So, You Won’t Believe What I Found

The Return of the Internet to my humble abode has been quite appropriately marked by two perplexing discoveries of the kind only made online:

1) There actually exists something called Byzantine Rite Lutheranism, which designation is used to describe the liturgy of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Dwelling on the thought a little, it makes sense that such a thing should exist. As anyone acquainted with the 1523 Latin Mass and the 1526 German Mass knows, Dr Luther’s Order of Divine Service was not an invention, but was rather a carefully modified version of the Roman Mass. Of course, he was able to perform his radical liturgical surgery largely unseen, given that most (but by no means all) of his excisions and modifications were made in the inaudible prayers and other secretae of the Mass. Because of this, the “German Mass” remained outwardly very similar to the “Popish Divine Services.” Now, given that the common liturgical idiom in Ukraine (for both Orthodox and Greek-Catholics) is the Byzantine rite, it stands to reason that a native Lutheran church there would undertake the same kind of revision of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy that Luther undertook of the Roman Mass. (Please note that I neither endorse nor approve of any such undertaking; I’m merely pointing out that this makes sense given the liturgical praxis modeled by Dr Luther.) The fact that I can understand how “Ukrainian Byzantine Rite Lutheranism” exists, however, does not prevent my head from spinning at the mere thought of it.

2) I’ve come across what must be the single most absurdly Po/Mo theological school in the world: Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle, WA [EDIT: Since 2011, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology]. Now, I don’t doubt that this soon-to-be-accredited institution has many merits, but consider some of the names attached to required MDiv courses:

  • Textual Synthesis
  • Integrative Project: Naming the Future
  • Constructing the Theological Mosaic I & II

Were I enrolled in such an institution, it is very likely that I would end up running around campus all day and night, class program in hand, while screaming: “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!” But that would be my phallogocentric, binary thinking at work, I guess.

Also, I note with a healthy dose of skeptical contempt that instruction in Hebrew and Greek is reduced to two courses entitled “Introduction to the Biblical Languages” and “Opening the Text: Exercises in Biblical Languages” (names which, frankly, are rather pedestrian by the high Po/Mo standard set by the rest of the curricular offer). In these courses, students “are exposed to important features of Hebrew and Greek” (like both consonants and nouns, perhaps!) and “gain experience with” (and eventually “mastery in”) “a leading Bible-research software program.” At times like this, I am reminded of the words of the infallible Moisés Silva: “Thanks to Bible software, more Bible students can commit more exegetical fallacies in less time than ever before.”

And speaking of exegesis, the MDiv exegetical course requirements (or, say, pre/post (meta)textual engagement opportunities) are labeled as “examinations” of the books of Ruth and Romans, which seems a little random. Heaven forgive me, but I’m not altogether certain that these books weren’t chosen only because their names both start with “r.”

Now, I’m still not over the shock; but the more I think about it, the more I feel like I should pack all my belongings, move to Seattle, and enroll at MHGS.

Ah, internet! I’m so very glad you’re back.

5 responses to “So, You Won’t Believe What I Found

  1. I’m glad it’s back too!

    Very interesting, about the Byzantine Rite Lutherans. I agree, it makes sense but I’ve never heard of such an animal.

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  2. I don’t understand why you don’t just enroll in the MHGS immediately. At such a pomo-enlightened place, surely such factors as your actual physical presence or the timing of registration would not be limiting.

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  3. Mimi> I had never heard of such an animal before, either, but since I did, I haven’t been able to sleep very well at night. ;-)

    Stacey> I agree with you, but so far my existential attempts at registration have met with failure. I’m afraid I might not be sufficiently free from, like, metanarratives and such.

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  4. The question is, are the Byzantine Rite Luterans following the Julian, modified Gregorian, or Gregorian calendar? I have recently become aware of the existence of Julian calendar Lutherans, but do not know any more than that they exist.

    You have to stay longer when you come out for the Serbian choir conference. I am beginning to meet some interesting Berkeley theological students and have a feeling you and they should talk.

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  5. Irene> Okay, you just BLEW my MIND! Old Calendar Lutherans?! I think I need therapy now. ;-)

    And we shall see what can be managed! I would love to meet your friends.

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