Quodlibet

Madness at the Poles

by S. M. Hutchens

I read today that kneeling at a ceremony at a place liturgists regard as improper, John Paul II refused to rise when his Master of Ceremonies instructed him to. It's reassuring to hear of JPII telling his professional nitpicker to bug off, for when is it improper for the pope or any man to kneel before God? What limits can the fabricators of liturgical systems admit to their proprietary rule? One of the great strengths of Prayer Book worship is that it discourages the madness one finds at the poles: that of the ceremonialists for whom no ornamentation is too much, for whom the significance of everything stifles that of the Principal Thing; and that of the liturgical antinomians whose theme is spontaneity, which always serves the degradation of corporate worship by the individualist impulse. One can die by starving on husks or choking on cake.

S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor.

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