Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Liturgy and the Arts" by Albert Rouet

I've just started reading this exceptional little book, which was recommended to me by theologian Philip Sheldrake (author of Spaces for the Sacred) at a conference about 2 years ago. It's one of those that might have slipped under the radar for many folks who might otherwise be very interested in it's content. I'd better not attempt anything like a review since I'm still reading it - although I really appreciate what I've read so far - but I thought I'd share a few highlights to whet some appetites...and perhaps provoke some dialogue.

This first quote is from translator Paul Philibert's introduction, and is (I assume) more summative of the work as a whole; the remaining quotes are Rouet himself:

"So another principle of Rouet's theology is that the arts are not for ornamentation, but for evocation. Their role is not to fabricate an alternative world alongside ordinary life, with all its burdens and ugliness, even though the beautiful can be a relief from the heaviness of daily tedium. Rather, the arts have as their role the disclosure of holiness within the ordinary...The function of the arts in the Christian life and in liturgy is to map out the location of God's presence and to detonate the sacramental potential of the world." (p. ix - emphasis added)
"Liturgy is the transformation of a people. It addresses itself to people within their culture and their circumstances. It is something for today." (p. 10)
"Movement toward conversion is the real object of liturgy. This is how it makes a people to become "a people," creates them as the people of God. The real question is not if this liturgy pleases you, nor even if you find it beautiful. The real question is whether the liturgical rites move people forward to walk with God and to move toward God." (p. 19)

This next quote reminds me of something Dr. Tim Green said in his recent Hicks' Holiness Series, delivered at Mount Vernon Nazarene University (very worthwhile - available as a podcast here). To sum up the first of the three sermons/lectures, Tim said that the beginning of holiness - which is the story of what God is and has always been doing in the lives of God's people - is to receive life as sheer gift.

"Worshipping people are beggars. Because they know their poverty, their liturgy becomes the praise of that One who gives them everything. Liturgy succeeds when those who celebrate realize that they have been pushed beyond themselves..." (p. 20)

No promises, but perhaps a full-fledged review will follow. (Although considering I have two different journals waiting on reviews from me - Clive Marsh's Theology Goes to the Movies and John Caputo's What Would Jesus Deconstruct? - don't hold your breath!)

No comments: