Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two Recent Pieces on Society, Liturgy, and the ISM

St. Athanasius of Alexandria (source).
I have meant to share two pieces I read recently for a few days.

At Theology, Schmeology, a reflection using the article from the Athanasian Creed"Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance" as a guide to icon painting leads to larger thoughts on church and society:

Healthy society requires individuals in relationship with each other. (And it's almost as though our two political parties have each selected a half to goof up! Liberals confound the person: "We're all the same! Everything's equal! Whatever I like is true - and so is whatever you like!" while conservatives divide the substance: "I've got mine, I don't owe you anything! Take the country back from the 'other' in our midst!" )

I think this is also a part of what annoys me about a certain tendency among what I will term the "liberal" (for want of a better term) side of liturgical Christianity - they seem to have a particular weakness for getting stuck in the ideas of their heads, rather than inhabiting their physical space (even, and perhaps especially, while talking about "use of space!") And so you end up with altars placed in odd places, weird unforeseen emphases, awkward movements, bizarre proportions implying importance and lack thereof of all manner of furniture and ornament, to cater to a particular idea - but at the cost of "dividing the substance."

At As the Sun in Its Orb, a piece titled What Justifies Our Existence includes the following passage:

At one time, humanitarian work and the combat for human rights were the work of the Church. Not any longer. The Welfare State, public health services and social security have taken over. The system is highly bureaucratised and wasteful of resources, but it works better than the Church ever did. The churches no longer have the respectability they once had. They are starved of justification on the humanitarian and social front. Speeches about these matters by churchmen sound so hollow and devoid of meaning!

I think that independent sacramental churches have the relevance of being “pre-Constantinian”, relying solely on spirituality and the liturgical / sacramental life. No politics, no support from the secular authority, no way to force people to do or believe anything. One can try offering entertainment, but the TV does it better, and in the comfort of people’s own homes! The only way truth can be believed is by being credible. If this aspiration to the transcendental is not met, then people will not be interested.