A Mishmash of Liturgies

I do three prayers a day normally: morning, evening and compline. Over time I have developed distinct and contradictory preferences in my solitary worship. I presume they don’t make any sense to anyone other than me and God, and the only reason I count God is that She is all-knowing.  That’s one of my preferences, if you hadn’t guessed. I try to refer to God as neutral or female. At times I would wonder if I was being blasphemous, but then I read about a Saint (exactly which one I can’t remember) that was noted for always referring to God in the feminine.  If you can achieve Sainthood and maintain that behavior, I’m not going to worry about my little transgression.

In my humble opinion, God is really without gender, but has been referred to in the masculine by countless millions (billions?) for so long that I believe if I use the neutral it will not balance the majority references, so I feel better using the female gender whenever possible.

Other habits include referring to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost.  It’s my understanding that until recently Ghost was preferred to Spirit, but somewhere along the line Ghost got associated with spooks and goblins, and the Spirit was considered  less likely to be associated with Halloween.  Still I see Ghost used in my Rite 1 section of the Book of Common Prayer, so to be contentious perhaps, I like using Ghost.

I used to have the Order of St. Helena’s Psalm Book, and they try to use neutral language at all times.  Instead of:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

They write and say:

Glory to God, Source of all Being, Incarnate Word and Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

I say the same, except I say Holy Ghost.  I like the rhythm of it better than the more traditional wording, and of course it’s gender neutral. Another thing I enjoy doing is using different translations of the Bible for the readings. I grew up on the King James Version, which I believe has some of the most beautiful language of any Bible in English, but sometimes it is a bit difficult to understand.  I used Eugene Peterson’s The Message for awhile.  It has understandable language, and it can be quite surprising and dynamic.  But I like to mix things up a bit (obviously), so have started using the different versions authorized by the Episcopal Church.  One of my latest favorites is the Good News Version, and I even ordered a copy of it, so I can refer to it when I don’t have access to the internet.  I love it; it reminds me of the Bibles I knew in my childhood with all the illustrations.  Some are in color and “starving artists sale” style, and most are just sketches within the text.

Finally, I prefer the modern version of the “Our Father [Mother]” to the traditional.  My experience in worship settings seems to indicate that I am almost alone in this.  I have read a number of articles, however, on how the modern “Save us from the time of trial” is closer to the original text than the traditional “and lead us not into temptation.”  Recently I remembered that I must have grown up with the modern text because I remember being puzzled by “transgressions” as opposed to “sins,” when I started going to Episcopal church services about 25 years ago. So I feel even more comfortable using the modern version since that realization.  In fact I find myself saying “Save us from the time of trial” at this point even when saying the traditional “Our Father” in church.

So what’s the point of this particular blog? I guess that when we worship in isolation, we find ourselves doing all sorts of things that we wouldn’t do within the walls of a church.  It makes me realize how people who are “spiritual, not religious” can end up astray and self-centered, when I think God calls us to be outward-focused. I won’t begrudge myself my idiosyncrasies, but I will maintain my weekly church attendance: Both to be among others and also to keep me grounded in the Episcopal liturgy, not my cockeyed version of it.


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