I’d like to point you to a blog entry I wrote for Earlham School of Religion concerning a recent trip to Mexico City.
Following the recent announcement of changes to the Zodiac calendar, a denominational watchdog organization, Denomawatch, made a surprising announcement of its own today.
“We have long suspected that there was a misalignment of denominational identities, but weren’t certain until earlier this week,” said Dr. Cambio, Associate Director of Denomawatch.
The confusion is due to a miscalculation of Luther’s posting of the 95 thesis at Wittenburg in 1517.
“Everything was completely then misassigned in the sixteenth century and, consequently, into the English Reformation and beyond. We are only now beginning to see the first effects of this problem,” Cambio remarked. “It will likely be years before the full impact of this travesty will be known.”
The entire constellation of Protestant identity has been affected by this miscalculation, experts at Denomawatch reported.
“Mormons, for instance, are actually Assemblies of God, while Unitarians have been Southern Baptists all along.”
A number of religious leaders have reacted strongly to this week’s announcement. Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, when asked whether the worldwide Anglican Communion would surrender its property to the United Methodists who are now, according to new calculations, the rightful Anglicans.
“No. Definitely not,” he replied. “Those bastards left us a long time ago.”
Pope Benedict XVI would not comment directly on the matter citing that this was a “Protestant issue.” An official statement assured that, “His Holiness is aware of the recent developments concerning denominational reassignment and will hold a special mass later this week.”
Scholars are investigating the roots of the miscalculation.
According to Marcia Rivera, Professor of Reformation Studies at the University of Chicago, it is unclear whether the error was due initially to human error or to a deliberate sabotage.
“There is some evidence that an early chase (the forms in which block print were placed on early printing presses) was simply scrambled,” Rivera stated. “It could have been as innocent as someone stumbling with the chase on the way to the press.”
But at least one other historian suspects the error was deliberate.
“I believe the handwritten document used to set the type was incorrect,” said Dr. Hugh Zimmerman, Associate Curator of Special Collections at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.
The document can be traced to a small monastery north of Wittenburg which was extremely hostile to the new reforms that swept through the area following Luther’s bold move.
It will take some time for the details to be clarified. In the meantime, Dr. Cambio advises, “We had better all get used to singing someone else’s hymns from now on.”
[There has been a lot of talk this week about the coarseness of public conversation. Here is a selection from my book in progress (*Quakering Theology*) about the importance of learning the language of blessing to counter the language of curse.]
The language we use in our conversation concerning peace and social justice (tone and intention) may be as critical as the actual content of our conversation. Combative, vitriolic language characterizes the left as well as the right. Public conversation is becoming more coarse, increasingly aggressive, even violent. If language is viewed primarily as a vehicle whereby experience is articulated in a descriptive fashion, then the language used to speak of our world, ourselves, will be violent. In fact, we could conclude that our speech must be aggressive in order to “speak truthfully” with integrity.
[However] … language does not simply describe reality, it evokes reality. Our speech may actually create new and inhabitable worlds, not simply describe presently existing ones.
Rooted as Friends are in the narrative of Christianity, the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus—our discourse ought to be the language of and practice of blessing. The aggressiveness of societal discourse speaks a curse—so much easier to utter in many ways; one that condemns, that dismisses, that diminishes, that sends away. “Send the children away, the Lord is tired.” How ought Friends to respond to groups whose demeanor is aggressive, belligerent, bellicose, dismissive, or even violent (even when—especially when—those groups are activists whose social agenda many Friends share)? Shaped by this narrative and inspired by language birthed from the experience of a violent world, we may well follow suit.
In blessing the children Jesus speaks a language of a “less traveled vocabulary.” Perhaps the language of evocative, world-creating vision is more properly the language of poets and artists, musicians and lovers. If so, Friends may have some difficulty entering such a practice, schooled as we have been by the sentiment of William Penn, for example, who dismissed the arts as distractions from the pursuit of things spiritual: “These were never invented, but by that mind which had first lost the joy and ravishing delights of God’s holy presence.” A distressing lack of imaginative incarnational vision.
We may enter with wobbly knees, hobbling on crutches, but it is into this place we should enter. Speaking blessing rather than curses, the blessings of a new covenant, the blessing of a vision of a new heavens and a new earth. In so speaking, we may even give birth to a new world.
Penn, No Cross No Crown, 236-237 (XV.7).