I wonder if you are using the 'quote' link, as this would create a new post with the previous post formatted as the ones you had left for me to see.
This is an interesting thread to have spent some time catching up with. In regard to a shorter liturgy. I suppose I have a few observations. On the one hand, for a Sunday liturgy, it is possible for folk to attend in Chatham at about 11am, just in time for the Gospel, and stay for the remaining 50-60 minutes. So not too long I don't think. (And we have folk who do this, especially with young children).
On the other hand, in my latter years in Evangelicalism the length of services was growing all the time. Some evening services might be nearly two hours long, with a period of praise beforehand, a lengthy sermon, and lots more singing throughout. I am not entirely comfortable with reducing the length of a service if it is only to satisfy the lack of concentration span among many modern people.
But, a little bit of research shows me that the Presanctified Liturgy was used in the Syrian tradition until the 13th century at least - and one text has the name of St Severus. And it was used, among other reasons, for those occasions when a full liturgy was inappropriate or inconvenient, and could even be celebrated with modifications by a deacon or a lone monk. Certainly we know that even in the Coptic tradition - which is strongly resistant of the reservation of the eucharistic elements - there was a normal reservation throughout the early period, which perhaps ceased due to the threat of Islamic desecration of the elements.
A Presanctified liturgy would indeed be useful, but we don't have access to such a practice. I am doing a liturgy tonight, and will be welcoming two British folk into the catechumenate, but the 3 or 4 of us will be at Church for 2 hours, which does not always and in all circumstances mean that we will be twice as reverent and worshipful as if we were there for 1 hour.
In regard to how I perceive the disconnect between what I expected of Orthodoxy and what I have found. I would say that I have reached a happy place where I embrace the humility and poverty of the British Orthodox Church, such that there is nothing there for us other than Christ in the eucharist and in each other. We have nothing else to offer people. There is no cathedral choir. There are a no gold plated roccoco decorations. When you visit us you find a handful of friendly people worshipping God. We offer ourselves to God and to each other.
I guess I have also come to embrace the notion of 'total uselessness' rather than 'total depravity'. There was and will be no golden age of the Church when everything was wonderful. On the contrary it has always been as human and provisional and corruptible as it is now. Therefore there is no need to fear the future or despair of the present. It has always been like this and yet the Church survives.
In 516AD it seemed that the anti-Chalcedonian position had finally prevailed. There were anti-Chalcedonian patriarchs in Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria. The emperor was sympathetic. Then in 518AD it had all changed. Patriarchs, bishops and monks were expelled. St Severus finds exile in Egypt. Yet the Church survives. In the time of St Cyril there was constant ecclesial stress. In the time of St Athanasius he spent much of his episcopate in exile. St Dioscorus dies in prison. St Timothy of Alexandria spends much of his episcopate far from home. Yet the Church survives.
It will survive these present times. It will survive our humble circumstances. Because we, in the BOC, are not the whole Church. We are one small community of a wider community of millions of faithful Christians in a variety of places and cultures who are all facing the ever present challenge of being fully Orthodox while being fully <add your ethnicity>. Our ethnicities are always a moving target, and so we must always be seeking to be genuinely Orthodox to our present and not to our past.
In my own experience I would suggest that what would be useful would be a good-quality proper Western musical setting of the Raising of Incense and the Liturgy. It is not unpleasant at all, but I would like it to have the sense of something which was a little more musical. I would also like (and this is something within my power) a greater sense of the calendar through the year. Perhaps also a better use of a few Western hymns, especially those of genuine antiquity, and also the setting to Western tunes of some others of the Eastern hymns. Also a proper and comprehensive program to develop a liturgical synaxarium (not just a book of saints) which rooted us in our own Western ecclesial heritage as well as the Alexandrian and universal heritage.
I have no great interest in the Western Rite project - since I do not come from a liturgical background at all. But I am interested in Western Orthodoxy - if that means an Orthodoxy which is naturally at home in the West of the 21st century, and not that of Anglicanism in the 19th century. It seems to me that generally Orthodoxy becomes properly inculturated by modifying what is received rather than starting from scratch. So I am not so interested at all in thinking of an Orthodoxy from scratch. But I do think that language and music are key to culture.