Liturgy and Memory

In my last post I pointed out how democratic governments almost always degenerate into some form of tyrannies, ironically becoming the thing they professed to oppose.  The U.S. Constitution, despite being a secularized Enlightenment document, cannot force belief, reign in tyrants, or change the ethos of a people.  Restoring the constitution does nothing to regenerate culture.

At this point in the discussion, a clever republican could point out, “You see, you are exactly like the Israelites of old.  They wanted a king to save their country.  You, too, want a king to save your country.”  (Actually, there are still some important differences, but I see the point).

If all I were arguing were that monarchy would save the fate of Western culture, then I would be guilty of the same thing as the liberal democrat and constitutionalist.  However, I am not arguing for restoring the monarchy (at least not immediately).  Before that, we should restore the liturgy.


This is an admittedly difficult point (but is part of the challenge of “Political Imagination.”  (Which liturgy should we restore?   My argument here is not to argue for any one particular liturgy, be it Eastern or Western.  I am not a cultural relativist, and I do not view all liturgies as equal.  I simply realize that others can give better discussions of this or that liturgy).  For the moment, I am simply pointing out the effect of liturgy upon society.

Liturgy and Land

At its broadest level, liturgy is how the Church embodies and acts out its faith.  Unlike the Constitution, liturgy is directly concerned with the worship of God.  Contra the Lockean project where men are simply billiard balls bouncing off of each other, liturgy demonstrates how men are interconnected (of course, this presupposes a Christian society).  Liturgy is both vertical and horizontal.

Western politicians at least since the age of King John of England have wrestled with the question of the limits of the king’s authority.  They sought to “bind the king to the law,” or something like that.  King’s could be bound to the law from time to time.

Liturgy, however, does not bind the king to an abstract “law,” but rather connects him via baptism to the people.  King and commoner are thus bound together before God.