Sunday, June 28, 2009

Living Beauty: The Art of Liturgy

By Alejandro Garcia-Rivera and Thomas Scirghi, Rowman Littlefield, 200 pages.

This dense, sophisticated theological read covers many current and twentieth-century areas related to liturgical practice and theory. The authors adopt the concept of “ressourcement,” an approach developed by twentieth-century French theologians that heavily influenced Vatican II.

The authors also look to the more recent past and current academic outlooks by examining postmodern thought, which leads them to discuss some philosophical basics of the Church:

“[Jean-Luc] Marion feels that the very nature of God has been compromised by theologies, such as Thomism, that see God as ipsum esse, or Being itself. God cannot be conceptualized, Marion insists, and any attempt to do so is idolatrous. Thus, God cannot be conceived in terms of Being. God is beyond such conception. God is God without being.”

This sort of book represents the kind of theology that will influence the Church's present and future leaders because it deals not only with atheistic materialism, but with the philosophical underpinnings of this ideology and with how Catholic thinkers can respond.

Unfortunately, the average Catholic reader will not have the education or training to understand reflections like the following:

“If in modernity, the issue was whether the invisible made visible was an illusion of superstitious premodern thought, then, in postmodernity, the issue is whether the visible is truly the invisible it purports to be. It is this issue that liturgy must take up if it is to render divine Mystery.”

A rewarding read, but best left to the professors.

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