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Liturgical Press


Liturgical reform has not been well received by some cultural anthropologists and sociologists of religion. Most, of course, have ignored this quiet revolution and its ramifications, but a few have reacted strongly. In this very journal, for example, the justly renowned anthropologist Victor Turner lamented the loss of the dignified pre-Conciliar Mass and the emergence of "relevant" liturgical experimentation.1 Turner's reaction is not an isolated case among scholars, although it may be the most direct.2 Such opinions clearly suggest the dangers of forsaking scholarly distance or appealing to a professional "expertise" to decide what is proper ritual and what is not. It is doubtful, for example, that Turner would have so harshly judged ritual reforms carefully deliberated and implemented by the Ndembu. Yet with regard to Catholic ritual, he even backed his critique with the credentials of "science."3 The root of such reactions, however, is not simply a loss of objectivity or a display of scientific aggrandizement. Rather, selfconsciously changing ritual presents scholars with a major conundrum, a contradiction of sorts that is rooted in the history of approaches to the study of ritual.


Copyright © 2005 Liturgical Press. Reprinted with permission.

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