Friday, July 29, 2011
One of our St. Paul's members has enrolled in the United Church program for lay preachers and worship leaders and I'm glad because I think she will be good at it. She has purchased a raft of required resources in preparation, including a book on inclusive language. Inclusive language is gender neutral, whenever possible and this will be encouraged in her program, This can be something of a challenge because a lot of biblical language is male-oriented and patriarchal. But it's far from impossible to use language which attempts equality and I have used it all during my ministry because of my seminary training and my own convictions.
It's interesting that many people don't realize that I choose to use inclusive language. Many years ago a UCW questionnaire asked if the minister used inclusive language and one member wanted them to put down "no" as the answer. Other members pointed out that I did use it, even if she hadn't noticed.
Using terms such as "man" to describe humanity are long gone, and I just don't refer to God as "he." I'm inclined to use other Trinitarian formulas than Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, although most of the time we use the traditional Lord's Prayer. I'm careful about the hymns we sing, although both Voices United and More Voices have made the job of choosing much easier.
There is apparently a new gender neutral version of the bible, the Common English Bible, which is several years in the making and involving several hundred scholars. http://vimeo.com/14552988 While it won't be published in paper for a few months it is availabe digitally. I also read this week that the Southern Baptist Convention has condemned a new gender-inclusive version of the New International Version of the bible, a version very popular in evangelical circles.Honestly, I think the New Revised Standard Version which we use already does a really good job, but maybe this will further the cause.
Where are you with all this? Do you even notice how language is used in worship? Would you prefer the older style of language and words for hymns? What about inclusive language in the bible?