February 3, 2007

What’s In A Name?

It is time for Saturday Satire once again, but reality seems to overtake satire at times. So I want to focus on the strange speculation (that-will-not-die) that the use of “The Episcopal Church” instead of “ECUSA” is some kind of recent plot designed to bolster our being an international body — a sort of mini-Communion to “rival” the Anglican Communion — as columnist* Ruth Gledhill opined last year in a piece headlined, “Ecusa [sic] is no more, long live The Episcopal Church.”

Well, let me set the record straight, as “ECUSA” has long been one of my pet peeves — at this point having outlived one-and-one half cats.

[...Peeve Mode On...]

We have never been “ECUSA.” From 1789 on through 1964 we were “PECUSA.” In 1964-1967 two General Conventions amended and then ratified our new Constitutional Preamble introducing “The Episcopal Church” as an optional monicker. In 1976-1979 the new BCP was adopted, in which “The Episcopal Church” became the preferred form. We continue to use the full PECUSA-lingo in things like the corporate name (DFMS-PECUSA) and on the title pages of the Constitution and Canons, but since 1967 it has been perfectly correct to use TEC — and many have done so. True, some people have used “ECUSA” all along, and will very likely continue to do so. But this has never been a correct “use.”

[...Peeve Mode Off...]

I hasten to add this is among my lesser pet peeves. There are more important things to be peeved about, and Lord knows I have had and will have ample opportunity for bepeevement in the recent past and near future. But it is Saturday.

— Tobias

* I refuse to dignify as “journalism” a report that headlines news nearly forty years old, apparently without realizing it.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Note that Saturday Satire only appears when Friday Satire has been missed. I am in a particularly peeving mood this evening, as I had planned on attending a screening of Children of Men this afternoon. I read the book years ago and had wanted to see the film for weeks now, but not had the opportunity. In addition, it is now only playing at a very few cinemas. Well, I'd planned on the showing this afternoon, only to arrive at the cinema after planning my day around this, to discover that what I thought was listed as a 12:45 showing was a 12:45 AM showing. Grrrr.

Anonymous said...

this is all true, but it feels to me as if some crucial part of the story is being carefully left unsaid.

i have been told, multiple times, that the reason for preferring "The Episcopal Church" over any form that has the name of the US in it, dating indeed all the way back to the sixties, is precisely to underscore that we include overseas dioceses, and so it is simply inaccurate to say "in the United States of America" as if those dioceses did not exist.

it has been held out to me that the reason we should prefer a name without the name of the US in it is that this is more respectful of the full membership of those overseas dioceses.

if this is so (and it certainly has the ring of truth, and is not inconsistent with your relation of the other facts) then there is some truth to the notion that "The Episcopal Church" is intended to preserve, in the name, that we are not, really, in any actual literal sense, a "national church" and are truly international.

i have heard members of the staff at 815 (including some we both know well!) and of the executive council repeat as a point of pride that the episcopal church is not a purely American thing, that we have within our jurisdiction an international diversity, and that this is a fact to be celebrated and rejoiced in.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Oh yes, Thomas, you are correct in all that. The reason for dropping the "USA" was (back in the 60s) to emphasize the international nature of the Church's membership.

My point here is that this was not based on some effort to form a rival "Anglican Communion" -- if anything it merely confirms that TEC, like the CofE, is an international church in and of itself (though TEC has more non-US jurisdictions than the CofE has non-English.)

June Butler said...

So, guys, TEC it is. Sounds right to me. In fact, that's what I've always called it. The Lord knows, we don't need another Anglican Communion.

I remember the picture at Fr. Jake's showing the flags of the countries that were represented at the convention.

Tobias, I've been wanting to see Children of Men, also, but I dilly-dallied, and now it's gone from my small-town theater.