Thursday, April 02, 2009

Why Rubrics are Red

Check out this decorated cake that was messed up because of confusion between the instructions and the actual text.

This is why rubrics (instructions) are in red typeface in both ancient prayer books and modern hymnals. In fact, this is why instructions are called "rubrics" - from Latin "ruber, rubra, rubrum" which are the three basic ways to say "red" (masculine, feminine, and neuter genders respectively). In time, the red writing became synonymous with instructions.

The messed up cake reminded me of the botched ordination I attended in which the ordaining pastor simply read the words out of the book without regard to the parts that were rubrical instruction: "I ordain and consecrate you into the office of the holy ministry of the one holy catholic I. E. Christian and apostolic church," missing the point that he wasn't supposed to read the part in brackets: [i.e. Christian] - which is itself a silly rubric put in place to "clarify" to Lutherans that they are Lutherans. In the end, it wasn't really helpful - at least to the assistant district vice president who was conducting the ordination. One more argument against our synod's Dumbed Down Pastor Program (which for some reason is abbreviated SMP and not DDPP).

How about more liturgical rigor and a new emphasis on literacy and common sense (rather than less) when it comes to preparing men for the ministry?

That ordination rite was the ecclesiastical equivalent of the scene from Animal House where the guy administering an oath says: "I, state your name" and the guy swearing the oath blindly repeats: "I state your name."

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