Thursday, April 30, 2009

SD Bishop Candidates on Experimental Worship Language

Floberg, Tarrant and Stebinger affirmed that an authorized liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer should be the principal Sunday service in churches, and that any experiments beyond that should be with the Bishop's permission. Dunn left more room for Sunday experiments, but also affirmed the need for a bishop's permission. All noted that church history has times of change and exploration of worship language - Tarrant said there are "times of expansion and times of contraction" in the church's accepted language about God.

Floberg had a thoughtful response which took worship language in a missional direction. Speaking of efforts to create an interlinear English/Dakota service book, Floberg spoke of the search for a suitable English equivalent for "Grandfather", a traditional Dakota name for the Godhead. The term is understood in Dakota but in English would cause confusion and distortion of the Trinity. His team settled on the Biblical term "Ancient of Days." The principles Floberg offered were sound: find language that builds "convergence" among the faithful and find "common terms that maintain creedal faith."

Stebinger and Tarrant both made a good point about how they would weigh requests if elected bishop. Both made it clear that authorized experiments in language or liturgy must come up from a congregational effort, and not as the agenda of an individual priest.

Dunn talked about having used ten different liturgies with his bishop's permission. He did not mention the uncanonical practice of communion-without-baptism, and nobody asked. He offered a strange justification for experimentation - "We can't hurt God." While I would agree that God isn't going to be "damaged" by anything goofy we do, God can certainly be offended by misdirected worship, angered if lesser agendas are given divine status, and grieved if people for whom Christ died are led into falsehoods.

The question of worship language is important in this bicultural diocese. The effort to build faithful Christian liturgy that is enriched by various cultures without making the Gospel subordinate to them is a great opportunity and a noble undertaking.


Anonymous said...

Thanks again for your commentary.

I'm wondering if you have any insight on three things:

1. Did any of the candidates evince a sense of humor?

2. Did they seem energetic?

3. Any take on their wives?

TLF+ said...

1. All four seemed quite spontaneous in some humorous moments (microphone glitches, anecdotes in response to questions, things that came up). None of them are "stiff."

2. Yes - all had energy and all come from ministry settings that would seem to it.

3. Didn't get to meet all four so I can't say. I just got to say "Hi" to a couple so no real impressions to share. Bless them all for putting up with the ordeal of the walkabout week!

cp said...

The spouses all got to introduce themselves in Rapid City and speak about what they consider their role if their husbands are elected. I really liked all of them, but I wasn't surprised by that... honestly, how could these men get where they are without wonderful partners, really?

The spouses are on the Rapid City video.

cp said...

The spouses come up about 1:00 into segment 5/15.