22 January 2012

The entire lectionary debate

Or discussion or whatever you want to call it, comes down to whether you value diachronic unity above synchronic unity. While I have to disagree with those who discount the value of either, I confess my heart is aligned with diachronic, yet I sympathize deeply with the tug toward synchronic.

24 comments:

Paul McCain said...

Translation please?

Terry Maher said...

what the hell is that?

Both lectionaries in current LCMS use are diachronic. The historic lectionary is not an unchanging thing; the novus ordo has had Roman revision as well as revision as the RCL and further revisions for denominational use.

And, both are synchronic: the one-year is not the historic lectionary and the three-year is not the novus ordo, but both come from specific points in time when adaptations of both were formed and approved for use.

William Weedon said...

I mean that the historic lectionary connects you with the previous generations of Western Christians (generally) who have been nurtured in that way; the three year connects you with the billions of Christians alive today who are hearing and pondering those texts with you on that day (generally). I see huge value in each - my heart, though, belongs with the unity through time rather than at the same time. Of course, Terry's right that neither is exactly either, but the historic is generally in tune with previous use across centuries and the three year in general use with current practice for the overwhelming majority of Christians today.

Terry Maher said...

Well, that makes it clear.

Given that the overwhelming majority of Christians to-day exist in denominations that are heterodox and in most cases apostate from even their own heterodox confessions, being in tune with that would not be a good witness.

Rev. Allen Yount said...

So we should avoid the reading of particular portions of Holy Scripture during the Divine Service because heterodox bodies are reading them in their worship? What then do we do with the readings found in *both* the Historic and the 3 year lectionary? Avoid them also?

William Weedon said...

LOL! That WOULD seem to be the conclusion of Terry's words, but I'm sure he doesn't hold that conclusion. The problem is finding anything good to say about Vatican II and its results... But certainly we as Lutherans know that the Church has the freedom to arrange her calendar and her lectionary as best fits the needs of the times. Historically, we basically kept the Sunday lectionary completely intact. We did add to it and alter things here and there over the years, as the Church has ever done. The big change with the three year was prompted by a hunger for more of the Word of God in the Church's life and with attention to each Evangelist's telling of the good news, and again, it followed at numerous points some ancient patterns. Acts in Eastertide for example - see St. Augustine!

Chris said...

The three year lectionary is ridiculous. 50+ years ago after its adoption by the RC and the Lutherans, who for whatever strange reason always seem to follow Rome with her changes, and Christians are still biblically illiterate! Whoever thought that this was a good idea couldn't have been more wrong. Also, the more and more you divorce yourselves from the traditional lectionary, the more and more you divorce yourselves from the church in the time of Luther, Chemnitz, Melanchthon. It makes no sense. Plus, liturgically, the antiphons, graduals, tracts, alleluias all go with the one year lectionary. When you adopt the 3 year lectionary, you have to make up new ones which are sometimes horribly crafted. One year all the way.

William Weedon said...

Chris,

If I could put it so, the three-year actually works brilliantly...IF THE FAITHFUL GET THEIR BUTTS IN THE PEWS EACH SUNDAY AND LISTEN REVERENTLY. But that's not the world we live in, and it is one major reason I favor the older approach. It takes a far smaller selection of Scripture but it fastens it down into the heads and hearts of pastor and people by YEARLY repetition. If in a five year period a layperson misses, say, twice on the same Sunday, that still leaves three Sundays that that exact Scripture passage is being nailed to their heart.

Phil said...

Where did the three-year lectionary actually come from?

Who were the men who came up with it?

What did they think about things?

I'm personally in favor of the one-year lectionary, and I've heard lots of arguments both ways, but I'd be very interested to hear the story of how the three-year lectionary was invented, er, developed ;)

William Weedon said...

Phil,

This gives an overview: http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=448

Phil said...

Right. Well, I know that there were a series of revisions, and I suspect that at least in the LCMS those revisions improved the three-year lectionary, but I'd be more interested to know who was working on the lectionary at Vatican II and what their theological agendas were.

Larry Luder said...

Rev Weedon,

This is a good example of why I like visiting this site. Nice discussion and I continue to learn new things. I like the 3 year lectionary and think Rome done us a great service. Not only are we united in pondering over the same text, I’m betting we are most likely praying the same ancient collect. Miss Sunday Mass? Not listen reverently? Surly you jest about the faithful. The faithful are just that, faithful and hungry for the Word. So, you may be confusing the faithful with parishioner less than faithful. Our parish also posts the sermons on-line, sweet. Although, the adult bible study isn’t 100% on Sunday, over 200 each Sunday between the two services isn’t shabby, and that isn’t counting the 5 weekday opportunities. So I’m thinking our parish may not the norm or not enough credit is given parishioners. As to which lectionary, orderly worship (1 Corinthians 14), I think it best that each parish needs to decide for themselves which lectionary best meet the need of their own community evermore guiding their journey back to Eden.

Terry Maher said...

No that is not my "conclusion", nor are my "words" from which it is supposedly drawn say anything of the sort.

Re the novus ordo derived lectionaries, it was not "the church" which re-arranged its calendar and lectionary, it was the Roman Catholic Church, which despite its absurd claims, is neither "the church" nor that in which its fulness subsists.

It was re-arranged to fit a specific RC agenda, and the lined article provides no information on this whatever to answer Phil's question.

Who were the men who came up with it? Every major figure in that movement either visited, spoke, and/or were studied where I went to university. I knew some of them personally.

What did they think about things? The agenda was quite clear. I saw, read, and heard it over and over. The church -- read, RCC -- had become mired in Western mediaevalism, which expressed itself in rite, calendar, lectionary, and associated preaching traditions; a full break was needed with that, so that new rites, calendar and lectionary would recover its Greek roots and lose the parochial Catholic/Protestant Western quarrels, then free of shell in which we have placed ourselves, we journey toward the oneness Christ wants of us.

"Hunger for more of God's Word" -- bullroar. The thinking was, the existing Western lectionary in its various versions was entirely too dependent on miracle stories, which we know from historical criticism are specious anyway, and Matthew, so, by including more of the moral teaching passages from across the Gospels the centuries old limitations would be broken and the agenda above would be served.

This, nothing more, less, or else, and certainly not a groaning from the pews of "OMG do we have to hear this every damn year, could we puhleeze have more Scripture" was the agenda and driving force. Exactly as Chris says.

Not to mention that the readings in the liturgy, church or synagogue before it, are not a curriculum or a Bible class. Exposure to Scripture per se is not the goal; Scripture is chosen to expose us to the annual, not triennial, events it celebrates.

Original Evangelical said...

Good grief! Whoever "Terry" is, the vociferousness and language of his objections kinda freaks me out and makes me want to look more kindly upon the 3-year approach. Mostly because he seems to be fighting so strenuously against something that appears rather straw-man'ish.

I think Pastor Weedon presents a pretty balanced view, IMHO.

Terry Maher said...

Straw man? Sorry, but such was the agenda of the real men with whom the three-year originated. And that's what "kinda freaks me out".

Phil said...

Terry, those are interesting statements. Who were the men, and were their views documented anywhere? Hearsay is one thing--being able to read books or academic papers is another.

Terry Maher said...

Phil -- I wish I could answer your question in the way you wish. Unfortunately, it does not follow the pattern of academia, where one can identify primary sources and there is are secondary sources identifying who got what from who.

It was a movement over several decades, which saw its fruition in the promulgation of the novus ordo, which did not happen at Vatican II but shortly after it.

And that alone is a point of controversy -- whether Vatican II itself sanctions the novus ordo (here meaning the whole thing, rite, calendar, lectionary and all) or whether the scrapping of the old ordo and construction of a new goes beyond what was called for by the Council itself.

Hearsay? -- well yes, in that I am saying what I heard, uniformly, across the movement itself. What I wrote was a summary statement of that, not drawn from this or that source or sources.

Nonetheless, to pursue the matter, though in a fashion not consistent with its genesis, and is rather like trying to grasp a final cause from an efficient cause, one might start with a single word -- Bugnini.

Ironically, both the Extraodinary AND the Ordinary Form (the novus ordo and the 1962 version of the so-called Tridentine Rite) have this man as efficient cause.

Is he the bad guy who messed everything up? Hardly, any more than an efficient cause is a material, formal or final cause.

Terry Maher said...

Chris -- is this the first time we have agreed on something 100%? Well I'll be double dag dog dipped!

Pastor Peters said...

I am torn. A part of me sees wisdom in the one year lectionary -- especially since the mobility of my folk means that they may not be here or there long enough to become connected to the 3 year series -- but the other part of me is fully rooted in the three year series and it has become too familiar to me to drop without heart ache. Plus there are hymns that just do not relate well to the texts chosen for the one year series -- hymns that I do not want to let go. So, risking the wrath of Terry, I figure I will stick with the three year. It has been my home since 1982 (with slight variation due to LW which I introduced that year) and I am getting to darn old to change...

Terry Maher said...

The wrath of Terry?? Great Judas at the Holy Office (not the one you pray, either directly or in idiosyncratic variations like TDP, but the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, later renamed the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, and now since Vatican II curial congregations ain't sacred no more, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) I ain't got no wrath!

Take it up with the AC, which says we keep the public ceremonies, for the most part similar to those previously in use (XXIV), not come up with new ones or new pastiches from old ones, and we keep the order of Scripture lessons in the Mass and the chief holy days (XXVI), not come up with "new and improved" ones.

Rev. Allen Yount said...

Terry, you do realize that I was playing with you, right? :)

Let me also state for the record that I have greater appreciation for the Historic lectionary. I wanted to re-introduce it in my former congregation, but I ended up having to go on temporary medical disability leave and resign my call before I had any opportunity to do so.

Terry Maher said...

Oh hell yes! Actually, it was after a comment of yours following a comment of mine months ago here that I coined the term Yount Alert to signal a rip snortin rant about to emerge!

I've missed hearing from you in these comboxes, and I am sorry to hear about the disability and resignation, which explains though why I haven't seen you much.

I hope the situation has improved and you;ll be around more!

Rev. Allen Yount said...

Thank you, Terry. That's very kind of you to say. It's been a rough couple of years, but God has been with me through it all. I now have an exciting opportunity that opened up for me. I'm going to be serving as a volunteer chaplain at Northern Colorado Medical Center here in Greeley. It's only going to be a few hours a week, but I have a feeling this is going to lead to something else.

I do remember the "Pastor Yount alert, by the way. :)

Matt said...

I love these conversations! Pr. Weedon has an exceptionally gentle and irenic way of making his point, Mr. Maher less so, but his humor and erudition more than compensate for his bluntness.

This discussion increases my preference for the historic one-year lectionary, though I'm not about to condemn those who use the three-year. In our current environment, any church that disciplines itself to follow either lectionary is to be commended.

And thanks, Fr. Weedon, for again expanding my vocabulary! One more point in favor of the unity through time: Our church has many, many liturgical treasures that are linked to the one-year lectionary, Cantatas being perhaps the most prominent example. The historic lectionary is a way of organizing this wealth of content that makes it easier to use in the life of the contemporary church. And not just music; the sermons of Luther and others are indexed by the Sunday of the Church year so it makes it easier for a pastor writing a sermon to research what the Fathers preached about the same text.