Peeters Online Journals has posted the Table of Contents (with abstracts) of the latest issue of Questions Liturgiques / Studies in Liturgy, the international, peer-reviewed journal founded by Dom Lambert Beauduin in 1910, currently edited by our colleague Joris Geldhof (KULeuven).
Among the articles is mine, “The Liturgical Is Political: A Narrative-Theological Assessment of Alexander Schmemann’s Work,” for which the abstract reads:
This article revisits the work of Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983) to explore strengths and weaknesses in his arguments concerning a critical question for liturgical theology, namely, the relationship between sacraments and ethics, faith and (social) action, mysticism and politics, liturgy and life. Schmemann published a tight corpus of writings focused on articulating the irreducible, eschatological content of the liturgy as revelatory of divine redemption, while continuously insisting that this fundamental tradition of the church is doubly crippled by ignorance of its eschatological nature and mistaken efforts to draw contemporary social concerns into its practice. Thus, a thesis aligning the liturgical with the political provokes a reassessment of Schmemann’s contribution to the field of liturgical theology. A review of some of Schmemann’s more trenchant statements among his widely read textbooks opens into a broader interrogation of his publications – especially his posthumously published personal journals – so as to advance the question from the perspective of political theology. In the process, narrative proves a methodological link between the two types of theology, particularly through the contributions of Johann Baptist Metz and Edward Schillebeeckx.
The burden of the argument driving my revisiting of Schmemann’s corpus, especially his posthumously published Journals, comes together toward the end of the article’s conclusion:
Political theologians, perhaps most pointedly Schillebeeckx, have argued that there is no salvation outside the world. Liberation theologians, such as Sobrino, have sharpened that thesis, on the hermeneutical basis of Scripture, tradition, and history, to assert there is no salvation outside the poor. Tragically, one searches in vain for the poor in Schmemann’s journals. He never once substantially reflects upon noticing, and therefore never remembers, them in the streets of New York or other world cities, making just one enigmatic possible allusion to the poor in Mexico City. Despite brief indications not ruling out but, rather, subordinating social-ethical praxis to liturgical participation, Schmemann’s written corpus repeatedly insists on the mistaken priority of “bringing [Christ] down into ordinary life.” My concluding (mystical-political) counter-proposal is the evangelical call (Matt 25:1-13) to go out to meet him, the bridegroom announced in the darkness (one of Schmemann’s favorite metaphors for the world) of midnight. Negative experiences of contrast take a redemptive turn when believers, confronted by godless situations, enter the struggle with the afflicted, and in so doing experience the arrival of God (divine-human presence even in failure!). As Schillebeeckx argues, there is a mystical dimension to Christian ethical living itself.
 There is but this one short paragraph in Schmemann’s Mexico City entry: “I am worried about Mexican Orthodoxy—so naïve, childish, trustful and wholesome. Everything is poor and radiant and everywhere these dark-eyed children who come to you with angelic beauty and light.” The Journals, 124.
The full description and analysis, of course, develops over the course of the article’s nineteen pages. I offer the abstract and excerpt to Pray Tell readers and colleagues, so many of whom, like myself, consider Schmemann’s work crucial to the 20th-century development of liturgical theology.