Saturday, September 10, 2011

In 2004, Frank Senn analyzed not the Liturgical Renewal movement, but four liturgical movements (restoration, renewal, revival and retrieval) which currently exist, overlapping one another within not only denominations, but within congregations, in interesting and challenging ways. He characterizes the liturgical project of the post-modern emerging church movement as one of retrieval, which seeks to incorporate what is useful from the liturgical practices of the past, while simultaneously rejecting the modernist worldview of restoration and of renewal.

Postmodern concerns arise less from philosophical disaffection with modernity than from the loss of confidence in both holistic symbol systems and organizations. Enlightenment-inspired confidence in rationality is actually thought to be at the root of much of the evil in the modern world, which made humanity and human progress the center of all reality. Rationality and ideologies related to the doctrine of progress have produced genocide, ethnic cleansing, the exploitation of nature, the domination of the world by industrially and technologically advanced countries, and the growth of a seemingly permanent underclass in our country and in other nations... There have been too many failures. The post-baby boom generations have experienced the failure of human promises, first and foremost in the failed marriages of their parents, in the disruptions and dysfunctions that have occurred in family life, and maybe with the awareness that massive numbers of their generations were not allowed to be born. The starting point of postmodern thought is that all knowledge is more an act of faith than of reason, that all truth claims are provisional, and that all human understanding is incomplete. The master image of God seems to be the archaic, the primitive.

As we consider past and the future of the Liturgical Renewal movement, how do we propose to to move past a modernist worldview toward a post-modern worldview?

Frank Senn (2004): “Four Liturgical Movements,” Liturgy, 19:4, 77-78.

Frank Senn is past president of The Liturgical Conference, senior of the Society of the Holy Trinity, and pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston, Illinois.

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