Liturgical Texts in Postmodernity II

This is the first of five sections (and 5 blogposts) of an MTh essay unpacking the problem of text in postmodern contexts for worship and the implications for the Liturgy Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia.  It specifically reflects upon the Commission’s 2009 Alternative Service for Holy Communion.

circles of intrigue by textiles artist irena boobyer

A Fragmented World

The greatest challenge for the Liturgy Commission of the Anglican Church in Australia is the incredible rate of change in the world. This is not merely an issue for styling the content of Anglican liturgies, it is a structural, institutional difficulty. The pathways for creative nurture and renewal of Sunday worship assume the adequacy of an institution whereby a cohesive identity may be created through the ministry of the Episcopate, supplemented by a committee system. However, this paradigm of authority is untenable to postmodern Christians and the good intentions of the Liturgy Commission are in danger of being completely lost.

Whilst it is true that most present day Anglicans could not accurately be described as ‘postmodern persons,’ it is also true that our cultural context is inextricably linked to our life of faith and worship. It is a problem then, that the culture within which the Anglican Church of Australia is located, is well underway in its transition to a new paradigm. Hughes argues that “human beings construct their meanings (a meaningful world) from the meanings culturally available to them” and has illustrated this point convincingly in relation to the modern cultural context.1 Hence the Liturgy Commission have to come to terms with a potentially unknown gap between the world from which they are writing and the world in which the liturgy is received.

footnotes:
1Hughes (2003) p.219

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