Tweeting the Eucharist

The Telegraph had a religion beat story that caught my eye. Here's the lede:

In a modern spin on Christianity's most sacred rite, worshippers are being invited to break bread and drink wine or juice in front of their computers as they follow the service online.

Churches usually require a priest to take the Eucharist, but the Rev Tim Ross, a Methodist minister, will send out a prayer in a series of Tweets - messages of up to 140 characters - to users of Twitter.

Those following the service are asked to read each tweet out loud before typing Amen as a reply at the end.

The move is likely to upset traditionalists, but the Rev Mr Ross argues that it is an important step in uniting Christians around the world and reaching those who might not normally go to church.

If you're waiting to read anything from the larger Christian community about why this treatment of the sacrament might not be a good idea . . . you'll be waiting a long time. Nowhere do we learn why a priest might be required for the sacrament or why the church hasn't supported self-administered communion from its earliest days. The phrase "Words of Institution" or anything similar are never used in this story.

No, instead we get a completely one-sided take on this with such insightful quotes as:

"It's a community that's as real and tangible as any local neighbourhood and we should be looking to minister to it.

Any response from a religious adherent to the idea that Twitter is a "real" and "tangible" place? Heck, any response from an etymologist? (Hint: tangible comes from the Latin for "to touch") No.

I actually find such fads -- remember the "online confession" fad from a couple years ago? -- fascinating. They lead to some really interesting discussions and debate about why the church practices as it does and whether such innovations compromise the meaning of these rites. This is not such an example of interesting discussion or debate:

Last year, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, warned that social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace could encourage teenagers to view friendship as a "commodity" and claimed the internet was "dehumanising" community life.

However, the Church of England has tried to appeal to the internet generation by setting up an online church which offers prayers and worship.

All very interesting. But only one of these "counterbalancing" points even tangentially relates to why the church has traditionally administered the sacrament as it has. And while there is certainly a relationship between the Methodists and EpiscopaliansAnglicans, on this topic they have different teachings that also should have been explained.

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