Monday, November 13, 2006

Religious Utilitarian Minimalism

Another short essay on the absence of "smells and bells" with a familiar theme:

Paul VI’s idea that the church could move “as far as possible” in the direction of Calvinist-style worship without detriment to Catholic souls so long as the traditional orthodoxy slept between the covers of the Catechism, is a conception essentially “angelist”. It’s shared by a great many Catholics today, in whom a tenuous, theoretical orthodoxy coexists with indifference, if not aversion, to the traditional formulations of faith and worship. This is evident in a kind of crass “validitareanism”, which prides itself in emancipation from anything beyond the bare requirements of sacramental validity. “Oh, I don’t need all that…God doesn’t care about all that…”

The author goes on to demonstrate how one might proceed...

Point A - God isn't concerned about that
Point B - That's trivial - God doesn't care...
Point C - Come on - I don't think God minds very much...

These were all pretty minor things...

...We've established a principle: that we can construct, reconstruct or discard according to our own perceived needs, without detriment to anything theoretically "essential". We've also started to alter somewhat the way our religious practice and beliefs look and "feel", because all those little minor changes of "unimportant" things, taken together, add up to something suggesting a real shift.

And, of course, the result:

By now we're well on the way to re-constructing a truly “spiritual” religion entirely in our own image and likeness; but what was once, in our dim, distant and superstitious past something that brought to life the vision of Isaias or St John in the Apocalypse now consists largely of being read at by middle-class people in nice knitwear. Where did everybody go?

(This article is excerpted from an email sent by a friend who did not include the name of the author...)

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