There's a famous Buddhist koan where a monk is tending the garden. He looks up to see his master standing looking at him. He goes back to work and a brick comes whistling right by his head. He looks up again and his master is standing with one foot in the air. "Master!" he said. "You almost hit me with that brick! You could have warned me!" His master replies, "But I stood with one foot in the air." And immediately the monk was enlightened.
Message: we must break ourselves of linear patterns of cause and effect if we are truly to understand the dharma of the Buddha.
Message: perhaps it's similar with the GOEs. In the church history question from earlier in the week, Crusty OId Dean wondered they didn't go whole hog with a "church" and "state" question, and, more specifically, why they chose the question of how the religious organizations dealt with slavery as opposed to, say, something like church-state separation and the impact of religious disestablishment and the Bill of Rights, or even our current context and debates over the role of religious organizations in society.
Luckily, Question 5 was the brick hurled at COD's head. COD is enlightened now: they had ANOTHER "church" and "state" question up their collective General Board of Examining Chaplains sleeves. COD is liberated from the linear causation of numbering questions 1 through 7. Here is Question 5:
Set 5: Contemporary Society
NO EXTERNAL RESOURCES
The role of Christianity in civil life and of religion in general, has undergone substantive changes through the centuries. For example, the Anglican Church was the official church in several American colonies prior to the Revolutionary War, only to see its status diminished shortly afterward. In our own age, as another example, the tax-exempt status of the real estate of religious institutions is being questioned by a more secular and pluralistic society. At the same time, some politicians are calling for a greater role for religion in society (sometimes for a greater specifically Christian role).
In such a context and as rector of a local parish, you have accepted an invitation to pray at the inauguration of the town’s mayor.
- In an essay of approximately 750 words, address the changing relationship that the church has with a society that questions the privileged place historically given to religious entities. How has this changing place of privilege both supported and hindered the church’s mission “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ”? (BCP, 855)
- Compose a prayer of approximately 75 words that you will use at the inauguration.
- In light of your analysis in Part 1, in an essay of 750 woreds explain:
- Why you accepted the invitation to pray at this civic event, and
- The reasons why you have composed this particular prayer in light of both the church’s mission and the currently perceived role of religion in civic life.