Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Respect the Ex

My father used to tell me, "Son, don't bad mouth your old girlfriend to your new one. She'll think you talk about her that way too." I later learned the wisdom of this applies also to marriage. Imagine the awkward inappropriateness of telling your wife, "Man, you're much better in bed than that girl I knew in college!" Bad idea. Keep it to yourself.

Anyway, I'm finding that a similar notion applies to migrating from one Christian tradition to another. The personal benefits of entering the Anglican communion do not need to be placed in stark contrast to my previous church arena. I can appreciate much of what I inherited from the old tradition, and feel no need to "diss" it in order to affirm my adopting of the new. Some things may suffer the occasional comparison, but the focus need not be negative. There is no fundamental need to expound upon how "I couldn't stand anymore for this so I escaped to that."

And yet, some debates have ensued that require me to draw the contrast. It's as though the previous "girlfriend" cannot allow a gracious breakup, but instead insists to know "what is it that you didn't like about me?" This is awkward because you would rather just say, "It's not you. It's me." No matter how cliche' such a cop-out might sound, it's born of the desire to break up kindly without focusing on a critique of perceived annoyances.

I am learning to appreciate the Anglican way, and adopting a measured sacramentalism that finds value in the practices of the ancient Church. The Book of Common Prayer is a great comfort when one realizes how unnecessary has been the dichotomy between prayer "meant" and prayers read. It is not a choice between reading it or meaning it if indeed one learns to both read it and mean it simultaneously. The liturgy provides a mystical continuity with ancient Christians, so that one feels as though they have entered something with some real history behind it. I truly enjoy our new "relationship," and this is true without feeling the need to disrespect the old one.

1 comment:

Jude said...

An excellent analogy for an excellent point.

I never made as drastic a transitions denominational as you, but I have done so (fundamentalist, pre-mil, dispensationalist, Baptist to a more reformed, post-mil, covenant theologian.)

It's also not a good idea to bad-mouth fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of denomination.

A great post, Aaron. Much appreciated.