Wednesday, January 11, 2006

You don't have to address God in 6th Grade English...

A year ago last Sunday, Epiphany Sunday 2005, I paid a visit to a local evangelical Episcopalian church. The people there are openly loving and caring people who do a lot of good and 'worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness' but would be unlikely to say so. After the service, the Pastor asked me what I thought and I hesitated before answering, "Well, today's music didn't have much to do with Epiphany."

I guess I should point out that music in Anglican services are supposed to reflect the theme for the day's readings. You shouldn't, for example, be singing "Away in a manger" on Good Friday.

I expect the Pastor 'got it' but I also suspect his music minister wouldn't have. And the reason he wouldn't have is because we have -- intentionally -- dumbed down Anglican Worship in the US. Any Episcopalian over the age of 40, for example, can properly use the formal English word "Wherefore" correctly without thinking about it.

The current prayer book, contrariwise, seems entirely too frothy... "Yay, God!"

My objections are mostly stylistic, or I thougth they were. Ponder with me now the following from Virginia Postrel, Economics columnist for the New York Times and writer extraordinaire in an essay she calls the "Pap-ist Threat:

Some years ago, an editor asked me how he could give his children an appreciation for the English language. He wanted them to write well. Since he's an evangelical Christian, I told him he should teach them Psalms from the King James translation of the Bible. My mother did that with me as a child, and it gave me an early sense of metaphor and rhythm. It taught me to appreciate, and understand, complex, beautiful English.

My friend didn't like my suggestion. After all, nobody reads the KJV anymore. Forget poetry (not to mention sensitivity to the underlying Hebrew), today's suburban Christianity is all about accessibility. It's been dumbed down.
You may read it all here

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