Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lost in Translation: Churchy Church Language

So everyone who reads my stuff knows I work ecumenically, right?

Yes, I spend lots of real & cyber-time hanging out with clergy and lay leadership from lots of church denominations, mainly (or is that mainline) these: ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), Episcopal Church, USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), and United Methodist Church.

This also means I spend some percentage of time engaged in simultaneous translation because, gee, let's not all use the same terms for everything. One Body? Hell no! Not even one brain. Certainly not one voice with a language system to go with it.

For example, I recently learned that instead of using the term "Eucharistic Adoration" like Roman Catholics, Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians use the term "Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament."  I don't know why and, quite frankly at this point, I don't want to know why. I've developed zero tolerance for churchy church language that reifies divisions among Christians.

Yesterday I went on Twitter to ask if there was any agreement about using the term "Altar Guild" for the committee that fusses with flowers, altar linens, candles, menorot, pew kneelers, and all that.

Lo and behold, remarkable unanimity among "high church" Protestants: Altar Guild!

Catholics call it the Altar Society.

More clear? No, just different.

For the sake of Christian unity, I say we simply agree to call it the Prom Committee.