Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Roving Recluse

I have been reading Peter Anson's spiritual autobiography entitled "A Roving Recluse: More Memories". For those who do not know who he was, he was an Anglican convert to Rome, and a prominent author on numerous subjects, especially those related to art and liturgy. For a time he was monk in the Caldey community, and later, with the whole community, made submission to Rome.

We seem to have much in common: a "roving and reclusive" spirit, a background and strong fascination with liturgical art and design, disdain for mathematics or anything else that does not interest us, love of the Church and religious orders, and more. One of the main traits we share is an interest in beauty and solemnity in worship.

He tells of his experience visiting the great Anglo-Catholic shrine parishes and communities, and also Roman parishes and religious communities in England and on the continent, and being overcome with the beauty and mystery of the services replete with chant, incense, lights, etc. That such accouterments were not standard in the CofE was one of the things which lead him to doubt its Catholicity.

I wonder what he would make of churches today, particularly his beloved Roman Church? Sadly the vast majority of American Roman Catholic parishes have a liturgy and building that is banal and iconoclastic. Like most contemporary churches (save the Orthodox perhaps), the Roman church has largely succumbed to "pragmatism" in worship, where the summum bonum is how "accessible" and "fast" the liturgy is. As an artist I protest this tendency. Even though many churches are doing the right thing in proclaiming moral and doctrinal truth, the Church by and large is weak and moribund because those very truths are packaged and sold in postmodern and pragmatic bubble wrap.

Truth does not go by itself, but rather must have a visible expression in beauty and goodness. In short, the Church does not do nough if she simply proclaims the truth. That truth must overflow into beauty and good works and goodness.


Anonymous said...

hi, stumbled onto your blogs - I am not a Continuer, but am often impressed by the devotion to the Gospel and to Anglicanism I find in places like this.

J. Gordon Anderson said...

Thanks be to God! Thank you for stopping by, and may the Lord bless and keep you.