There has been a great deal of talk about the (apparently, I did not see or hear it,) abysmal music for the liturgy for the installation of the new co-adjutant ('zat the right word?) in L.A. and about what authentic inculturation is, and this, I think, speaks mightily to both subjects:
Whenever you see a picture of Pope Benedict talking to people, he's got this shy smile thing going on. And yet, he's brilliant, and although welcoming of people, he's ruthless about ideas. Regarding liturgy he can see nonsense claims coming from miles away--and then he devastates them.
[H]is remarks on the way back FROM Africa were ... dramatic. As I read them, I thought I heard the echoes of the old Bat Man comics' fight scenes.
Speaking of the Masses he celebrated in Cameroon and Angola, the Pope said,
"[I was] moved by the spirit of meditative absorption *POW!*
in liturgy, the powerful sense of the sacred *BIFF!*;
in the liturgies there was no self-presentation *BANG!*
of groups, no self-animation, *ZAP!*
but the presence of the sacred, of God Himself; even the movements were always movements of respect and awareness of the divine presence. *KAPOW!*
This multi-whammie, smiling pre-emptive measure undermines all future attempts to point to the African liturgies as a positive example of the multi-cultural fad in liturgy. Yet another ephemeral wave in the endless cycles of fads that have mainstreamed since the last Council, multiculturalism (like all the others) effectively downgrades the liturgy from the most intimate possible sharing of heavenly and earthly realities available to us on earth, to an anthropological celebration.
The most astonishingly candid expressions of the superficiality of multiculturalist liturgy are the various Dancing Puppet Liturgies, in which non-human, non-animate artifacts are dressed up to represent various colors and genders--which then "participate" in the liturgy.
I'm sure that we can all see the difference between Africans dancing at Mass vs. midwesterners, and their puppets, dancing at Mass. Yes? But the Pope wisely made a very public and clear distinction.
It's not wrong to express ourselves in the liturgy. But we must express ourselves liturgically, and in Christ. We are at Mass to open ourselves to God and to come into direct, real contact with the Father through Him--never losing the "sense of the sacred" and the "respect and awareness of the divine presence."
Incidentally, if you haven't bought a copy of her hymntexts, Hymns for the Liturgical Year, you really should. (And I, the cheapest, skinflintyest, most tightwadesque, miserish, scroogeazoid on earth do declare: THEY ARE A BARGAIN.