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The Living ChurchAugust 31, 1997Muddy Thinking by Barry E. B. Swain215(9) p. 4

Regarding the item "Anointed" [TLC, Aug. 10], I must say every time I think I have heard the dernier cri of made-up religion in this church, something more astonishing comes along.

I am delighted that there was a healing service for people with AIDS in this city. Had I not had a service of my own that night for the General Convention, I might even have attended. What amazes me is that it is quietly noted that Mrs. Chinnis, a lay member of this church, is "anointing" people. The BCP 1979 rubrics from that service: "Part One of this service may always be led by a deacon or a lay person." This clearly means that only a priest leads Part Two, which is the anointing. In fact, the rubrics say throughout, "the priest." Furthermore, why were all these people being anointed at a service for those with AIDS? This trivializes that terrible illness. Do they have AIDS? Have they some other serious illness? If not, then why anoint each other?

It is just this kind of muddy theological thinking which has led to the clericalizing of the laity and the laicizing of the clergy which we have seen. Is it any wonder there is no agreement as to what any of the sacraments means?

(The Rev. Canon)

Barry E. B. Swain, S.S.C.

St. Clement's Church

Philadelphia, Pa.