quod pro nobis traditum est

Monday, May 03, 2010

Let the liturgy speak for itself . . .

On the one hand I am amazed by advances in internet communications. On the other hand I am a bit baffled. After having some experience with e-mail discussions and blogging, I seem to be slowing down. Besides the blogging accounts, I have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Although both Twitter and Facebook are great ways to communicate I find that I do not make much use of them (more on that later).

One cannot help but notice the progression in communicating using these means. In comparing blogging, Facebook and Twitter, the first usually seems to be used for more thoughtful content, or communications of greater length, while the last one is used for quick and, very short, bits of information. Each option certainly has its benefits.

Facebook, in particular, has me thinking why I think this is a great way to communicate while noticing that I do not make as much of use of it as I probably could. Twitter, on the other hand, is a means of communication I rarely use, probably because I do not think it necessary to tell people what I am doing at any and every moment of time. Such a tool may, in some ways, become more of a hindrance to the day. Back to Facebook. I admit to checking it regularly and I enjoy seeing what is going on with everyone. Every once in a while I click on "like" or add a brief comment. Still I find that I am not active when it comes to sharing this and that. I probably have added enough friends so that I have as many or more friends who I don't know as those I do. Even that I do not do as often anymore. Nor am I able to keep up with all the groups and fan pages that show up daily.

There are two things about Facebook that do not work specifically with me. First - information overload. Information overload mainly in that I would like to respond to many posts but simply cannot will not take the time to do so. Second, generally speaking, communications on Facebook are brief, longer than Twitter and shorter than blogging. Indeed, I commend Facebook to all who enjoy using it. I simply cannot get into processing tons of sound bytes and, hence, it is baffling.

Add to this the recent study about teens and texting, how most teens prefer texting to any other means of communication and how they compare it with other means of communicating online. Texting, as you might guess, is the quickest and shortest way to communicate. It is virtually a new language, and one that is way off my radar screen. In the study which I heard on the news a week or two ago the teens preferred texting to e-mails, for example, because they said e-mails were "too formal." Now we see how fast communication tools have advanced! And how informal communication has become. (Many of these same teens, undoubtedly, will not read this far down in this blogpost if it is even on their radar screen.)

Finally, it is no secret that in many Christian traditions, including my own, some leaders are looking to teenagers to bring guidance in questions of liturgy and worship. In my view, this is clearly putting liturgy on its head. There are many theological and practical reasons why teenagers should not be consultants on the liturgy. Then there is the whole related question of the holy ministry. The historic liturgy was never intended to be relevant and in line with the fads and trends of any given age or generation. The language of the liturgy is clearly meant to be distinct from other means of communication that people share with each other. If communicating by e-mail, as brief as that is, is viewed as too formal, then certainly the language of the historic liturgy, which is at the same time traditional and which leads us to eternal things, will not suffice. In this case, what really is at stake? Should "communications" or communications theories, however they are understood, take precedence over receiving and handing over the deposit of faith? In some cases, they already have. A related question is what then is lost in the process? It appears that a crisis in leadership is not unrelated to a crisis in worship.

Of all the means of communication discussed in this post blogging is certainly the longest or the most "formal." Let the teens continue with their text messaging (with parental limits, of course) but please do not turn them into liturgical consultants. In this blogger's view, formal and reverent worship, divine communication with man, is what the historical liturgy is all about.

(Hopefully, you have made it to this point in this means of communication.)

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