The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Via Media?

Why I'm an Anglican (And Why I Really Don't Know What That Means)

Having given a negative response to why I am not something, it is only fair that I say what I am. In reality, I washed up on the beach of the Anglican Continuum after I left the monastic life last January. Those who want to do some archeological work can go back to the beginning of this blog and see my progression from a bitter pseudo-RC traditionalist ex-monk to the liturgical crypto-Protestant you are reading now. I fully admit the theological speculations on this blog are eclectic, disjointed, and sometimes incoherent. They can only reflect the confusion of their author. I really don't have the time to delve into anything in depth. In truth, my only exposure to the theology of the Anglican Way has been mainly through the Prayer Book as used in a number of different settings by congregations of diverse churchmanships. I have come to appreciate all of them for what they are, and I don't feel any real necessity to go a whole lot more in depth from what I already know.

Of course, when I first began to go to Anglican services, I really wanted to study the theology behind it all. What I found was complete theological Jello (some of it was tasty Jello, though). There is never one answer in Anglicanism, and agreeing to disagree seems to be the order of the day in most things (as long as you are a gentleman about it). I wanted to ask the Anglican Church at the foot of the altar, "What should I think?" I have never gotten a straight answer. And I am learning that maybe that is precisely the answer.

When I was barking up the Catholic and Orthodox trees, many theologians were very eager to tell me what to think, how to pray, and why it is all so very important that I follow it all to the letter. Being of a rather melancholic disposition emotionally, I once thought it very necessary that I have a system that dominates my entire religious being almost militaristically. (If you have ever seen me serve at altar, it can seem that I move almost robotically.) The greatest cross of Anglicanism for me is that there is no absolutely right and wrong way to do things. Perhaps because of this, it all doesn't have a future. I have heard many a priest, layman, and outside observer say this. But if we in the Continuum do not have a future, it is because Christianity in general "doesn't have a future". We are not singled out for destruction.

Many of us who associate with the Anglican Way are now seeing our temples razed, our priests scattered, and our hymns silenced. Many on the outside look on with silent glee waiting to scavenge whatever is left for themselves. But like the Kingdom of Judah watching Israel being taken into captivity, maybe such a tragedy should be taken as prophesy of things to come. For this reason, at this point, I don't necessarily see Anglicanism as the fullest way to be in the Church of Christ. I like icons, Gregorian chant, troparia, Marian devotions, and the whole catastrophe. It may not be the most colorful way to do things, but it is at least the most honest. You can't flee from uncertainty as a Christian, and accepting that is the greatest act of Faith I have ever had to make.

If I am sometimes a great fan of "Prayer Book Reformed Catholicism", it is only because I see it as a special charism that should be preserved, and if we don't do it, who will? It is perhaps a more aesthetic approach to churchmanship than is acceptable, but it would be a pity if this approach faded into oblivion. I am, however, by no means convinced that this way is better than more Anglo-Catholic approaches to doing things. If we are seeing a new dark ages in terms of the Christian Faith, we will need all of the traditional voices of the past that we can preserve to get us through them.

So that is me in a nutshell. If you don't understand, I can assure you that things are not that much clearer for me. In any case, I thank you for your patience and as always, for your readership. God bless.


At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the great things about Anglicansism is that, at most, the few liturigical absolutes and limits that do get imposed occur in Public Worship (Common Prayer) only.

In our private prayer lives, we are as free to be as phil-Orthodox (icon corners, Byzantine Paryers a la Lancelot Andrewes and John Masons Neele); Spikey (kitchy sacred hear of mary statuary, kneelers, scapular, rosaries, angelus's. etc.); or Virgina low (BCP only) as you want.

Also, you can commemorate any Saints, Eastern, Latin, or British that you wish on your personal Calendar and Rule (Collects or Tropes availailable from numerous sources). And while you can seek a spiritual guide, and resort to auriclular confession -- none must.

Still, the Core of our Faith is the Apostles and Nicene Creed. And traditional, "Continuing Anglicans," stick tenatiously too it. Perhaps more so than even than Rome or the East.


At 10:41 PM, Blogger axegrinder said...

AV and DB,

Hoodie-Hoo! You guys are making some bold statements. I like it.

"But if we in the Continuum do not have a future, it is because Christianity in general "doesn't have a future". We are not singled out for destruction." (AV)

"Perhaps more so than even than Rome or the East." (DB)

I will be checking back in to see if the flames start flaming.

Jason Kranzusch

At 6:39 AM, Blogger Sean Roberts said...

Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

I agree with DB. The core is the BCP, the Creeds, the three-fold ministry, and the scriptures. I truly believe that many people do not find Anglicanism agreeable because their personality type. Some people worship logic and authority, and have to have everything answered for them. They want to be like Adam and Eve and "know the difference between good and evil" - they want to be God, and reject their human finitude. Anglicanism doesn't do this in every area of thought and life, though.

Anglicanism doesn't appeal to a lot of people because it is honest. It admits that there are different answers to the same question sometimes, and it doesn't push things beyond what can be proven by the scriptures. It does this, rather than errecting a huge system to answer every little question that can ever arise.

People from a strong, traditionalist RC background and a strong conservative Calvinist background can have the hardest time adjusting the Anglican way, precisely because those systems are traditionally so dogmatic and rigid. I would say that the problem with those systems is that they push things to far beyond what the scriptures will allow. Now, that means that there may not be so many answers, but at least it is an honest approach.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...


Word. It ain't easy but it's necessary. "I took out my gat and I heard six caps...."


You said it much more concisely than I did. Thanks for stopping by once again.

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