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Joseph Howard
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How interesting to stumble back upon this thread after so long and see the reaction, not only to my comment, but to the way in which I signed my name (linked to my blog for those seeking further information about me). I have to disagree with James Altena's understanding just to the extent that I believe both services (the Churching of women and the Thanksgiving after the Birth of a Child) serve the same anthropological and theological purpose, with the changes introduced in the 79 BCP making a great deal of sense in a cultural context where infant mortality and the death rate of women in child-birth are much lower. In some ways it's a reverse example of what occurred with the reintroduction of Prayers for the dead in the 1928 American BCP following on the heels of World War I. As for my name, Jody with a "y" is primarily male, as I'm sure Jody Bottom at First Things can attest, though one can be forgiven for the confusion, as can those who so often write my name with an "i" or an "ie." As for the + after my name, it is a common practice in my neck of the woods for a priest, where a Bishop would place the + before their first name rather than after. I agree that it is to some degree an affectation whenever it is used, but it is helpful in conveying information and is hardly something to get bent out of shape about. I've observed, as others here have pointed out, that there are widely varying practices in different Christian traditions and in different regions. I use the "+" on blogs, not to convey authority, but primarily because it is the way I sign hand-written notes to congregants and others, and the informal communication of blog comments seems to be in the same category.
A few things I like to point out whenever this topic comes up: A) people in churches like to pretend they're using business best practices, when in reality they put them into practice with a degree of ineptitude that would only be seen in failing businesses. For whatever reason, church often brings the crazy out in people that would never come out elsewhere, or be tolerated elsewhere--especially amongst leaders. B) Christians should be careful when throwing around words like "business" and in adopting models that are not necessarily grounded in values consistent with the Gospel. The root of our word business is, in fact, "Busy-ness" which refers to something that was listed as a sin/vice in benedictine monasticism. The earliest definition was, according to the Oxford English Dictionary: "Anxiety, solicitude, care; distress, uneasiness" and around 1300 it was used to translate a familiar admonition of our Lord: "‘Martha, Martha’..‘In mikel bisenes ert thou’"... Often when people try to import business practices into the church, we fail at bringing in efficiency, focus and other positive habits that we might learn from, and succeed only at bringing that old underlying anxiety into the church, spreading it around and increasing our distance from kingdom work, all the while stroking egos and reinforcing the "crazy" and sometimes unethical behavior and decision-making that, as I said before, wouldn't be tolerated under other circumstances or in other walks of life. This isn't the place for it, but I'm keeping a list of things that religious organizations either 1) do on a regular basis or 2) don't do as a benefit granted them, that are in each case, to my mind unethical... maybe I'll blog it some time.
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Thanks for sharing this Gavin.
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I recall the first few times I heard the term "emerging church" and I assumed it referred to the early church. Eventually the disconnect between the term as I understood and and the context made me ask what these folks were referring to...
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Nov 23, 2009