Sunday, December 28, 2008

Trinity at Christmastide

Since all the cool kids are doing it, here a few photos of my home parish all dressed up for Christmas:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Are you happy, or are you alive?

This is so great. Thanks to Evan for sharing.

"The Christmas celebrations will certainly remain, and will certainly survive any attempt by modern artists, idealists, or neo-pagans to substitute anything else for them. For the truth is that there is an alliance between religion and real fun, of which the modern thinkers have never got the key, and which they are quite unable to criticize or to destroy.

"All Socialist Utopias, all new Pagan Paradises, promised in this age to mankind have all one horrible fault. They are all dignified. [...] But being undignified is the essence of all real happiness, whether before God or man. Hilarity involves humility; nay, it involves humiliation. [...] Religion is much nearer to riotous happiness than it is to the detached and temperate types of happiness in which gentlemen and philosophers find their peace. Religion and riot are very near, as the history of all religions proves.

"Riot means being a rotter; and religion means knowing you are a rotter. Somebody said, and it has often been quoted: 'Be good and you will be happy; but you will not have a jolly time.' The epigram is witty, but it is profoundly mistaken in its estimate of the truth of human nature. I should be inclined to say that the truth is exactly the reverse. Be good and you will have a jolly time; but you will not be happy. If you have a good heart you will always have some lightness of heart; you will always have the power of enjoying special human feasts, and positive human good news. But the heart which is there to be lightened will also be there to be hurt; and really if you only want to be happy, to be steadily and stupidly happy like the animals, it may be well worth your while not to have a heart at all.

"Fortunately, however, being happy is not so important as having a jolly time. Philosophers are happy; saints have a jolly time. The important thing in life is not to keep a steady system of pleasure and composure (which can be done quite well by hardening one's heart or thickening one's head), but to keep alive in oneself the immortal power of astonishment and laughter, and a kind of young reverence. This is why religion always insists on special days like Christmas, while philosophy always tends to despise them.

"Religion is interested not in whether a man is happy, but whether he is still alive, whether he can still react in a normal way to new things, whether he blinks in a blinding light or laughs when he is tickled. That is the best of Christmas, that it is a startling and disturbing happiness; it is an uncomfortable comfort. The Christmas customs destroy the human habits.

"And while customs are generally unselfish, habits are nearly always selfish. The object of a religious festival is, as I have said, to find out if a happy man is still alive. A man can smile when he is dead. Composure, resignation, and the most exquisite good manners are, so to speak, the strong points of corpses. There is only one way in which you can test his real vitality, and that is by a special festival. Explode crackers in his ear, and see if he jumps. Prick him with holly, and see if he feels it. If not, he is dead, or, as he would put it, is 'living the higher life.'"

--G.K. Chesterton, The Illustrated London News, 11 January 1908.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Pendulum

This is a post from The Rose Maniple:

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There seems to be a perception in certain quarters that North American Anglicanism is getting more and more liberal as time goes by. That may be true in a sense, but it is not a linear development.

I am an Anglican, and I am twenty years old as of this writing. I certainly know young Anglicans who are very keen on the Book of Alternative Services, and all kinds of doctrinal laxity. But most young Anglicans I know are not in this category. It may be true that most (though not all) of us are "liberals" on the "hot-button" issues of women in the priesthood, and same-sex partnerships. But we also take the Creeds seriously and hold firm to Nicene and Trinitarian orthodoxy. We have a high view of the sacraments, and believe in the Real Presence and apostolic succession. We're waiting for the Baby Boomers to kick the bucket so that we don't have to listen to them tell themselves how "inaccessible" we find the Book of Common Prayer. Then we can bury their tie-die stoles with them and crack out the maniples and birettas. I don't mean to be overly crass: the pendulum is swinging the other way, and honouring the example of those who came immediately before us doesn't necessitate that we mimic them when we come to assume positions of Church leadership.

We are anxious to make our contributions to the Church. Take vocations to the ordained ministry. Anglicans my age will seek ordination to the diaconate and priesthood as a first career to a greater extent than have the clergy of our parents' generation.

The churchmanship of the future is high on sacramental grace and mystery, broad on doctrinal interpretation (within the historic formularies of the Church), and low on dogma, kitsch, and minimalism. It expects much of its followers and yet forgives much. And I for one am very much excited to be a young Anglican at the turn of the twenty-first century.

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Me too.

You know, speaking of exclusion, I have felt excluded when priests do the whole poncho and communion-in-a-sippy cup thing. On one hand, I want to participate in the life of the community. On the other hand, I can't, in good conscience, bring myself to support a perversion of the tradition and beauty I fell in love with. Anglicanism is about via media not mea media. People on both sides need to realise this.

I look forward to a future where we can "expect much" and "forgive much." I am seeing more and more women in the Church who reject the presumed 'stereotypical' low-churchliness of their predecessors. We look to leaders like the Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Edmonton and prominent, fabulous, progressive and unapologetic Anglo-Catholic. Deus vult!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008