And? Here we go again on one of those all-or-nothing arguments that really gets on my nerves. As an Anglican I'm already aware of spending more time in church that the Average Mainline Protestant Bear, and I'm also well aware of the machismo opportunities that affords. It is depressingly common to hear Protestant to Orthodox converts essentially bragging about how much more time they spend in church. Your abridgement comment is an exaggeration.
That wasn't really the point of my statement.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š My point was that the modern Orthodox liturgy is a development of liturgical forms which originally lasted for about 5 hours.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Now, a lot has been cut from those forms to shorten the liturgy to its modern 1.5 hours (give our take, of course).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The point isn't the time spent as a mere quantity, it's the internal integrity of the liturgy.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The liturgy can be compared to a novel; you can only abridge it so much before the basic plot and development begin to suffer.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I also have had the misfortune of being exposed to the "bragging" of overzealous Orthodox converts, and I find it as distasteful as you do.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Nevertheless, it simply seems to me that further abridgements of the Orthodox liturgy would be a matter of quality rather than merely quantity.
And when someone else brings up the evangelical megachurches, as an Anglican one of my chief criticisms of them is one which I also direct at the most authentically Orthodox liturgy: that the whole event is a kind of performance which one need merely attend.
Personally, the problem I find with the megachurches is not that the congregation is passive (which isn't always the case, especially if the church is Pentecostal), but that they pander to desires for entertainment, novelty, etc. things that have nothing in the least to do with God or Christ or salvation or anything else of the sort.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The religious aspect becomes a mere matter of tacking on religious words to forms and practices which occur simply because they are "entertaining" or "appealing".ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š At a slightly lower level, the result is always extremely banal, aesthetically speaking.
In the details this breaks down, of course: the evangelical service is consciously a performance and the Orthodox service is unaware that it is. It leads to opposite errors of caring too much and not caring enough.
Again, I don't think the categories of "passivity" or "activity" are particularly applicable to liturgics.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Sure, it's possible for some one to go to an Orthodox church, just basically stand there and let their mind wander, then leave again, but it's just as possible for someone to just "go through the motions" at a Church where their active involvement is more expected.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š What matters is the "prayer of the heart", which can occur just as easily by internally joining in with the prayer of a chanter as it can by any external noise or activity.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Besides, someone who attends an Orthodox church will find many opportunities to venerate icons, cross themselves, and engage in various other forms of silent, but nevertheless physical, worship.
.. I have to disagree about "fundamentally". Indeed, under the circumstances I'll have to doubt the reality of secularization. What I see instead is compartmentalization of religion, which is utterly congenial to the secular.
This issue can be clarified by an analogy with physical substances, let's say the water and wine that mix together to create the Eucharistic chalice (for purposes of the analogy, water being daily human life and wine being the divine grace which should fill it).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It is true that, as long as the wine and water do not mix, there is no Eucharist, but it would be the height of folly to, on those grounds, dump out the wine and fill the chalice with all water instead.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The point is that the spirit of Christianity, which is embodied in its worship, should be allowed to penetrate our lives as a whole.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It's a question of levels.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š There is always a difference between the liturgy and our lives as we actually live them, but our aim should be to raise our lives to the level of the liturgy, not degrade the liturgy to the level of our lives.
Well, why don't you ask them, instead of speculating?
I'm not speculating.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I was using the word "fear" more as a figure of speech than anything else.
I don't have nearly enough time now to go into the issue of arts, society, and the church. Suffice it to say that it's vastly complicated by how contaminated church art is as a symbol of the church itself. It's extremely difficult to talk coherently about the meaning of church art as art because its separate meaning as a symbol of the church varies so much from person to person. I think there are rights and wrongs here, but I think also that we, as churchy people, are predisposed to misinterpret what other people see.
That's fair enough, but what I'm arguing against is the tendency to use those types of facts as a pretext to desacralize the Church, making it a mere vehicle to fulfil our desires, whatever the nature of those desires.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It is in the liturgy that countless generations have found themselves called beyond their constricting boundaries of their current situation.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š This is one of the many ways the traditional view of the Church "throughout the ages" is significant and life-enhancing.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š One of the functions of corporate worship is to resist the tyranny of the immanent, and, as I see it, modern liturgical reforms such as those occurring in some sections of the Catholic church and the Protestant "megachurches", are only serving to reinforce that tyranny.