Friday, March 19, 2010

About Percy

The New Parson's Handbook (aka 'Percy') is inspired by Percy Dearmer's The Parson's Handbook (1899).

This manual reflects the side of Catholic Anglicanism which investigated and retrieved older English traditions, rather than imitating 19th century Roman and continental practice as a basis for Catholic renewal in the Church of England. Only partially correctly, it has been viewed as a manifesto of the "Sarum", as opposed to Roman, form of Anglo-Catholicism.

The Parson's Handbook is still worth reading - sometimes dated in detail, it remains relevant in spirit.  It does not have all the detail of Fortescue's Ritual Notes, having deeper concerns than mere formality. It connects liturgy with values, including social justice - Dearmer is as critical of the unjust labour relations embedded in ugly Church furnishings as in their aesthetic failure.

More than a hundred years later, specifics have changed but Percy's passion remains relevant. Anglicanism has seen the Oxford Movement and the Liturgical Movement come, and in large part go, with mixed and incomplete results. Meanwhile the Church seems to face larger issues than liturgical nicety, and flails around seeking fresh (oops) solutions to its failures.

This site is not for reminiscences about apparelled amices or musings on the length or surplices, but an attempt to make connections between past and future, and between liturgy and life. I start with liturgy though - because one of the convictions informing the New Handbook is that liturgy has too often become a sort of neutral medium for communication of ideas, good and bad, where in fact it should be a source for the Church's mission.

Percy appears again here to encourage further and deeper thought about liturgy, with a Catholic flavour and historical interest but with generosity of spirit and concern for mission including justice. Frank opinions are offered in charity, with openness to learning and change. Those who are not against us are for us!

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