Lifelong Nourishment by Baroness James

Lifelong Nourishment by P.D. James, Vice-President of the Prayer Book Society, from Prayer Book Society Journal, Lent 2006, pp. 8-10.

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  1. We live in an age imbued with a restless desire for change. It sometimes seems that nothing old, nothing well established, nothing which has evolved through centuries of experience and loving use escapes our urge to diminish, revise or abolish it. (P.D. James, Prayer Book Society Journal, Lent 2006) 9

    Postmodern western Christianity presumes anthropocentric worship. A liturgical nomenklatura has substituted academic theory for liturgical organicity. In Roman Catholicism, the clericalization of the laity and diminution of the celebrant dovetail with James’s remark that “relevance” fosters an exceptional view of 21st century humanity.(9) Anthropocentric worship relies on a pseudo-democratic conflation of the ordained and lay vocations. In turn, the postmodern romanticization of the pre-Constantinian church replaces the substrata of medieval and early modern worship with an ideologized synthetic narrative. Furthermore, romanticization fuels ever-changing liturgical innovation under the guise of relevance. The postmodern liturgical zeitgeist barely pauses to ask, “are the spiritual needs of a Christian from 1010 different from the spiritual needs of a Christian in 2010?”

    The relegation of the 1662 Prayer Book and the 1962 Missale Romanum to the margins of their respective churches epitomizes exceptionality. Synthetic postmodern liturgies collapse under the historical piety and confessional orthodoxy of organic liturgies.

      1. Yes, I’d agree. It’s more a list of talking-points to tear apart than conclusively researched arguments (what can be done with 1500 characters?) Baroness James’s article could also be critiqued as conclusory.

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