Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Food for thought?

"One reason why we Christians argue so much about which hymn to sing, which liturgy to follow, which way to worship is that the commandments teach us to believe that bad liturgy eventually leads to bad ethics. You begin by singing some sappy, sentimental hymn, then you pray some pointless prayer, and the next thing you know you have murdered your best friend."
- Stanley Hauerwas

12 comments:

J. R. Miller said...

I think that is how Ted Bundy got his start.

Greg Cox said...

Had he said that in a lecture and not in a book, he would have dropped the F Bomb.

Brett Probert said...

Interesting. I'll bet the reason why I'm pricing a new .45 magnum is because I am so influenced by the Protestant National Praise Anthem: Lord I Lift Your Name on High.

Jeff Kahl said...

Really makes you think twice before singing "I'm In The Lord's Army" or "Onward Christian Soldiers," doesn't it?

Jeff Vanderhoff said...

Keith, you looked ready to murder someone after our opening worship at Harbison Chapel back when we were commissioned! I think it was the chorus of na na na's that sent you over the edge. Thank God for a 3 day waiting period to purchase handguns!

Eric Park said...

I once open-hand slapped a worshiper for shouting "HEY WORLD" during the third verse of "Pass It On."

But, I'm much better now. And I intend to comply fully with the requirements of the restraining order.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Keith:

Stanley forgot to add that after you murder your best friend, you remind yourself that it is OK because you are saved by grace.

Jeff Vanderhoff said...

Keith, I'm curious what your take is on this statement by Hauerwas? And, how does it relate with what you posted on Eric's blog about we as leaders helping to heal divisions among denominations? Your thoughts (Unlike Brett, I DO want your thoughts!) -Jeff

Keith McIlwain said...

Well, as with a lot of Hauerwas, it's a bit extreme. But, the point is well-taken. There's a REASON historic liturgy is crafted as it is and why it has stood the tests of time when other liturgical movements have come and gone. Our faith and theology is encapsulated in our liturgies and in the hymns we sing. That's one reason I have a problem with a lot (not all) of the contemporary stuff, which I find to be so poorly written...musically, lyrically, and theologically.

So, does "bad liturgy eventually leads to bad ethics"? Often, yes. Always? Probably not.

That said, solid liturgy and hymnody hasn't exactly saved us from heresy and bad ethics, so it can't be ALL of the answer.

Keith McIlwain said...

In terms of healing denominational rifts, I think we just have to accept the liturgies of our sister denominations as gifts to the Church. From my vantage point, there's a certain richness and depth in Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox liturgy that's lacking in, say, the independent contemporary congregational liturgy, but I ought to accept all of it. Hopefully, as we cooperate more, we'll see the value in other traditions. Is that fair?

Jeff Vanderhoff said...

It's fair - but I think Hauerwas' comment is more than a bit extreme, and would be interested to hear of a specific example of how he's making such a jump, and where the commandments teach such a thing.

Keith McIlwain said...

I think he wrote a book about the commandments; you might start there.