The Authority of Ritual Experts

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It should give us pause that representatives of so many different fields can gather to discuss issues of ritual and liturgy, with liturgical scholar joined by anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and historians of religions. Not only is it interesting that there is sufficient consensus to pull us all into the same room to listen to each other, it is also remarkable that there now exist so many different types of professional expertise on ritual issues. I am not content simply to marvel at this state of affairs. Instead I would like to take this convergence of different ritual experts as data for analysis and as evidence of certain developments in the way we are all thinking about ritual. Hence, instead of simply reflecting on ritual issues, I want to reflect on our conjoined efforts of reflection. While this will directly invoke the problem of "authority" that has been an explicit focus for this conference, we shall first have to deal with the authority of ritual experts before addressing the authority of ritual. I hope to show how closely intertwined these authorities can be.