onsdag 3 juli 2013

Theology must assimilate contemporary science

Arguments about the liturgy roll on. In my view it was a key factor in the implosion of the Catholic church in the last four decades. The reforms drove some people away altogether, and their withdrawal from the active life of the church cannot just be explained away as inadequate faith. There is a limit to the amount of liturgical abuse that people can be expected to tolerate.

As the years wore on, those teenagers who had, as often happens, left the church before the reforms, returned in later life to find a church they could no longer recognise and relate to. Thus an important source of (re)-recruitment was lost. A further issue was, and remains, the use of special liturgies for children and indeed the infantilisation of the mainstream liturgy, which made the church childish-seeming and something to grow out of.

I believe that the problems with the liturgy can be understood by reference to
  1. the anthropological theories developed by Barthes and Levi-Strauss in the 1960s, as these referred to earlier work on semiotics by Saussure and others,
  2. the cross disciplinary work on lingustics and psychology and
  3. recent work on neuro-psychology and brain function, with an input from genetics and evolutionary theory.
The results of this work has been quickly grasped by those with an interest in making money by selling things. The big advertising and publicity companies, for instance, of necessity, employ staff with a sound grasp of these subject areas, but it seems that it has yet to find its way into theology and related disciplines.

There is a huge amount of recent cross-disciplinary material to be assembled and  integrated into contemporary theology. To cut a long story short, it would be concluded that the old saying lex orandi, lex credendi applies. Whilst the simplified form of Novus Ordo will continue to have its place - it is perfectly satisfactory, useful indeed, for example, in small communities for weekday use, and for didactic purposes - public celebration of the liturgy, especially in large spaces or when a lot of people are present, the Extraordinary Form needs to be the norm.

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