The Liturgical Nature of Distributism

When discussing distributism with a friend of mine, it led to a rather interesting discussion concerning liturgy. He was curious as to whether I saw a connection between liturgy and political science. The answer, at least for me, was quite simple. Yes! Liturgy is at the heart of it all, and for a number of reasons. 


As a safeguard of tradition, liturgy preserves those elements of life deemed to be of permanent value. These elements, while increasing in number over time, serve to expand our understanding of both the scope and breadth of its majesty and wisdom. It forms within the minds of men the concept of mystery, of awe, and of wonder. Liturgy teaches the faithful the value of nature, of the arts, and of the senses. Furthermore, it develops within us a sense of place and of purpose. There is hierarchy, their is the individualism of private meditations, and there is the communal dynamic of postures, common prayers, and the Eucharist. Most importantly, it is Christocentric. It places the Trinitarian God and his Church at the center of our individual, family, and social lives. 


This list, while far from exhaustive, is all well and good, but it hasn't explained why you contend that liturgy is at the heart of distributism. 


Distributism not only embraces each of these characteristics connected with liturgy, it is formed by them. It is formed by those things, both old and new, which are of permanent value. As Penty would say:


"Distributists work for a return to the past. But they do not wish to revive every in the past, for bad things as well as good things existed in the past.; nor yet to they reject everything that is new; they see to revive the things which are eternal in the past, the things of permanent value."


This philosophy, unlike the myriad of others, embraces the mysteries of life, the awe of the liturgical nature of days and seasons, as well as the wonder that accompanies the realization that he has placed man here for the purpose of dominion and reconciling all things in King Christ. Distributism embraces nature and its limitations as both inevitable and good. It wishes to preserve the beauty of the arts and crafts, imploring men and women to utilize their gifts and talents for the common good of both those present and those yet to come. The senses are relished amongst distributists, emphasizing on traditional architecture, dance, and song. Distributism places society in an organic context, finding that golden mean between atomism and collectivism. Each person has a gift and talent, and they were strategically placed by God in various communities to better both themselves and their neighbor. It gives men a sense of social placement, to honor both those under them and over them, and to treat their neighbors with charity, striving to ensure that their families and communities have a political economy that benefits both the individual and the common good. Lastly, distributism places King Christ and his Church at the center of social life. This is something that used to be reflected in the parish system and the construction of houses and businesses around the local church. While this may be diminished, or to have disappeared from our visual landscape, it remains vibrant in the hearts and minds of the distributist.


Repeating what I said in the beginning, liturgy is at the heart of distributism. Its incarnationalism results in a view of life that sees mankind as it really is and the destiny of mankind how it ought to be. This is not Utopian. This is accepting mystery, embracing limitations, making use of our God-given gifts and talents, and striving to bring all things under the dominion of King Christ. 


This is liturgical. This is distributism. And while helping Catholics and liturgical Protestants to see this correlation between our worship and our views of the political economy wouldn't fully resolve the difficulties that accompany attempting to persuade one of the wisdom, prudence, and justice of distributism, it would certainly set the ball in motion towards a place where people may be willing to abandon their inconsistencies for a more harmonious understanding of who we are, what we are destined to do, and the best means by which social reconstruction under King Christ may be accomplished.

1 comments:

John Médaille Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 4:11:00 PM CST  

Paleocrat, what a great post. Let me suggest another way that Distributism is liturgical. Liturgy, the public celebration of rites, is always a re-enactment, a performance. For the Pagans, it is a re-enactment of the founding myths, for the Christians it is the re-enactment of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ. For both, it is the injection of the timeless into the present moment, a moment when past and present meet and determine the future.

Distributism is that re-enactment of the past, that gathering in of the present and its projection into the future, extended into the economic and social realms. Indeed, no liturgy is complete unless it leaves the altar and becomes incarnated in the institutions and practices of our lives. Distributism, while dependent on no particular religion, is impossible without a "religious" view of life, a view that connects past and present to the future, the timeless and the eternal to the present moment.

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