Sigh...A Response to Derek "Fr. Aidan" Keller
Why did Derek "Fr. Aidan" Keller post a seven-part article about me, a man with whom he hasn't been in contact for 19 months, in response to a message I left on the Occidentalis Yahoo group nearly two years ago? It seems Keller's friend, a Milan Synod priest, had commented on an Orthodox blog that the "Sarum Use" had been " translated, published & used" by Milan and ROCOR -- the latter a canonical Orthodox church. Our friend Ari Adams then clarified, "our ROCOR Sarum is *not anything* like that of 'Milan Synod'. Here they conflate our Western Rite with their own, elsewhere they condemn it as 'unOrthodox' as that of AWRV...The important thing: Vladyka Hilarion of Sydney has only approved and has in use in his archdiocese the Sarum use of Saint Petroc - *not* that being sold by the 'Milan Synod'. " As Keller is the translator and chief promoter of Milan's "Old Sarum Rite Missal" (OSRM), Ari's truthful words got Keller all worked up...at me!
After posting Ari's comments, the Milan priest asked Keller, "what are the differences in the Sarum Use between ROCOR & Milan?" Keller repLIED, "There is no specific text which is the official ROCOR 'Use of Sarum.'" In fact, the only Sarum text authorized for diocesan celebration in ROCOR, approved by Abp. HILARION of Sydney, is right here; it will also appear in the soon-to-be-published St. Colman Prayer Book. The text had also been posted on Occidentalis in 2004. It would have been easy to compare the two side-by-side and note the differences.
...As I did two years ago. (Well, sorta.)
Instead, Keller chose to distort my long-ago post. Like Ari and others, I'd seen Keller conflate his OSRM with that used by ROCOR. (His group description even throws MosPat and Antioch into the mix.) This and other statements led people to believe ROCOR dioceses use his OSRM. (They do not.)
As I noted in my original message, which was entitled Sarum vs. "Sarum," I was responding to Keller's claim that his OSRM "is approved within the Holy Synod of Milan and within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia...Our Sarum rite, specifically as published by St. Hilarion Press, has found approbation within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia." I pointed out Vl. HILARION (ROCOR) has blessed a Sarum liturgy for celebration in his diocese -- and it's not the one published by SHP/Keller. "The differences are clear to anyone who has eyes...If these are your disciples, they have erred." Then I listed a total of 45 "notable differences" between the liturgy approved by Vladika and Keller's "Old Sarum Rite." These differences often began, "ROCOR Sarum has..." or "Authentic Sarum has...." Immediately following these dozens of differences, I concluded, "If ROCOR HAD wanted to approve your liturgy, [it] obviously failed." Keller's linguistic sleight-of-hand would be like me "claiming since my name is Ben Johnson, I 1) was in plenty of movies with John Wayne; 2) won an Olympic gold medal for track in 1988; and 3) was buried in Westminster Abbey." Thus, it should be clear the purpose of these 45 "notable differences" was to distinguish between the liturgy Vl. HILARION had approved for celebration within his God-protected ROCOR diocese and Keller's liturgy (OSRM). Even one of his defenders in the discussion acknowledged this.
Instead of admitting His Grace had not blessed the OSRM for celebration, Keller labeled the many differences I found in my narrow comparison of OSRM with ROCOR, "Ben's 45 challenges," and treated my post as though I were claiming there were no source whatever for any of those practices. Thus, by citing a single source for any one of them, he could "defend" his OSRM from my "challenges" and "win." As he has long maligned the AWRV and Antiochians in general, this would have the added benefit of vanquishing someone he portayed as a "public advocate for the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate."
To make his recent "defense" the stranger, he actually began such posts in 2004, posting several messages based on this strawman premise. By the time he posted his original "responses," he had conveniently placed me on message review,  so I could not post messages without his approval. I told him he was misconstruing my post in a message I asked be posted online during this time, which he somehow deemed not fit to print. Soon, he censored all his critics and lost interest in providing sources. Then, two years later, immediately before Holy Week, he decided to resume the charade.
To be clear: My aim was to document that OSRM was not the text approved by ROCOR, but I accidentally referenced the wrong URL. I had not seen a complete text of ROCOR's Sarum until shortly before the post, though I knew some specific differences, and had been given a URL to the wrong liturgy. As a result, I inadvertently based my comments on the other WRITE liturgy authorized by Vl. HILARION: "The English Liturgy," an adapation of the historical Anglican liturgy (BCP). It contains many Sarum elements. Nonetheless, the differences with OSRM jumped off the page, and I read the text/wrote the post quicker than I would if doing a careful historical study. Although the URL error was mine, it actually undermines Keller's case: ROCOR not only does not celebrate the OSRM but approves a Tikhonite service he has viciously attacked with rare savagery and tenacity, as "Protestant," "Zwinglian," "the Episcopalian Rite," "Reformed Protestant rite," etc. Score two for canonical Orthodoxy.
Although by nature misleading, Keller's "defense" is not entirely without value. So many Sarum-philes and experts have told me they looked at his OSRM and concluded the entire thing was his invention. There are so many eyebrow-raising passages and Byzantized eccentricities one could be forgiven for assuming it is liturgical science fiction; certainly it bears no resemblance to anything anyone familiar with the Sarum use would recognize. For the most part, Keller's response to questions heretofore has been self-reverential assertion: "Trust me." Now those so minded can look up his footnotes and determine:
- whether his text is actually in the original sources;
- if it is whether its origins are pre-Schism or later;
- whether he's used the sources appropriately;
- whether it is a representative example of a widely established practice or his preferred idiosyncrasy;
- how the source was treated by history;
- the wisdom of his inclusions and deletions;
- whether other examples might be more meritorious substitutions;
- how other sources treat his source in each instance;
- the theological and devotional value or inferiority of the original;
- whether Keller's translation is adequate and standard; etc., etc.
Understandably, no Orthodox hierarch has undertaken this task. Nor has any body of recognized canonical Orthodox scholars, such as the Russian Synod of 1904 or the first WRV Commission of Frs. Schneirla, Schmemann, Upson, and Meyendorff did for the present WRO liturgies. Thus, the "Old Sarum Rite Missal" remains the unverified, non-approved, and still largely undocumented work of one layman, produced while he was still "Old Catholic." (And there are abundant reasons to question Keller's liturgical scholarship.)
I have not checked his footnotes, but they seem to confirm what so many of his critics said all along: it is an eclectic service in which Keller chose the most isolated Byzantine-sounding examples of local customs from varying eras and localities, all drawn from books published long after the Schism (even into the 19th c.), gave them an even more Byzantine translation into stilted English, mashed them all together into one liturgy he called "Sarum," and claimed the result was representative of nearly all pre-Schism Europe.
As one noted Anglican scholar points out, "the various [Sarum liturgical] books that survive (cf. above) come from a great many different places and dates." Nearly all are post-Schism. (Keller once claimed all, though that's false.) "There was not, therefore, one 'Use of Sarum,' and even when a particular source describes something as being 'according to the use of Sarum' (secundum usum Sarum) it only means Sarum Use as it was understood at a particular time and place and not as it was set down for all eternity in some one single source book...A composite 'Sarum Use,' therefore, must be pieced together from a great many different books and manuscripts coming from different places and periods." Even Keller, when pressed, admits the "variety" of the texts. Some practices were confined to one diocese or even one parish. The difficulty of stringing together several local uses (perhaps abuses) should be apparent. The question, then, is whether the OSRM is properly compiled -- an open question to be sure. It seems certain no one in pre-Schism England celebrated liturgy exactly as it is layed out in the OSRM. Much less did they prostrate numerous times upon entering a parish with "Western Rite" monks dressed in Byzantine habits serving Presanctified Liturgy weekdays in Lent and administering communion with a spoon and cloth under the chin. (Keller claims this was done "for pastoral reasons" -- reasons apparently never encountered in Western history, nor by anyone presently serving Sarum Mass in ROCOR.)
Since Ari's words started this, perhaps I'll let them summarize, as well:
[The OSRM's] sources vary widely...The ceremonial and much of the rite is based upon finding Byzantine analogues in Western customs that were either quite singular, irregular, or modern misinterpretations of antique material...it is not a version, but a new rite of its own...It is a work of liturgical archaeology, and has not been vetted by liturgists with experience in Western Rite towards whether it [is] (or can) [be] what it purports to represent: Anglo-Saxon liturgy of the 9th c.I would merely add if its sources were ever fully vetted and, somehow, approved, WRO must then discuss: whether such liturgical archeology is wise; how communities based on resurrected liturgies fared in the past (L'ECOF); and whether it is necessary and prudent to introduce (at least) the seventh liturgical variation in the 130-year history of the Western Rite (AWRV Gregorian and Tikhon; ROCOR Sarum, Gregorian, and English Liturgy; and L'ECOF's Gallican). I'd answer all (tentatively): negative.
But the fact remains: none of this was the point of my Occidentalis post, and Keller knew it. Should he wish to publish an article delineating the ways his OSRM differs from nearly every other version of Sarum and explain his editorial choices, he would do so more accurately without twisting my words in the process.
1. "One feature of Occidentalis is 'Daily Ordo,' a message that informs Western Rite priests and cantors how to arrange the next day's services according to the Gallo-Roman usage of Sarum. The Sarum Use or Rite is kept by certain Old Calendar and Russian Orthodox communities...Anglicans and Roman Catholics have made use of the rite." All this conflates Keller's OSRM with ROCOR, implying his "Daily Ordo" has something to do with ROCOR, Moscow, Antioch, Rome, and Canterbury.
2. I'd read Sarum missals years earlier, but to jog my memory I also referenced another recognizably Sarum text I'd quickly perused online, posted by an Occidentalis member, to make sure the ROCOR Sarum wasn't some bizarre mutant missing numerous elements Keller's had retained; it is not.
3. Timothy Hoopes, "I said that he had made an error bysaying that the authentic Sarum does not have tropes added to theKyrie litany. Upon a further reading of his post, I see that heactually says that the one particular ROCOR Sarum, which he saw, didnot have them; he most likely only meant to say, then, that the Sarumapproved by ROCOR was therefore not the same one prepared by Fr.Aidan and published by St. Hilarion's press."
4. For revealing the actions of one of his supporters.
5. I confess I was amused to see him call me "a noted published author in Orthodox journals and public advocate for the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate (AWRV)." First, as I stress, I am not an AWRV spokesman and everything I write is unofficial. Second, I have written perhaps two articles in three years for Orthodox periodicals. I have been on the periphery of the Western Rite for a few years, met many of our Vicariate's wonderful faithful, and still no one on earth understands that I'm not Benjamin Andersen. I run a four-month-old blog that can't get a dozen comments on any thread (as opposed to Keller, who has hundreds of sycophants on his Yahoo group). In other words, by worldly standards, I'm a complete nobody who just happens to love God, love His Holy Church, and believe in the importance of the Western Rite.
6. This was before his plebiscite.
7. This is the chief difference: Fr. Michael adapts the Anglican material to the Sarum ritual, whereas the AWRV placed it within that of the Gregorian/Latin Mass.