I'm not surprised that our slightly pompous post from yesterday produced some comments, though it didn't turn out to be the flame bait I had thought it might be.
In one comment our Franciscan friend Jason challenged us to render comment on the Gospel procession from somewhere called St. Nicholas. Apparently their little video was circulating a while back and drawing the ire of the more conservative catholic bloggers. Check it out here.
Now I don't know the place or its background, so it's dangerous to make any claims about it based on this little video. But it is true that this general question of "liturgical dance" produces a lot of strong feelings. For some it is a liberating expression of joy. Others see it as a hippie accretion bordering on sacrilege. So what can we say? Is this sort of thing justified, or even just o.k.? Well, yes and no.
If you haven't seen anything like it, I would recommend The Dancing Church, a video of African Poor Clare sisters put together by Paulist Father Thomas Kane. Here you can see liturgical dance working as worship. It works because it is an inculturation of the Gospel into a dancing culture in which dance is integral to prayer and praise.
It doesn't work so well when north Americans of European ancestry try to do it. Why? Because we come from the culture that produced the sober and understated Roman liturgy we all know and love. When we start trying to do liturgical dance, it's not a legitimate inculturation, but an effort to invent our own liturgy, to do what we feel like doing. And thus it becomes one more symptom of the greater problem (brought to us via the New Age, I think) that we can invent our own religion and worship according to our tastes and fashions.
So if you're an African Poor Clare, praise God in your dance. But if you're a white, suburban European-American, get over yourself, and, as the Beastie Boys put it, stop "dancing around like you think you're Janet Jackson."