Tuesday, February 2


Liturgical Arts Quarterly Goes Bananas

Our gracious readers will be glad to hear my day of lectures and activities with the seminarians of Kenrick-Glennon went swimmingly. These guys are smart, perceptive, and quick on their feet--the future of the Church is in extremely good hands. This evening, while sorting through the bowels of the seminary library (literally a sub-sub-basement of it) I came across one of the final issues of Liturgical Arts Quarterly, a periodical which was magnificent in its first ten to twenty years, mediocre in its next period of life, and staggeringly, breathtakingly horrible as it went down in post-Conciliar flames in the 1970s. I have at hand as I type the fortieth anniversary edition of the magazine, published in November 1971, and it is a doozie. First of all, it is inexplicably dedicated to the theme "The Sea," and the general vibe is this is some sort of press material leftover from a film called The Life Aquatic with Teilhard de Chardin. It gets better. Here are some selected titles, many of which could make good rock band names:

"Triumphal departure of the BEA submarine chapel."

"A 'Batoid' Peace Ship, illustrated."

"Liturgy and Play in our Expanding Tele-Civilization."

Well, you get the feeling. The first one is actually a frontispiece, and looks like something Adolf Wölfli threw up. Its full title seems to involve something with the Indian takeover of Alcatraz.

A nugget of questionable wisdom from this quarter's edition: "In the stream of history, the possibilities of a chapel on the moon, illustrated in our November 1967 issue, could lead to an approachable reality in the twenty-first century. [Dude, where's my flying car? --MGA] In like manner, the underwater chapel, devoted solely to peace, illustrated in our fortieth anniversary number, is a posisble dream."

Random thought: Wasn't there a nuclear submarine named Corpus Christi?

More maunderings about this imaginary ecumenical submarine chapel and its imaginary voyages follow, in theory starting in 1976, and conclude with the very good question, "What has this all to do with liturgical arts?" Respondeo dicendum, the editor answers, "In a narrow sense, an underwater chapel may smack of the absurd..." Please, editor, I beg of you, stop there. It's just easier for us all. Of course, he does not, and follow a series of rather odd articles, including one with the following lines: "For the Vatican to show up spouting off Tierra del Fuego or submerging near Gibraltar [...], all this breathes of cinema..." and then goes on to start talking about God without remembering to capitalize the initial g of His name. Can the submersible Vatican be equipped with 32-pound guns? Can we elect Jack Aubrey pope, while we're at it?

Crackpot arcologist Paolo Solari gets, of course, a usual mention, and one page includes facing images of a map of Constantinople from the Liber Insularum Archipelagi of Cristoforo Buondelmonte, 1422, and some dolphins trying (it seems futilely from the caption, which describes the mammals as potential "ne'er-do-wells"), to be taught to sight-read sheet music of "Deep Side Blues," if that can be believed. There is a rather unexpectedly pretty image of a Dutch 72-gun warship named Gouda, 1665, all sails and Baroque stern curlicues, and precious little about liturgy.

Seriously, what were they putting on their cornflakes?

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