserved more than one account of many events, like David's rise to the throne of Israel, and there are of course 4 Gospels, with many different recollections of Our Lord's life. This complexity of Scripture is heartening to Anglicans, because it shows that God's Word and his world are related, in glorious complexity and variety.

Fourth, Anglicans find truth in a living relation to Scripture. St. Paul warns the Galatians not to fall back into a life governed by the letter only and not by a living relation to Christ, who sets us free. Anglicans believe that God has called us into freedom in Christ Jesus, and that we discover our new life in Christ at least in part in our encounter with Scripture. Our lived experience is in dialogue with the ancient writings. Our present lives come alive when they are held under the light of scripture. God continually surprises us in this dialogue - in insight, in direction, in showing us the deeper mysteries of our life in His life, and sometimes in judgment.

Anglicans care about the Bible. It shows us the path through Christ in the Spirit to the Father. It is central to our prayer and worship, and spurs us on to acts of compassion and justice in building the Kingdom of God. We are truly People of the Book!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anglican Values 1

I have been practicing simplicity the past week or so by cleaning out some of my files, throwing the truly useless away and digitizing others. Among the latter I have run across my collection of the monthly magazine written for St. Michael's, Anaheim, during the years I was Rector there (1992-2001). I wrote a small essay each month, a sort of mid-90's blog before there were blogs (or at least before I knew about them and had one). Surprisingly, they still read fairly well, at least to me. Beginning in October, 1995, I intermittently wrote a series called "Anglican Values". I wrote it in the hope of articulating what I think are distinctive Anglican values, and I hope they are still true. And before my dear p.c. friends start in on me for being exclusivist, let me just say that every virtue I find and label Anglican can of course be found among others as well, mutatis mutandis. But not perhaps in quite the same combination and packaging.

Through the miracle of optical character recognition I am able to share them. I thought I would publish them between now and the beginning of our Long Retreat, on July 28, as a sort of pre-retreat project, and see if they generate any interest. I'll footnote things that might be unclear to non-St. Michael's types.
October, 1995

Today we hear a great deal about values. People are concerned that their families, communities, churches, workplaces represent and practice wholesome and helpful values. The current debate about values is an important and welcome development in a time in which the only value sometimes seems to be economic productivity. Church is a good place to look for values!

Every Christian church holds up Jesus Christ as Lord, proclaims His Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection as the source and power of new life in Christ, both looks forward to and tries to begin to live in the Kingdom of God, and learns and teaches new ways of living according to God's values. But God's graciousness is so great that he has given us many kinds of churches, from many backgrounds, and with many ways to approach the New Life in Jesus Christ. Each church proclaims the same Gospel, but finds in the variety of human experience different ways of living it, and different sets of cultural values it honors as it practices the Gospel. All are gifts of God, each is distinctive and value-able.

Our Episcopal (Anglican) Church has a distinctive history and tradition and so we have distinctive values we stress within the Gospel life. I want to share three with you this month. We are the historic "Church of England", and although the Anglican Churches are now as much American, African, Caribbean, Hispanic and Asian as English, that is our "root". We grew up as the Church for the Nation in a special way, and that has left us with three Anglican Values:

Anglicans Care About Different Kinds of People. The Church of England welcomed everyone in the nation, unless they specifically "opted out". And so we are comprehensive. We expect to have all kinds of people in our church, with a very wide range of ideas, economic backgrounds, interests, causes and concerns. We are interested in everyone's welfare, and Anglican churches typically have a great concern for the poor which leads us to help. St. Michael's Nearly New Shop* and Feed The Hungry Program** witness to this value. Today, our Anglican Church has reached out to embrace people of every land and many different languages.

Anglicans Care What People Think. We have a rich legacy, growing out of our diversity, of differences of opinion within the Church. Today we honor and value that, and try to participate in it as best we can. This means we care greatly about education, and we try to get the best education we can for our children. And it means that we listen to Scripture, to teaching and tradition, and to each other, and don't close off discussion very easily, so that we can hear God's voice in life's complexity. We know that God's world is not simple, and we treasure the depth, wisdom and variety of his Word, ever new in His creation.

Anglicans Care About Beauty. Our Church has a long and wonderful tradition of art, architecture, music and worship. The artists, composers and writers who are part of the centuries-old Anglican tradition are too numerous to mention - indeed, the English-speaking world derives its culture from Anglican roots. And so our worship honors the past as well as the present. We care about form and custom, and about preserving the beauty of creation, while in our own way adding to it, both at St. Michael's and in our lives.

These are three, but only three - a start! I hope to share more Anglican Values in this space again from time to time!

* Nearly New Shop: A thrift store operated out of a store front in a strip mall for many years by members of St. Michael's. The profits went primarily to fund charitable projects in the Anaheim community.
** Feed The Hungry Program: A dinner served at St. Michael's to all comers, mostly indigent and homeless, every Monday night at 6:00 pm for years and years. Those who came were guests: seated at tables with set places, and served on the church's best china. It had a very significant volunteer base from St. Michael's and others who joined in.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ecumenical Martyrs

Today in our OHC calendar we observe the feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher as martyrs, who were executed by the English government of Henry VIII for opposing the new structural definition of the Church of England, making the King the Supreme Head of the Church.

I'm reasonably sure that this is a quirk of OHC's practice. More and Fisher are not in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006, nor are they in the new Holy Women, Holy Men, the greatly expanded LFF. I think they are there because our community wants to acknowledge the suffering on all sides which the English Reformation occasioned.

I had not thought about it until recently, but three times in my experience visits to Roman Catholic Benedictine monasteries have occasioned something rather different. Years ago I would visit the monastery at Valyermo for spiritual direction, with the estimable Thomas Duscher, OSB, later Fr. Romuald of the Camaldolese, now regretfully departed. On my last visit one of the masses was dedicated to the English martyrs, by which was clearly meant the RC martyrs. The same thing happened on a visit to another major monastery in the last two years (I don't want to identify it). I didn't think much of it at the time. But recently one of our brothers on a monastery visit also encountered the same commemoration at the mass. Hmm. Makes one wonder.

The Episcopal Church does observe the martyrdoms of Latimer, Cranmer and Ridley on October 16. Usually at these celebrations no great point is made of accusing the Roman Catholic regime then in power of wickedness. Rather, the point is often made of Cranmer's changeableness when faced with the stake. His witness was not one of undaunted principle and courage. In religious history, of course, Foxe's Book of Martyrs, the lives and deaths of the Marian Martyrs, was hugely important. For a very long time Foxe was the second best-selling book in the English-speaking world. The anti-Roman prejudice it whipped up was enormous, deep and long-lasting. Knowing this, I am not surprised at the continuing depth of RC sentiment about their own martyrs. But I am surprised how often they seem to be trotted out in monastic contexts when Anglican monks come visiting.

The Reformation is not over, of course. Some of what is going on in the Anglican Communion at the moment is a resurgent Calvinism, suppressed by Charles I just as it was getting going in a serious way in the early seventeenth century. It went underground, eventually finding a home in overseas missionary societies like the Church Missionary Society, whose work is now bearing much fruit in African and Australian contexts. And all the decades of friendly contact between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, with the present Pope at the middle of much of it, could be coming to an end in his oddly and obviously anti-ecumenical bid for Anglicans to become Roman Catholic.

I wish there had been some RCs at the Eucharist today. I wish that some of them had been monks, who could go home and say, Those Anglicans observed Fisher and More as saints at the altar when I was there. Maybe something pointed toward mutual understanding could grow from it, instead of something that sets us against each other, even after all these years.