Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It Begins: Question 1, Scripture: It's In the Way That You Use It

[Welcome, friends, at last to Crusty's Blogging of the GOEs.  Let me explain -- no, there is too much, let me sum up -- Crusty is now on the General Board of Examining Chaplains, and, unlike some people, is taking all necessary steps not only to avoid conflict of interest, but any perceived conflict of interest.  So I have recruited a substitute, the Dread Pirate Crusty, to offer some thoughts.  Crusty has not provided DPC with the questions, and has had no interactions with DPC other than posting comments here.  The delay in posting has been to make sure everyone has finished taking the examination, since an increasing number of people talk the GOE outside of the one-week window in early January. So:  ENJOY.]

Greetings, brave sailors on the high seas of knowledge!  Dread Pirate Crusty is excited to again be voyaging with you in these perilous times.  As stated earlier, these commentaries have been embargoed, with the aim of respecting those taking the test out of the usual 5 day sequence.  All commentary will be released at the same time for your binge-reading pleasure.  DPC is excited to embrace the Netflix model of blogging.

Onto Question 1!

Set 1: The Holy Scriptures
Open Resources

The Bible is a cornerstone of the Book of Common Prayer, grounding its theology and, in turn, The Episcopal Church's identity.In an essay of about 1,000 words use your knowledge of Holy Scriptures to discuss the role the Bible plays in Eucharistic Prayer B. Within your essay, identify at least five scriptural quotations or references in this Eucharistic Prayer. Include quotations or references from both the Old and New Testaments. Choose one of these references or quotations and provide an exegesis that discusses its theological, literary, and historical context.

Looky here, seminarians, it’s a slow pitch down the middle of the plate to start you off.

If the news that the Book of Common Prayer is grounded in Scripture is shocking to you as a test taker, then perhaps you have been asleep for lo, these two and a half years of seminary.  DPC  
There are also many fine old advances in caffeine.
encourages you to explore new advances in coffee.

The BCP is commonly referred to as the “readers digest version" of the Bible--an orgiastic amalgamation of biblical allusions and quotations.  You could, if you wanted, randomly stab your pen into Eucharistic Prayer B, then run a Google search on that sentence, and answer the question that way. 

That is how easy this question is.

Remarkably, that is also DPC’s problem with it. 

Not only is the Bible a cornerstone for Anglican clergy, but UNDERSTANDING the Bible is also a cornerstone.  (It’s the other cornerstone.  Because there are 4 cornerstones.  Think of it like a house or something.)

So it’s not enough to be able to pick out scriptural quotes in the BCP.  Anyone should be able to do.   As a priest, you should be able to also put those quotes in context, to unpack them and describe the stories they weave, and relate them to the struggles your people currently face.
I got ya four cornerstones right here, pal.

For example:  the sanctus, found in all eucharistic prayers, includes quotations from Isaiah 6 and Matthew 21.  It is fun to have that information at your fingertips.  You may feel important and smart.  Knowing that the Isaiah quote is also used during Orthodox and Conservative Jewish worship, and that it is customary to bow during this description of God’s holiness might even impact your own piety.  

But unless you can figure out how Isaiah’s insistence on God’s glory encompassing everything is related to Matthew’s heralding of the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, then your job is incomplete.  And THEN, you need to figure out what message the conflation of these two references sends to your congregation in 2017.  In this current context, what would a person sitting in the pew gather from those four lines?  What do those four lines say about environmental stewardship?  About the rise in antisemitism?  About the immanence and transcendence of God?

It’s those second set of questions that truly matter; much more than just noticing the presence of quotes.  You can read Dickens and notice scripture quotes.  It’s a fun game for car trips if you want to amuse tiny children.  But people who want to be priests need to do more.  This is not a trivia game. 

A quick review of our scoring system:  

Axios! ("Worthy!" and shouted at ordinations in the Eastern Orthodox Churches) = good question.
Meh = an OK question, neither good nor bad.
WTF = if you don't know what this means, google it.  But since you're an ecclesially minded person or you wouldn't be here, you probably say this at least once a day.

Out of the gate, Question 1:    A solid Meh. 


  1. Ann B Davis upon attending the Episcopal Church remarked - oh "this is where the Bible came from"

  2. BTW, not customary to bow during the Qodosh. You actually lift up on your toes three times as you say it. At least that's the practice in every conservative synagogue I have worshipped in for the last 20 years.


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