Monday, January 28, 2008

Mormon leader dies
He was behind some of the recent marketing implying his religion is a Christian church — it’s part of the same culture as the mainline churches and plays that up

Arturo Vásquez visits a Mormon temple (more)
The one I’ve seen from the motorway outside Washington, DC reminded me of The Wizard of Oz: ‘Surrender Dorothy’ indeed! Disney-fied as he describes them, they seem to appeal to the semi- or unchurched person (somebody who knows little about Christian theology but has picked up from the culture that ‘God... and Jesus’, the Bible and being a nice person are good things) who really worships American culture as one imagines it was in the 1950s.

Happened recently to pick up Separated Brethren, a Roman Catholic high-school-level book from the 1950s giving a fair and accurate overview of other churches, which listed Mormons, Unitarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses but explained they’re not Christians. On the first the writer noted they tend to naturally replace themselves and for all their missionary work don’t seem to convert many non-Mormon Americans, and that the Mormon is kept too busy — intentionally? — being a Mormon (temple and social life) to inquire into Christianity.

Liberal (not necessarily in a bad sense) for his day he also noted that translating services from Latin (few at the time asked for that!) might show commonality with Anglo-Catholicism (he was writing when the upper Mid-Western biretta belt, though a minority, was at its peak as arguably American RCs were as well) and high-church Lutheranism. Would that things went that way.

It’s fascinating to see what has and hasn’t changed: he also pointed out the Unitarians were stagnant in their numbers and have much in common with modernists in mainline Christian churches, the mostly make-believe world of vagantes (lots of bishops, few real churches) and the heterodoxy (universalism and Christological heresy shading into Unitarianism) of the PNCC’s founding prime bishop (which I’ll add was balanced/cancelled out by the conservatism of his parishioners; today it’s an orthodox Christian church with the downgrading of sacramental confession a remaining protestantisation). He hoped intercommunion with the Episcopalians (1946, ended by the by-then-conservative PNCC in 1977) would help steer the Nats back towards credal orthodoxy; after all it was 1958!

North American ACism as seen from across the pond
As expressed aboard the Ship. Take out the put-downs — the Pope bringing much of this back is not ignorant (he made professor in 1958!) and there are liberals who admit some of the scholarship behind the changes was wrong — and that’s why there are still Catholic parishes under the radar in the official Anglican churches there. Also, I don’t think a parish can sack the rector; the vestry (PCC) has a say in hiring him but only the bishop (who also does the actual hiring) can fire him.

Catholic practice worldwide never was monolithic (given different cultures and the historic lack of easy travel and communication how could it be?): witness the different rites and their local versions.
Some years ago I was in Jerusalem, and was attending an early morning Divine Liturgy at the Tomb of the Theotokos, which we all know is empty. Shortly after the Greek clergy began the Liturgy, the Armenians began their Liturgy at another altar, soon to be joined by the Syriac clergy who were serving in their rite at another altar. Soon after the Coptic and Ethiopian clergy began their Liturgy at a fourth altar beheind me. The mix of the chants was one of the most beautiful experiences that I have ever had. I looked up at an ikon of the Panagia Mother of God. As I prayed I smiled at her saying, ‘Dear Mother although your divided children may not celebrate together, nevertheless through their common love for you and your Son they do CO-celebrate the Divine Sacrifice of your Son. Thank you.’
Fr Gregory (Valentine)
I am not saying that I have a reputation for being a conservative Anglo-Catholic, but when I say ‘the Council’ folks tend to assume I mean Trent!
Fr Peter Robinson

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