Liturgical Trotskyism

ANALYZING the nuances of Marxist-Leninism was not one of my strong points, but I do remember that the key attraction of Trotskyism was its theme of perpetual revolution. We shall never arrive, we shall always be fighting for change; it was an exhilarating creed; why we did not realize that old age would make us victims rather than perpetrators of this constant revolution I do not know – presumably we were too young to care.

The most attractive part was being able to ‘prove’ that some seemingly august and permanent institution (like an ancient university, for example) was in fact no more than a structural framework for perpetual revolution. ‘Heraclitus 1 Parmenides 0’ as one might say when in bourgeois-mocking mood.

Marxism is dead, but once again the CofE gives life to its dying embers. You may not like the production values of CW, but they exist. That the paper used in the official books is ‘acid-free and guaranteed to last 150 years’ is reassuring; or rather, it would be if the foundations were not in the process of crumbling even before the concrete is dry.

To read about the Wakefield proposals for new and better collects at the last General Synod was what one might expect, but to read the commendation of it in this month’s mailing of our diocesan liturgical news is to realize that Trotskyism lives in the modern CofE. This is not disgruntled bad guys like you and I but the solid mainstream proposing the overthrow of CW’s material before its first liturgical year is completed.

Is it only liturgy that is in perpetual flux? What about marriage discipline? As we await Son of Scott-Joplin, promised for 2002, we know in our hearts that it too will be no more than another stage in the endless process of change.

The agenda for Sacred Synod may not be as exciting as 1999, but what we will have before us is the wonderful challenge – to make firm, clear statements (on which we can deliver) about the liturgy and the sacrament of marriage. That is not the whole of the Gospel, but it is a good place to start; it would be a fine achievement if we could begin to put an end to this rampant revolution. NT

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