Monday, July 17, 2006

"It is not"

I found this really great post on a very fine blog called "Until Translucent." Beth articulates well a fundemental element of Anglican spirituality, namely just "show up" and it's "not about you." Well, she says it better....
To me, the greatest contemporary spiritual value that comes from embedding yourself in the entire liturgical Christian system may be that it's NOT ABOUT FREAKING YOU.

Anyway, when 2006 readers try to draw lessons from Benedict's Rule or the Book of Common Prayer (Benedictine as it is) or any of the other documents that assume the primary channel of spiritual formation is the group and not the individual, we probably need to hold in our minds that they arise out of a relentlessly corporate understanding of what Christianity itself is and what it means to be a Christian. Martin Thornton's English Spirituality, and Christian Proficiency, and most of the rest of his stuff, hits on this over and over: the Book of Common Prayer is not a resource, it's a SYSTEM. It's not an enhancing accoutrement to the worldview you already have and the faith-life you already created. It is the faith-life. It is the worldview. You didn't make it up, it's external to you, and it doesn't need your help. And this is why Anglican advice about spiritual formation tends to be so pragmatic and almost curt, boiling down to: show up. (And in the really articulate places: ask us if we do something you don't understand.)
Beth describes herself as writing from a liturgical community that resides in an old Boston triple-decker overlooking "abandoned places of empire," which sounds like perhaps near Gordon-Conwell. This looks like a community where there seems to be some generous orthodoxy at work here among some evangelicals with a bigger-than-your-average-bear view of mission. Read it all.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Hi Andy
Thanks for your kind words. We're not affiliated with Gordon Conwell, FYI, but live maybe 15 min from there. "Abandoned places of empire" is a phrase from Shane Claiborne of The Simple Way, referring to the concept that informal Christian communities are now locating in the rundown sections of cities that no one wants to live in anymore, in an analogous way to the sites where the early monastics chose to dwell outside of the empire's reach.