Thinking allowed

Introducing Thinking Liturgy

A dec­ade or so ago we began Think­ing Anglic­ans with the express inten­tion of proclaiming

a tol­er­ant, pro­gress­ive and com­pas­sion­ate Chris­ti­an spir­itu­al­ity, in which justice is cent­ral to the pro­clam­a­tion of the good news of the king­dom of God. Our spir­itu­al­ity must engage with the world, and be con­sist­ent with the sci­entif­ic and philo­soph­ic­al under­stand­ing on which our mod­ern world is based. It must address the changes which sci­ence and tech­no­logy have brought into our lives.

Impli­cit in that was a con­nec­tion between what we do in Church and what we do in the world. We seek to share our food with the hungry, we seek justice for the oppressed and the cap­tive, we seek a new start for all and recog­nize the wrongs that we and oth­ers have done to indi­vidu­als and groups, as well as to oth­er creatures and the phys­ic­al world. 

These things are intim­ately linked with what we do in Church. We gath­er around lectern and table to hear and receive the Word of God; we share for­give­ness and peace with our neigh­bours, and eat with them, recog­niz­ing the pres­ence of Christ as we do so. We are the body of Christ, not just in Church, but in the world. Our table fel­low­ship is not just a sym­bol­ic table fel­low­ship exist­ing only with­in the con­fines of the church build­ing; rather, all these things are one.

This close rela­tion­ship was redis­covered both by the Evan­gel­ic­al reviv­al and by the Oxford Move­ment. It was fun­da­ment­al to the rise of Chris­ti­an Social­ism and lay at the heart of the Par­ish Com­mu­nion movement.

And so in this new blog we shall look at the link and explore how our wor­ship can reflect the social justice that we have pro­claimed, and at the con­tinu­ing rel­ev­ance of this in the second dec­ade of the twenty-first cen­tury. The title ‘Think­ing Liturgy’ con­nects this blog to the par­ent ‘Think­ing Anglic­ans’ and also indic­ates the inten­tion to think about liturgy and pro­mote liturgy that is thought­ful. We shall cov­er a range of litur­gic­al top­ics and news, and try not to be con­fined to any par­tic­u­lar theo­lo­gic­al or doc­trin­al stance or ‘church­man­ship’, though our focus will be largely Anglic­an and Eng­lish. We shall con­sider too how our wor­ship, our liturgy, impacts on our mis­sion. We intend to pro­mote and share good litur­gic­al prac­tice, among both laity and clergy, and we shall explore litur­gic­al pres­id­ency. We may provide sample mater­i­al, and news of syn­od­ic­al author­iz­a­tion and com­mend­a­tion. We intend to review books and also ser­vices and build­ings, and we will cov­er related blogs and oth­er mater­i­al on the inter­net. We expect to have a num­ber of guest con­trib­ut­ors and we wel­come spir­ited litur­gic­al discussion.


  • James says:

    There was a very pos­it­ive review in yes­ter­day’s Church Times of a new book on litur­gic­al pres­id­ency. Table Man­ners (SCM) is, so far as I can tell, the first book to openly chal­lenge the C of E’s dis­astrously lais­sez-fair policy towards litur­gic­al form­a­tion (aided and abet­ted by the growth in non-res­id­en­tial train­ing). It is a response to a ques­tion posed by Row­an WIl­li­ams ‘Is there a litur­gic­al crisis in the C of E?’ and the author insists that the poor qual­ity of wor­ship in the major­ity of our par­ish churches is a ser­i­ous under­min­ing of mis­sion. Your excel­lent new blog should cer­tainly have a review of this book.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    Thank you Simon. This looks both inter­est­ing and useful. 

  • Thanks. James: we have a num­ber of books to review, and some of the reviews are writ­ten and queued up for pub­lic­a­tion. A copy of Simon Reyn­old­s’s _Table Manners_ is with the reviewer.

  • Susannah Clark says:

    I very much wel­come this new initiative.

    How we frame our acknow­ledg­ment and wor­ship and com­ing to God (and to each oth­er) in Church must surely impact on how we seek justice, love and mercy when we go out from Church to con­tin­ue that liturgy in daily pray­er, ser­vice and our relationships.

  • Dennis says:

    Look­ing for­ward to fol­low­ing this. Best wishes on the start of a very good project.

  • Alan says:

    I would chal­lenge James’ com­ment that ‘the C of E’s dis­astrously lais­sez-fair policy towards litur­gic­al form­a­tion’ is ‘aided and abet­ted by the growth in non-res­id­en­tial train­ing’ since on the course on which I was trained (admit­tedly more that 20 years ago) litur­gic­al form­a­tion was key, ongo­ing, and emphas­ized not dimin­ished by the range of church­man­ship of the stu­dents, from con­ser­vat­ive evan­gel­ic­al to incense-swinging Anglo-Catholics.

    Rather, I sug­gest, mod­ern liturgy suf­fers because of our mod­ern, 20-second sound­bite, sol­ipsist, instant­an­eous, fren­et­ic cul­ture where silence and still­ness are not val­ued and are,indeed, seen as inimical.

  • Thank you for this Simon, it is a much needed addi­tion to the dis­cus­sions, there being few of us litur­gists out there and few ways to get togeth­er .…so this will be great 🙂

  • Labarum says:

    This new for­um has poten­tial, though it shares a very great weak­ness with “Think­ing Anglic­ans”: only a select few may open a thread.

    Would not a vBul­let­in type for­um not be bet­ter for both, even if com­ments are mod­er­ated before being shown to the world?

  • Had not real­ise that people cou;ld not open threads only a select few…how does one gain the dizzy heights of being able to open a thread?

  • Meg says:

    This is a splen­did devel­op­ment. Really pleased. I will be fol­low­ing this.

  • evensongjunkie says:

    Well, looks inter­est­ing to see what will be up on this two cents (or two pence) worth..I wish we could get bey­ond mod­ern liturgy=necessary for peace and justice issues dogma that is affect­ing the Epis­copal Church USA. Some of us love our Cover­dale psal­ter AND are fight­ing for a bet­ter and fairer world..

  • Susan Cooper says:

    This sounds the cor­rect for­um for rais­ing my con­cerns about the inter­ces­sions in the Com­mon Wor­ship: Times and Sea­sons Good Fri­day Liturgy. How do I set about it?

  • Paul Andrews says:

    Very pleased to see this Simon – there is a dis­tinct dearth of fora for litur­gic­al dis­cus­sion and this is an encour­aging development

  • Pluralist says:

    I wish it the best. I am myself inter­ested in this sub­ject and although, of course, here it is Anglic­an, you might occa­sion­ally learn a bit as to how, in a lib­er­al denom­in­a­tion, ie the Unit­ari­ans, form­al liturgy has col­lapsed. The last main litur­gic­al book with wide­spread fre­quent use into the 1950s and 1960s was the 1932 Orders of Wor­ship. Everything else since has been frag­ment­ary and bey­ond agree­ment, whilst the com­mon mater­i­al used has been broad, DIY, them­at­ic, inclus­ive and socially pro­gress­ive. Orders of Wor­ship is now impossible to use, but I’ve had a go at try­ing form­al litur­gies from vari­ous standpoints.

  • JCF says:

    You had me at “in this new blog”! 🙂

  • Keith Kimber says:

    In wel­com­ing this most appro­pri­ate ini­ti­at­ive for our times, I hope that it’ll provide oppor­tun­ity to reflect on the rela­tion­ship between litur­gic­al prax­is and the range of spir­itu­al­it­ies evid­ent in the con­tem­por­ary Anglic­an world.
    There’s need for crit­ic­al debate about what truly nur­tures and inspires Anglic­an iden­tity and mis­sion from the inner world as well as the outer.

  • Susan: I will cre­ate a post on which people can hang gen­er­al Q&A top­ics. Hang on for a short while until the blog is prop­erly under way.

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