Monday, July 15, 2013

Tracey Rowland flap on "barriers" to the TLM

First of all, here's the source of the controversy, a brief video segment of an interview with Tracey Rowland about the TLM in which she discusses what she calls "three barriers" to the Traditional Latin Mass: (1) "aestheticism," (2) traditionalists' "funny clothes," and (3) the association of the TLM with "opposition to Vatican II." So much could be said about this, it's not funny. I was going to write: "spoiler alert" with a comment of my own; but I shall restrain myself and leave the commenting to you.


Here are some of the initial replies to Tracey Rowland [advisory: the give and take can be somewhat brutal]. But watch the video and respond for yourself. I had to laugh at the comment about "funny clothes," which (like the "aestheticism" remark) belongs in my opinion on the other foot, the one with the sneakers or flip-flops tapping out the beat of the Praise Band. But maybe that's just me. Excerpts from Joseph Shaw:
The first thing which strikes me is that the first two criticisms are pulling in different directions. What she is saying, essentially, in the first is that EF-goers are too middle class. They are educated, articulate, can detect 'buff notes', and like talking about it after Mass. The sort of people, in short, who might be friends of Tracey, and might accompany her to Mass or talk to her afterwards. Or who might turn up to a one-off special occasion Mass in a Cathedral with a special choir and so on. Perhaps this is the only kind of EF the great Professor has made it to.
In the second criticism, she is saying that EF-goers are not middle class enough. They are the sort of people who take the obligation to dress modestly more seriously than the demands of the modern fashion industry .... Rowland's second criticism could be described as social, or moral (because those trads take morality too seriously - shame on them!), but above all it is aesthetic. Professor Rowland thinks it is wrong to criticise a professional choir for fluffing Lassus, but quite appropriate - indeed, a good thing - to criticise a Catholic mother for not having enough money to get the latest dress.

What of the last point? ... She is annoyed that too many people attending the EF don't agree with her take on Vatican II.... Like the people criticised in the second point, the people she is talking about now do not just 'love the EF because it is beautiful'. It is hard to resist the idea that Rowland thinks that it would be better if they did. Their crime is to ponder the implications of the Catholic Faith which are so eloquently represented by the Traditional Liturgy, and to allow those implications to transform their lives and their thinking about a range of issues. If only, she seems to be saying, if only they were more superficially interested in the liturgy, if they just popped in and out of different kinds of Mass for a bit of 'enrichment' without thinking too hard about the theological issues this variety raises. Pope Benedict, of course, is a prime example of someone who doesn't just enjoy the variety of Masses facing the people or facing East, people kneeling for Communion or standing, and so on, but has to spoil the 'enrichment' by pointing out that there are serious theological problems with the usual OF practice, and insofar as that can be blamed on the Spirit of the Council, too bad for the Spirit of the Council.
See also Fr. Dickson's remarks linked above.

Update: "Final reply to Tracey Rowland, by the Melbourne Latin Mass Chaplain" (Rorate Caeli, July 16, 2013): "A definitive reply to Rowland's remarks, by Fr. Glen Tattersall (comment to previous post)":
Dr Rowland is Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne. She is a person of some prominence in the Church in Australia.

As chaplain for those Catholics in Melbourne attached to the Extraordinary Form, I feel compelled to offer the following observations, given that Dr Rowland claims to speak from experience:

1. Dr Rowland rarely attends Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Melbourne - I can recall having seen her once at Mass (a Low Mass on a weekday) in the last two years;

2. I do not recognise as present among the Catholic Faithful I am privileged to serve any of the problems she alleges in her interview.

Sincerely,

Fr Glen Tattersall Senior Chaplain, Catholic Community of Bl. John Henry Newman [Arch. of Melbourne, Victoria]
[Hat tip to JM]


23 comments:








c matt

said...

Two of the bugs she mentions are actually features. The TLM is, in a very real sense, a protest against the "spirit" of VII, not VII itself.

The fact that attending the TLM makes NO regulars uncomfortable is more an indictment of the NO attendees than the TLM. Shouldn't we feel a little uncomfortable in the presence of our Creator and Savior (and perhaps the bit too casual attitude towards God encouraged by the NO)?

However, there are some real barriers to a wider attendance of the TLM. The NUMERO UNO barrier is the practical nonexistence of it in most dioceses. It's like a mega-movie theater showing "Monsters 2" on 18 of 19 screens with 10 different time slots, and "For Greater Glory" on one screen at one time slot, and then wondering why FGG doesn't have as high ticket sales.





Thaddeus Kozinski

said...

Rowland's talk at Santa Croce was superb, but how dare she say one bad thing about the TLM!!! The neurotic reactions to her supremely accurate (and hilarious) critical comments during the end of her talk vindicate the accuracy and prudence of her critique more than anything else.





Anonymous Bosch

said...

Thaddeus,

I heard that Rowland's talk was great, and I do like Rowland's work, as far as it goes, especially her Culture and the Thomist Tradition.

This doesn't prevent her remarks after her great talk from being, as Fr. G. Dickson's reply suggests, short sighted, unhelpful, insensitive, condescending, uncritical (in the positive sense), one-sided, and off-key.

I'm surprised you would stoop to ad hominem terms such as "neurotic reactions" yourself, as I've been a long time admirer of your publications.

Personally, I don't think the problem is one of criticism being offered of the TLM, but of distortions and oversights being presented as though they were insightful criticisms. Genuine and substantial criticisms of the TLM might made, but I don't really see them being made here. I don't even think it's a matter of traditionalists lacking a sense of humor (remember Michael Davies?). I think she just entirely misses her target, because her target is a straw man.

Yet you refer to her "supremely accurate (and hilarious) critical comments" and the "accuracy and prudence" of her critique??? Pray tell: where?





JFM

said...

"Supremely accurate"?

So it is OK to point out the preponderance of adult nerds and geeks amongst the faithful? I feel like I am back in Youth Group!

Rowland basically shows faint traces of Rob Bell syndrome: we must make the message cool, or how can we expect to be taken seriously. What is true now was always true, in high school, on college campuses, and back in Palestine... the Gospel is the message of foolishness, and it does not measure up against the success measuring rod of the world. It attracts the unattractive, and those who are not fashion-infatuated. So what?

I wonder, is it also OK to point out the the Pope seems to have geek tendencies, wear pencil neck type spectacles at times, and most of his priests seem fashion-impaired?

I would expect such things form a Young Life staffer, but not a liturgist. Oh wait, this is the *Catholic* Church: liturgists, even neoCaths, can be depended on to protest *something*. Even if Rowland's talk was spot on, her comment reflects an Emergent Church vibe that has infected us since Vatican II. It got us nowehere, ever since our House of the Future-liek fantasies were stoked by Paul VI. If you want window-dressing folk and impeccable liturgies, get to the Episcopal Church where a priestess will be fashionably coiffed and enunciate impeccably. If you want the Jersey Shore vibe, cruise to any Norvus Ordu and be offended by the heretical homilies. Or, tolerate the Back to the Future fashions at the TLM and be grateful for their faithfulness without trying to change them into the cool kids. At least the wear ties and dresses, and give the impression the event has some degree of significance. You won't find anything similar in a typical Catholic parish outside of Steubenville. And if Rowland's talk was spot on, likewise were the resultant criticisms. If the lady can dish it out, I assume she can also more than take it. With a grain of salt and Project Runway.





JFM

said...

And of course many ARE neurotic: a sense of betrayal, especially from what you regard as a divinely-ordained Church, tends to do that to you. Simply trying to keep the Faith, and you get the equivalent of a bitch-slap from the Prefect of the CDF? Then your friends make jokes about your clothes. HILARIOUS!! Woa, lighten up, dude!





Anonymous

said...

Hi. I just found this blog. To add my 2 cents, Rowland seems to forget that it is the bishops and priests who have made this situation by their attitude towards the EF and denial of access to the faithful that desire it. I lived through the changes and remember my parents being called heretics because of their love for the traditional Mass. On the other hand, I have seen some over the top fashion at my local TLM, but most people dress normally, although more dressed up and modest than at the Ordinary Form. I've even seen some pantsuits and no one bats an eyelash. Maybe it's more of a Midwest thing?





Beefy Levinson

said...

Thaddeus,

What terrible animals they are. When they're attacked they defend themselves!





c matt

said...

Well, similarly accurate and hilarous remarks could be made of NO attendees as well.

For example, if a protestant were to attend a typical NO service, based upon the average attire of female attendees, he would likely be justified in believing the RC Church to be the whore of Bablyon.





I am not Spartacus

said...

Dear Mr. Kozinski. I would imagine her "superb" observations are based on her many personal observations:

(From Rorate)

Dr Rowland is Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne. She is a person of some prominence in the Church in Australia.

As chaplain for those Catholics in Melbourne attached to the Extraordinary Form, I feel compelled to offer the following observations, given that Dr Rowland claims to speak from experience:

1. Dr Rowland rarely attends Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Melbourne - I can recall having seen her once at Mass (a Low Mass on a weekday) in the last two years;

2. I do not recognise as present among the Catholic Faithful I am privileged to serve any of the problems she alleges in her interview.

Sincerely,

Fr Glen Tattersall
Senior Chaplain,
Catholic Community of Bl. John Henry Newman [Arch. of Melbourne, Victoria]





Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

Rowland's first point, aestheticism, is well taken. If there are people who attend the gregorian mass, and spend all of their time during the mass gathering performance notes for the post mass analysis, then these people are missing the point of it all. I would nominate Hans Urs von Balthazar as their king.

But I have to say that such people sound to me not so much "middle class" as self-styled NPR intellectuals. My rovings these days do not take me to many university communities, but I was once part of one, and I can tell you this much: one thing that damn few self-styled intellectuals are likely to do is attend gregorian masses, as the analytical Dr Rowland apparently does not.

But there are droves of them in the milieu of which Tracey Rowland is undeniably a part: the university environment breeds them like dank water breeds mosquitoes. Might it not be that Rowland is judging others in light of her assessment of her own nattering proclivities?





Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

Rowland's second criticism is simply nonsense. Assuming that she is speaking of the attire of the people in the pews, it makes no sense to maintain a view that attire is irrelevant to the appreciation of the mass on the one hand, and then claim to be bothered by one sort of attire, that is neither immodest nor inappropriate, on the other. Are such pewling remarks truly a basis for antipathy toward the gregorian mass?





Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

Rowland's third criticism, that the gregorian mass is too much associated with those who criticize and even reject Vatican II provokes a response: what would you expect, professor? It was Vatican II that ratified agitation for the basic liturgical changes that opened the door to the travesty of Bugnini and his committee of quiltmakers. And it is Vatican II and its ambiguous documents which account for the intransigence even of so-called "conservatives" regarding the awful status quo. Those who are loyal to the gregorian mass are obviously most likely to feel that the outcome of Vatican II was that their church, the Catholic Church of the ages, had been taken away from them, and replaced with an ersatz Church of Christ catering to the egos of an ersatz People of God, with just plain "Catholics" hardly surviving outside of Ripley's wax museum. Rowland is apparently incapable of understanding this fairly easy point, and is offended by the possibility of attending mass in the company of some who might not appreciate the sumptuous wonders and blessings of the Council of Aquarius.

Are her supercilious and obtuse remarks the result of an inflated ego, or a concern over cutting the properly modern Catholic jib at the John Paul II Institute? They certainly are not worth much standing on their own. All in all, I find it hard to believe that they came from the author of "Culture and the Thomist Tradition After Vatican II," a book which certainly suggests a more penetrating mind than is on display here.





JFM

said...


After all, this is pertinent...


http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/2424/the_future_of_liturgical_formation_and_renewal.aspx#.Uen74RYcgbA





Ralph Roister-Doister

said...

"how dare she say one bad thing about the TLM!!! "

No. The proper question is "why does she feel obligated to say three bad things about the TLM"?

A mass she has no obligation to attend?

Yeh, yeh, she says she is only reflecting the opinions of others. But they are clearly opinions consistent with her own, which is why she is concerned with them in the first place.





Thaddeus Kozinski

said...

Rowland's critical remarks are not only spot on (and genuinely witty) but also necessary and prudent. She is, yes, poking fun at those traditionalists who take themselves way too seriously, who think they can judge the Magisterium, and who do not/cannot see themselves the way others see them, and don't care to do so. This is a serious lack of charity. They are, in a word, in their own world. I have personal experience of this and frankly, I despise it, and so did Our Lord. It's Phariseeism, pure and simple. I wrote about this Phariseeism as well as the deeper problems within the traditionalist enclaves here, if you like (which you probably won't but read it for a challenge): http://ethikapolitika.org/2013/07/17/the-gnostic-tradition/





Anonymous Bosch

said...

Thaddeus makes some good points in his linked article. Yet there is something disturbing about the animus Rowland's opponents.

What this suggests, to me, is the psychology of the convert. There is no more doctrinaire ideologue than the convert. Likewise, there is no more bitter opponent of his own pre-conversion disposition than the convert. This leaves him sensitized (nay, overly sensitized) to any whif of his previous disposition.

What Thaddeus tells us about critics of Rowland, therefore, tells us far more about Thaddeus than it tells us about critics of Rowland. The object of his attack is not them. The object of his attack is himself, or what he despises in himself as he was, or in the self that he thinks he has jettisoned like a tattered overcoat.

The sad thing is that the blind spot he is so intent on condemning (like the log in his neighbor's eye in Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount) is nothing less than his own blind spot. The Pharisaism he is so intent upon condemning is his own Pharisaism, which he fancies no longer resides in his own lilly-white soul.

Thanks for your insights, Thaddeus. May we learn from your example.





Anonymous Bosch

said...

Damn computer. That should have been: "animus with which he condemns Rowland's opponents."





Thaddeus Kozinski

said...

Anonymous:

Psychologism/deconstructionism isn't a valid objections It may be true what you say, that I protest too much, as it were, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't also apply to others.





Anonymous Bosch

said...

Thad,

True, genetic fallacies are not logical defeaters, but psychogenic accounts can help to explain what otherwise makes absolutely no sense. And your arguments make absolutely no sense. Merely asserting that they are obviously true doesn't make them so, and the replies to Rowland both in posted articles and remarks in the comment boxes, offer an ample supply of logical defeaters. Hence, the need for psychogenic account that explains the bizarre phenomenon of your ad hominem broadsides against perfectly decent people who defy your caricatures of "traditionalists," whatever they are.





Thaddeus Kozinski

said...

My article provides reasons for my claims, and good ones, I daresay. You haven't engaged any of them, but resort to psychologism, a very weak tactic.





JFM

said...


It is one thing to say, "Hey guys, sensitive much, lighten up!" It is another to say, "Damned right, you guys are self-righteous nerds." That this is the essential response to the response casts things in a pretty definitive light. Rowland's comments are witty? Again, who "cannot see themselves the way others see them, and don't care to do so."





Anonymous Bosch

said...

Thad,

Same back to ya, you most amusing feller.





Kate

said...

I have just read a paper on Tracey Rowland's work on Thomism. It is scathing. And embarrassing for her. She fails to understand the foundations of Natural Law and reason. It would appear that she has not been properly schooled.

http://members.iinet.net.au/~raphael/rowland%20natural%20law.pdf