The Pantheisticon - a forgotten eighteenth century liturgy

A couple of days ago I posted something about the "Epicurean Gathering" we held in the church common room on Wednesday. During the course of that evening I mentioned the existence of a pantheistic liturgy devised by John Toland (1670-1722).

I came across him when I did some work on his "Christianity Not Mysterious" (1696) whilst I was studying in Oxford. I particularly enjoyed discovering his "Pantheisticon" of 1720 which includes, in three of its chapters, a wonderful liturgy that I once thought might be fun to try one day just simply to see and feel what it was like to do - a kind of "theological-historical recreation" - rather like Civil War reenactment. Odd though it may seem one can actually learn useful things from this kind of activity. One thing one might learn is whether it actually works! Not least of all because there seems to be some doubt about whether, in fact, it was ever used. Many scholars think it was simply a literary device.

John Toland
For those minded to follow this liturgy up, you can have a great deal of fun over at Librivox where we must thank Alessandro Gagliardi, Anna Simon and Ruth Golding for recording an audio version of the book. In the liturgy itself Anna Simon and Ruth Golding read the text responsorially so you can get a better sense of what might have been like "in action". Of course, this cannot make up for the lack of good company and food and drink that forms such an important part of this liturgy.

In its mix of prayer/meditation, food and conversation it was, of course, a major inspiration for our own Epicurean Gathering held this week.

Anyway, for those interested here's the link to the Librivox recording:


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