Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Looking east

Haven't had a chance to post anything recently with all the transitions going. But I have been reading a little, and this caught my eye. Especially seeing as it is not about what has usually been hashed over for the last 2 years in the Episcopal blogsphere.

It is about the idea of returning to the more customary altar arrangement of the priest facing east with the rest of the congregation. Check out the original article here. And then read some commentary over at Titusone:nine.

Let me know what you think...

1 comment:

Bill said...

You may not want to know what I think, Jeff. But you asked ...

While the original article is well-written and deals with some interesting historical and theological points, I think it's seductively subversive. We want to honor tradition, but we dishonor it by turning it into a weapon.

Look at the commentary over on Titusone:nine. For crying out loud, they are making a mountain out of a molehill. Or in the more expressive and appropriate German saying, a thunderclap out of a fart.

If we turn the direction our altars and priests face into another cause for schism, I'm leaving. ;-) And, in fact, if we feel the need to kneel "with [our] face to the rising sun," we will have to mount our churches on lazy susans. The sun rises in the EAST only for a short time each year. It varies all the way from pretty extreme northeast to pretty extreme southeast.

If that bunch of crazies (oops, judge not! that bunch of perhaps overly-traditional spiritual people) over on Titusone:nine can make theological hay out of statements like, "This has made worship man-centered rather than God-focussed. Celebrating coram populo is hardly an act of worship at all, but is more like a cooking demonstration or a magic show," then I can make my own theological hay.

God's revelation in creation that the origin of the rising sun is not strictly "East," is ample argument that we should be no more hide-bound in our orientation during Eucharist.

Several of the readers over on Titusone:nine did actually have a valid argument -- that our focus should be on God. God is omnipresent. I think that knocks the dogma of rigidly facing east into a cocked hat.

How's that for sophistry?