It seems I've started something. Christopher over at Betwixt and Between was interested in my recent post on the Collect for Ordinations. And, as if his comments on that weren't interesting enough themselves, he went on to write this post. Then, his post stimulated this post by Derek over at haligweorc.
If the real questions are, "What can we claim as Anglican tradition," and "What do we mean when we call ourselves Anglicans?" - and I remain convinced they are - then discussions of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer are important. We have long said that the tradition of the Book of Common Prayer is central to what it means to be Anglican. Indeed, many of us, myself included, maintain that we manage not to fall into confessionalism by our practice of incorporating our understanding of the Christian faith into our worship, and so into the Book of Common Prayer. For us as Episcopalians to argue that we are Anglican, in the face of those who want to deny us on morals charges, we need to make our positive defence based in our worship and in the fullness of our practice - and that means the Book of Common Prayer, and in this instance the Book of Common Prayer 1979.
It seems likely that the Anglican-Communion-as-we-have-known-it will be altered. Like any loss (and there will be loss), we will have to grieve. We will have to recognize that we won't get the "old normal" back, and so will have to engage the hard work of discovering the "new normal." For that task, we'll need affirmative arguments, positive statements - statements of who we are, not who we aren't. Appreciating how we have maintained the Anglican tradition in our Prayer Book, and recognizing how we might maintain it better, will be part of that; and to that end I think Christoper's and Derek's posts are worth reading.