Tuesday, May 09, 2006

From Touchstone: "No More Hims of Praise"

(Tip to Wyclif)

According to Anthony Esolen, writing in Touchstone magazine, comments on the hymnal version of the latest trend in liturgy emasculation. It's bad enough in The Hymnal 1982 that there's hardly a male pronoun in the whole thing other than those referring to God. The resulting Bowdlerization is often painfully unpoetic (or at least jarring, to those of us who remember the real words), but at least they aren't heretical.

Well, apparently that wasn't enough. So here we have a familiar hymn as further corrected by some RC hymnodist:

Praise the Lord for grace and favor
To all people in distress,
Praise God, still the same as ever,
Slow to chide and swift to bless.
Alleluia, alleluia! Glorious now God’s faithfulness.
Does that not fill you with holy fervor? No? So what if the grammar is a little, um, tenuous. So what if the awkward chisel marks of political correctness mar the finish. After all, we can do without beauty in liturgy, can't we?

Frankly, I had hoped this disease could be confined to the pages of Enriching Our Worship or other follies of Anglican liturgical revisionism. And kept there, and never approved for permanent use. Or better still, suppressed. What is most striking about the ongoing revision of ECUSA liturgy is the utter denial of the past. I don't buy Peter Toon's attacks on the 1979 BCP for a minute, but the differences between it and subsequent trial liturgies puts 1979 in the bizarre position of arch-conservatism. Structurally 1928 and 1979 are very different; theologically (except for some questionable changes in the ordinal) they are different points on a continuum of emphasis. These new works are emphatically not, to the point where I must reject them.

If we can't say the ancient names of God, we have cut ourselves off from the Church. For the church must be able to tell us something about God, and surely His names would count as a pretty crucial "something". So what we are getting is a reversion to ante-Nicene Christianity-- the bad part, what with Gnostics and various anti-trinitarian heresies. In the Pagels/Ehrmann fantasy world of a Jesus perverted by the church this might make sense, but that world isn't the real world. In this world, when the church is set up as teaching that everything it had to say for the last 1600 years, both morally and theologically, is dubious if not outright in error, there's every reason to turn away from that church, or at least from those who present it that way.

If Jesus calls God "father", and commands us to do the same, who are we to improve upon his morals and his theology? Let Confessing Reader's daughter have the last word: “That’s just stupid.”

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