Friday, August 12, 2011


Coolly religious: the ethos of Low Mass

An American Lutheran church in the ’50s. Relatively low-church but it works because it’s old-school, copying the Congregation of Rites (Tridentine Mass) even if it doesn’t say so. Calm, some might say dead, but it’s what a lot of people want, and to give reserved northern Europeans their due, it doesn’t have to be ostentatious to work. Churchmanship like this is where I started, just old-school and high-church enough that, as I like to say, it Vatican II-proofed me for life and ultimately sent me out of Protestantism. (Found Anglo-Catholicism, a step along the way, in my teens: similar building but 19th-century Roman Catholic practice and style on steroids – big high altar, side altars, Stations, statues and votive-candle stands everywhere – crammed into a small space. Charming, more like something immigrants built than a postwar Mass barn. Wonderful.)

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