Thursday, 31 March 2016

Oops... Could the Western Rite Please Try Again? by CJS Hayward

CJS Hayward is an Eastern Orthodox chap who has written a huge volume of material and has self-published it on Amazon. Not only is he a self-publisher, but he seems to be something of a self-publicist. He has been described more than once as a 'legend in his own mind.'

You might expect from the title that this short book would be a review of Western Rite liturgies, one which finds them inadequate. However, the book does not address any particular liturgies. Hayward's critique is not of the Western Rite itself, but of the mentality of converts to it. He argues that their approach and attitude to Orthodoxy falls short. The Western Rite Orthodox are ex-Anglicans seeking to convert, not to Orthodoxy, but their own club of ex-Anglicans. He also suggests that in seeking to reconstruct a lost western orthodoxy, the Western Riters are missing out on the glory of Orthodoxy as a living tradition. There is some substance to his arguments, but they are not at all well developed or argued. This does not seem at all like a book that the author has taken pains to research and plan, but more like a two-part blog post that has been published.

I'm not Orthodox, so I don't have a dog in this fight. However, I do find Western Orthodoxy interesting. As somebody who loves the Book of Common Prayer, I like the fact that the Western Rite Orthodox have used that liturgy as source material. It makes a sharp contrast to the tendency to narrowness and suspicion of western things that is often seen in Orthodoxy. The Liturgy of Saint Tikhon in particular, is not in any way a work of liturgical archaeology, but was an adaptation of a 19th century edition of the Book of Common Prayer.

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