Last week, I attended Anglican Insights at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) . It featured a different lecturer on each of the five days. I was glad to attend a class that has practical applications and resources that I can use in the parish. I stayed with friends in Orinda, the Revs. Larry Hunter and Jan Holland. In the class, an old friend from my seminary days, the Rev. Seth Polley, was there. I also made friends with the small group of us attending the class.
On Monday, Dr. Donn Morgan, Dean and President of the seminary was “Talking with the Bible.” Donn is also the professor of Old Testament. He said, “We can’t use the Bible as a weapon if we are in conversation with it.” He talked at length about James Kugel’s book, How to Read the Bible. Kugel uses historical criticism, but he posits a new way of looking at the Bible, seeing the Bible through the eyes of the people who wrote and edited the Bible. Both liberals and conservatives are uncomfortable with the ancient integration of midrash, allegory, etc. For the people who gave us the Bible, they never saw contradiction. they didn’t see two creation stories, different accounts of animals being loaded on the ark, Ruth being a rebuttal to Ezra and Nehemiah, etc. Since they didn’t see this, then how do we integrate the biblical text? At the end of the Old Testament, God is no longer a being, but instead focuses on service to God.
George Emblom, director of music at CDSP, talked on Tuesday with “What Makes Music Anglican?” He suggested that we strive for the best, but never expect perfection, because it never happens and just stresses people. Music should change hearts, not minds. He announced that General Convention is looking at a new hymnal for 2018. Music allows us to get out of ourselves and see God working in the world. When we hear or sing music, we are fully committed, especially for young people. When people talk about music being singable, they are talking about connected breath.
Wednesday we had Dr. Harold Lewis, rector of Calvary Church in Pittsburgh, with “The Elizabethan Unsettlement.” He described Anglicanism as “low and lazy, broad and hazy, and high and crazy.” That got a laugh while we hurriedly wrote it down. Harold, several years ago with his parish and vestry, sued the Diocese of Pittsburgh to keep the diocese in the Episcopal Church. He saw the hand writing on the wall and acted. He said that the point we transferred from the Elizabethan Settlement to the Elizabethan Unsettlement was when San Joaquin broke away from the Episcopal Church. This was about control, whereas Elizabeth I sought little control. The Anglican Covenant is un-Anglican. And according to Bishop Sauls it is un-Anglican because 1) the via media would be lost, 2) a literal interpretation of scripture negates the three-legged stool, 3) it is Calvinistic – no bishop as unity, 4) the baptismal covenant is threatened, 5) the Anglican Covenant makes theological teaching, which is not our polity, 6) stifles Anglicanism with doctrinal tests, and 7) the concept of justice is compromised.
“A Shared Pulpit” with Dr. Linda Clader, Professor of Homiletics and Academic Dean at CDSP was our Thursday time. She noted that there was a shift in authority around 1970. There was a move to inductive preaching to the listener. Sermons begin where the people are. What is heard is the sermon and not was prepared. Preaching is about outcomes. T. Long identifies four sermon models: 1) the pastor – starts with people’s issues or problem and offers the solution, the Bible (Fosdick), 2) the herald – preacher as proclaimer of the text (Barth), 3) the story teller – self contained story and the people have to make the connections (Garrison Keillor), and 4) the witness – the hearer has experienced something like what is said (Long). Adult learners want to hear what they already know.
The final day, Friday, had Dr. Ellen Wondra, Professor of Theology at Seabury-Western talk about “Problems with Authority in the Anglican Communion.” Authority is granted and claimed. It works when there is a match. If there is disparity then there is conflict. The three aspects of authority are 1) expertise, 2) role or position, and 3) personal characteristics (persona or gravitas). Authority is exercised three ways: 1) decision authority (my way or the highway), 2) consultative authority – shared decision making, and 3) advisory authority – receive advice before making a decision. There were visiting bishops from other parts of the Anglican Communion at General Convention. This was helpful, because the Episcopal Church makes decisions very differently from the other Anglican churches. We are very democratic. African churches, in particular, are very top down. Bishops make all decisions and the clergy and laity are to tow the line. It is helpful to have them see how we legislate. The Umbata or listening process at the Lambeth Conference also helped all sides of the Communion hear and understand each other.
This was a very worthwhile week.