A few interesting articles in this easter season. First, my friend Tim Dees sent me an article on Slate.com which talks about the Episcopal Relief and Development agency's "new" stations of the cross exercise. For those of you who don't know the stations of the cross is a long traditional exercise found in catholic and some high Protestant traditions. It is used to remember the passion of Jesus Christ, particularly during holy week. Now here's a new twist from the ever creative Episcopalians...just a short excerpt from the Slate piece.
This year in time for Lent, Episcopal Relief and Development, the relief agency of the Episcopal Church, began offering a variation on the Stations of the Cross called the Stations of the Millennium Development Goals. It features eight stations, one for each of the global priorities identified by the United Nations in 2000, from eradicating poverty to promoting gender equality. Where each of the 14 stations of the traditional Stations of the Cross represents an event leading up to Jesus' death—"Jesus is condemned to death" and "Jesus falls the first time," for example—the alternative version, promoted by Episcopal Relief and Development, shifts the focus to righting global problems. At Station 8, "Create a Global Partnership for Development," participants are reminded that a "fair trading system, increased international aid, and debt relief for developing countries will help us realize" the U.N. goals. An optional activity at Station 7, "Ensure Environmental Sustainability," asks that "pilgrims calculate their carbon footprint and come up with three strategies to reduce it."
Interestingly enough even Slate understands why this is just goofy and trivializes the sacred:
The value of liturgy lies in its ability to unite people around powerful ritual moments. But the Stations of the Millennium Development Goals appropriate the form of the old-school Stations of the Cross service without retaining the sense of sacred mystery that makes it so powerful. That's no sin—but it is a bit of a shame.
I just think it is possible to worship the God-man Jesus Christ and care about global development too. Maybe its just me. It seems some denominations cleverly invent new paths to loosing one's way. You can read the whole thing here.