Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A critic of the "Reform of the Reform" from the left

Our Canadian friend Paul Borealis just called our attention to John F. Baldovin's Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to the Critics(Liturgical Books, 2009), via J. Peter Nixon's review, "Engaging the Opposition" (America, September 14, 2009).

Looking up the book on Amazon, I found an ample review by Alcuin Reid(scroll down), which gives it three stars and begins with this quotation from Mahatma Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." While Reid concedes that it is far too early to declare victory, particularly in debate over the production of modern rites, his incisive discussion, highlighting numerous flawed assumptions and arguments in Baldovin's 197-page book, leaves the reader doubting whether there is much if anything to be learned from this book that has not been already stated numerous times before by partisans of the liturgical status quo.

Nixon's review of Baldovin's book in America strikes a balanced tone, but bears the luggage of all the-usual-suspect assumptions found among those drifting among the flotsam and jetsam of the AmChurch mainstream. It refers to the Novus Ordo as if it were an established "rite" (It is not: it is the Roman Rite's "ordinary form," whose unsettled form continues to be debated) and the intended product of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (It is not: they did not envision free-standing altars, the removal of Communion rails, Communion in the hand, the ordinary use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, women serving in the sanctuary, etc.), rather than a series of progressively institutionalized innovations stretching over the last four decades; and we're still waiting for the latest changes in the once-again-reformed vernacular translations of the Lectionary.

Nonetheless, if there is anything positive here, it may be the simple fact that the once trendy-lefty radicals who are complacent with the status quo have finally noticed that there is, in fact, an opposition with substantive arguments and attempted engagement.

[Hat tip to Paul Borealis and Alcuin Reid]

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