I read a book. My reading habit has slowed as my time pouring over language grammars has increased. But today I finished a small and well written study on the issue of liturgical orientation. U.M. Lang's Turning Towards the Lord provides a concise summary argument for the need for a "common orientation" or a "common direction" for priest and people during the liturgy. His argument avoids extremes and offers, in the end, a rather balanced suggestion - a suggestion that is already supported by both the I.G.R.M. and the CDW, which is to celebrate Mass "versus populum" during the opening, communion, and closing rites and during the Liturgy of the Word, but to then celebrate the canon of the Mass "versus orientem".
In addition, he stresses the need not so much for a "versus orientem" (for many churches are not constructed on an East/West foundation and even if they are they may be, like St. Peter's in Rome, built so that the apse faces East and the main doors face West) but for a "common direction". He reminds us, as does the CDW, that we should not confuse "theology and topology". Theologically, the Mass is always facing God and facing people.
Toward the end of the book, Lang does address the critique that Masses "versus populum" lend to a subjectivism within the Christian community and that it "closes off" the Christian community and their theological and social outlook. I'm not sure how one quantifies that. I'm pretty sure I know what Lang speaks of and yet I'm not sure how that is quantified. "St. Brigid's parish on 5th St. is "closed in on itself and has a subjective perception of the Mass". Can one state that?
I appreciate this book for its clarity and that it avoids the pitfall of extremes.