It is worrisome that despite the soaring temperatures of Austin, the current Prayer Book conversations take place in an ecumenical winter. There are numerous important reasons why things have changed in our dialogues with other groups since the 1960s and ’70s, but a profound question remains largely untouched in this debate: How will our liturgy reveal and help create the unity of the Body of Christ, whose relationship with the Episcopal Church is, well, inexact and incomplete?
This shouldn’t mean we just borrow the insights of other traditions as ritual toys. One of the faintly tragic elements on display in the 1979 Prayer Book are the numerous borrowings from Orthodox liturgy, which reflect not just scholarly knowledge, but prayerful conversations with Russian and Greek scholars of the mid-20th century who were then genuine dialogue partners. It is hard to find such engagement with eastern Christianity in the Episcopal Church now, beyond the somewhat hollow testimony of facsimile icons in Church bookstores.
McGowan here identifies what I think is most worrisome about the current push for revision of the BCP: it is radically exclusionist. The Orthodox don’t matter, Catholics don’t matter, Anglicans outside of the U.S. don’t matter, non-revisionist Episcopalians don’t matter. Literally no one in the world matters except the revisionists themselves.