Thursday, December 28, 2017

T&T Clark Studies in Fundamental Liturgy - FAIL

With its iconic cover, based on past experience with other pricey titles in the same series, I did not hesitate long and looked forward to reading this tome. I must say it was a disappointment. I cannot recommend:
The Banished Heart
Origins of Heteropraxis in the Catholic Church
Geoffrey Hull
T&T Clark International, New York, 2010

Giving it my best effort, I attentively read the first half of the book and sampled here and there in the latter part, with special attention for the author's conclusions. The book just does not deliver. No doubt, if I had perused the bibliography before ordering the book, I may have given it a pass, although the chapter headings are quite captivating.

The author's oriental bias is just that, a bias. His preference for the married parochial clergy of the Byzantine world over and against Tridentine, seminary trained celibate Latin clergy is unfounded, as are the conclusions which he draws concerning the relative vivacity of the liturgical life in the pre-conciliar period of the Church's two lungs. There is no rhyme or reason to what he chooses to praise in one tradition and criticize in another. I say this on the basis of my own experience as papal representative to Ukraine and what I know about the ongoing efforts of bishops and clergy to meet the challenges of living the faith in a Byzantine context in our day and time. 

His caricature of  the Latin confessional as a deformation of auricular confession and penitential practice is nothing more than a shot from the hip. As recently ago as my young priest days in Italy, in most parishes the confessional was reserved for women's confessions (for the sake of the grate to separate confessor and female penitent) and for men the confessor sat up front in the open.

Dumbfounding was the author's dismissal of Baroque art, architecture and liturgy, summing up polyphony as little more than a mean transfer from the opera stage to the high altar. 

For these and for many more generalizations or snap conclusions, one might rightly mistrust the author's sweeping condemnations of nearly every Pope in the last 150 years, plus countless conspiracy theories plotted against the tradition by the curial entourage.

 Chalk this one up to impulse buying and let's move on! 

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