Mosebach’s technique is quite stunning by the use of contrast, building up the reader through his description of the spiritual experience, and then presenting the case of an “authentic” Christianity without a liturgy. Surely, Jesus was as the Protestants and the 1960′s reformers portrayed him. The Gospel shows little sign of any ritualism on the part of Christ. If anything, he seemed to oppose such an obstacle to simplicity, innocence and authenticity judging by the way he blasted the Scribes and Pharisees. It looks as if Christ not only intended to sweep away Judaism with its Law and traditions, but all formal religion. We seem to be reading about the ultimate anarchist!
From the beginning of church history, we find reforming movements laying waste churches, images, monasteries and priests and all the paraphernalia of liturgical worship. The same movement springs up again and again, in the Franciscan movement – not only in the order approved by Rome but also the marginal movements like the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the Fraticelli and the brothers of Fra Dolcino. We have the Lollards in England and the Hussites, and then finally the Reform movement exploded in the sixteenth century. Within Catholicism, it resurfaced in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with Jansenism and in the wake of Vatican II. This mindset obviously has very deep roots in Christianity itself, and we can only ask ourselves if it represents true Christianity.
Mosebach then brings this anti-ritualist movement into the events of his own life, his Protestant father devoutly reading the Bible and his mother holding to a minimalist understanding of Catholic religious practice. After this, he asks the very question of……….
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