Thursday, January 1, 2015

Liturgy as analogy today

In The New Criterion, Kevin D. Williamson prefaces a review of recent Broadway plays with this.
"In the days before the Second Vatican Council, the ordinary practice for Catholic priests celebrating Mass was to stand with their backs to the congregation, facing the altar, the idea being that the priest was not putting on a show for an audience but leading a community in worship. When that changed, and priests fell into the habit of facing the congregation, the act of worship was transformed into an act of theater—the folk guitars and interpretative dance and horrible sub-'Kumbaya' hymns were subsequently inevitable. A strangely inverted version of that process has been at work in the theater for some time: The old joke in Christian churches was that the congregation was there to 'pray, pay, and obey.' The contemporary theater is two-thirds of the way there: That the audience is there to pay goes without saying, though getting them to obey is not always easy. And as playwrights, directors, and producers have turned their backs on the audience—the role which is either incidental or economic—they have turned to face that which passes for the Divine in their world: themselves."

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