Sunday, July 08, 2018

The New Book of Common Prayer

The 1928 BCP is still sold on Amazon
We're going to have a new Book of Common Prayer in twelve years; trials on a draft version will begin in six.

The General Convention, the chief governing body of the Episcopal Church, met in Austin last week and passed Resolution A068. A summary from Episcopal News:
The resolution directs that any future revision will “utilize inclusive and expansive language and imagery for humanity and divinity” and will “incorporate and express understanding, appreciation, and care of God’s creation."
I have attended Anglican services in many parts of the U.S. and the world, and I have never seen anyone turned away; apparently, however, the sexist language of the 1979 BCP makes people feel unwelcome. Well, let's fix some of that language at the margin (probably at the cost of excising more of the beautiful phrases that have comforted both men and women for decades, if not centuries). We will alienate more old people, but to be honest, they're not the future of the Church.

But gender-neutral references to the faithful are not the major change. Did you notice the "expansive language [for] divinity"?

I have attended a few services where a lady minister would reference "God the Mother" and use the pronoun "She". In another vein, especially when the topic was the environment ("care of God's creation"), priests have called upon Gaia, who is the Greek goddess commonly knows as Mother Earth. In this way they could strike a blow against both patriarchy and monotheism in one fell swoop.

Part of me wants to encourage this project because it's time the Church resolves whether "God the Mother" is consistent with its theology. However, we know the result before it's even started; the cultural Marxists in charge of my church know that changing the language is a prerequisite to changing thoughts.

Note: one source of amusement is the translation of gender-neutral English into Romance languages, where gender is all-pervasive. Here's a Quora thread where Spanish-speaking natives weigh in. Excerpts from different contributors:
this issue is an excellent example of how English speakers love to impose their world view/cultural grid on other cultures. With regards to Spanish, the battle for gender inclusivity is very real in places like Mexico and Spain, both countries in which I lived for a number of years. In Mexico for example, official government publications must refer to “los mexicanos y las mexicanas.” Many ordinary Mexicans, however, feel this is a pointless (and perhaps American-influenced) distraction from real issues that affect the lives of millions of women, such as domestic violence and female indigenous disempowerment.

To truly respect the cultures associated with Spanish and French would be to learn the languages the way they are spoken, written, and taught today and then to engage respectfully in an ongoing dialogue with native Spanish and French speakers and teachers about how to reconcile your Anglo-Saxon political convictions and worldview with the languages that are being shared with you.

nobody who speaks Spanish as a native would care. It's you trying to impose your values in other people. Hundreds of millions of people are not going to change the way they talk just to accommodate you.

It'd be like a native Spanish speakers expecting English native speakers to use three different forms of you: an informal one for singular, a formal one for singular, and a form for plural. Why? Because that's how it works in Spanish, so you and every person that speaks English should change.

"the overwhelmingly gendered nature" of the Spanish language refers to grammatical gender, so if you have any troubles with that, you could think about it as a silly bourgeois convention unrelated to what your mind actually believes of a person's gender or lack thereof.

PS: your teacher is probably trying to teach you Spanish, not impose any kind of socially normative prejudices, so please let him/her/sher/zer/them/whatever do the work. Thank you.

This is a terrible non-issue you are making out of your stubbornness to impose your north american-centric view of culture and the world on peoples who don’t really care. These are things that really don’t make us latin americans at all concerned. Spanish speakers don’t lose sleep over the existence of “gender neutral nouns”. WE DON’T HAVE THAT CULTURE. WE DON’T CARE, AND WE DON’T MIND. WE USE LANGUAGE AS IT IS.
Resolution A068 mandates that "all materials be translated into English, Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole, following the method commonly called dynamic equivalency". I doubt that any objections by non-U.S. Episcopalians will slow the process down anyway, because it's impossible for the Church, which inveighs against colonialism incessantly, to engage in cultural imperialism.

No comments: