Teresa BERGER, ed. Liturgy in Migration: From Upper Room to Cyberspace. Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 2012. pp. 280. $39.95 pb ISBN 978-0-8146-6275-5. Reviewed by James DALLEN, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA 99258.
These papers from the 2011 Yale Institute of Sacred Music provide a wealth of insight for readers interested in the relationship of culture, faith, and worship. “Migration,” rituals moving between cultures, is the common theme. The Radical Orthodox thinker Graham Ward keynotes by considering matters related to “belonging” and public commitment. He highlights the need for the Church to catechize in the tradition when there is a decline in collective life. The papers are only loosely related to this consideration, though migration or movement certainly exemplifies belonging as border-crossing.
Clemens Leonhard presents the first of six “historical moments of liturgical migration,” between Jews and Christians in late antiquity. This sets the context for the papers at the Institute by establishing how “migration” is a more useful optic than “influence” or “parallel.” Several examples demonstrate his conviction that Jews and Christians were minorities influenced by the dominant culture, accounting for many practices they shared.
Three papers then examine specific historical instances of liturgical migration. Mary K. Farag’s careful analysis of a “prayer over water” found in several Eastern traditions is important for studying ancient prayers addressed to Christ and the earlier tradition of a Logos (rather than Spirit) epiclesis. Gisela Muschiol parallels migrating nuns and migrating liturgy in late-medieval nunnery reform in German-speaking areas. She shows that nuns learned Latin and received catechesis on the liturgy along with deeper grounding in prayer and made their contribution in art, especially painting and tapestries. Kazimierz Bem looks at a gradual movement toward liturgical unity among reformed groups in Poland and Lithuania.
Karen B. Westerfield Tucker looks more centrifugally, at the migration of Methodist characteristics (formal and informal worship, assembly space, hymns and songs, and prayer styles) over three generations: the Methodist Episcopal Church in the U.S. influenced the Methodist Church of Singapore which in turn established Methodism in Cambodia. Finally, Kostis Kourelis and Vasileios Marinis examine the experience of recent Greek Orthodox immigrants to the U.S., where the Church has become more presbyterian and the parishes more autonomous and then shows how liturgy and architecture are affected.
The second part of the collection examines six ongoing contemporary liturgical migrations. (1) Eastern liturgy and Western reform interests Anne McGowan, who sees Eastern influence on Western reform but refutes the myth that the East is ancient and unchanging. (2) Raúl Gómez-Ruiz, an authority on the Mozarabic liturgy of Spain, explores a parallel devotion to the cross in Toledo, Spain, and San Antonio, Texas, in their Good Friday processions. (3) Kay Kaufman Shelmay studies the experience of Ethiopian Orthodox refugees, forced migrants, and shows the challenges contemporary culture puts to a liturgy that is complex, where music and musical instruments are esoteric, and which has had a complicated clerical structure. (4) The contemporary experience of Asian Catholics is the focus of Jonathan Tan, who sees the future in creative and dynamic traditioning rather than trying to maintain, for example, traditional veneration of ancestors. (5) Charles E. Farhadian examines ecumenical interconnections among churches amid globalization as worship forms grow recognizably similar while they proliferate, with liturgies that globalize assemblies and mutually influence them. (6) Stefan Böntert offers theological reflections on liturgical migration into cyberspace, concluding that virtual sociality can supplement and expand established forms but not replace them, while showing the pastoral value of the internet for information, communication, and new forms of sociality.
There is a wealth of insight here for those interested in the encounter of liturgy and cultures. Though the material is sometimes demanding, it offers even nonspecialists a broadened vision of the ecclesial tradition and its worship.