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What is it With These Anglicans, Anyway?

21 January 2010

It occurred to me that the gentle reader may not detect the winsome tone of the last paragraph below.  So in order to clarify that a bit without insulting the gentle reader’s intelligence, qb would like to give a bit of a hint.  Some years ago, my eldest sister gave my mom a birthday or Mothers’ Day gift, a framed piece of needlepiont artwork that said:  “[Mom’s name]:  A Woman, but an Intellectual.”  That just about captures the spirit of this post.


Back in the day, qb used to preach quite a bit, especially (alas) during the college years. I surely cannot claim to be a serious and formal student of rhetoric and homiletics, but both are subjects of great interest to me, both vocationally and otherwise. And of course, the recent and extended anguish over what has transpired at our former church home is intimately tied to the “performance” and integrity of the man in the pulpit, so my antennas have been tuned by the resulting cynicism to detect flabbiness, rhetorical manipulation, arrogance, and implicit intimidation that seem to pass by unremarked.

Moreover, my recent entry into seminary at ACU has exposed me to a great many rhetoricians from outside my rather narrow religious tradition, which is NOW broadly characterized by preachers who claim to see biblical literacy as essential but whose homiletical approach is defined more by cleverness, titular shock value, and three-piont rhetorical technique than the other “virtues.”

So I owe a great debt to my friend Ben, who is in the first place responsible for my entering ACU and all the serendipities that have ensued; but now in the second place for introducing me to the preaching of Dr. Samuel Wells, Dean of Chapel at Duke Divinity.

What a magnificent breath of bracingly fresh air. He is Anglican (high church), reads a script from the pulpit (humility), is British (dry, unforced wit), has a crackling baritone (easy to listen to), possesses a relaxed cadence (ditto), tends to topics of great depth and importance (gravitas), and exhibits a remarkable degree of prophetic courage. I commend his YouTube homilies to both of my readers, especially if you, like qb, are growing weary of the insipid, cloying gruel that passes for preaching in the era of the modern, evangelical, therapeutic megachurch.

Wells; Wright; Chris Webb of Renovare; and of course C. S. Lewis. Quite a pantheon. And all Anglican. I wonder if there is anything to that.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. 24 January 2010 9:49 pm


    Just finished reading Wright’s essay on Biblical worship. It would, if implemented in our spirits, bracingly transform what passes for worship in our contemporary efforts into authentic praise in the Spirit. Too bad the Anglicans themselves can’t collectively practice what their best minds preach.


  2. 25 January 2010 8:29 am

    I suppose that’s the curse on every tradition, not just the Anglicans’. qb

    P. S. Those interested in the essay to which Coop refers may wish to piont their browsers here.

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