Friday, August 29, 2014

Prenter in 1958

     "The moment liturgy is no longer the corporal form of dogma it has lost its proper significance and objectivity.  The sole criterion to which it remains accountable is the subjective one, the arbitrariness of the individual.  The religious service is elaborated according to the principle, 'This suits me the best!' ('me' being the pastor), or 'This is the kind [of worship] the people love best these days.'"

Because I've translated this fairly loosely, I give the French:

     "Quand la liturgie n'est plus la forme corporelle du dogme, elle a perdu à la fois son sens propre et son caractère d'objectivité.  Le seul critère auquel elle demeure soumise est le critère subjectif, l'arbitraire individuel.  Le service religieux s'élabore d'après le principe: «C'est ainsi que cela me convient le mieux!» (moi, c'est-à-dire le pasteur), ou:  «C'est la forme que les gens aiment le mieux de nos jours.»"

     Regin Prenter, "Liturgie et dogme," Revue d'histoire et de philosophie religieuses 38, no. 2 (1958):  125 (115-128).
     In the paragraphs that follow, Prenter is especially concerned with 3) aesthetic dilettantism, 4) the archaeological folly, and 5) historical exactitude at any price, in addition to the 1) subjectivism (or arbitrariness) and 2) sentimentality of preference, whether individualistic or fully corporate (for nos. 3-5 are but specific forms of nos. 1-2).
     So, annoyed by (say) the Danish obsession with "«lithurgie»" ("with [a] 'th'"), he wasn't really addressing even the 60s yet, except in principle, that of the inseparability of liturgy from dogma and dogma from liturgy, according to which nos. 3-5 are no less subjective and arbitrary than the most inane forms of worship-band music in the present.
     And then, beyond that point, it gets even more involved, such that one gets almost an entire "dogmatics in outline".

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