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Eric Speece
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Joseph. I’ve always found him extremely fascinating. I guess that’s partly due to the fact that we’re told so little about him. We know he was incredibly obedient to God. He was present for Mary’s pregnancy, Jesus’ birth and childhood,... Continue reading
Igor, I'm glad you like it. Absolutely. Feel free to use it in whatever way will be helpful. peace, Eric
Geoff, Thanks! I really like that. I think deified is the right concept here, especially in a sense of "reconciling all things"and having chaos taken up and transformed. Perhaps, 'overcoming' chaos is more along the same line as 'defied'. On another note: I need to make one revision. As was pointed out to me this week, Kavanagh isn't saying that worship 'is' the world, but that it is done 'in' or 'through' worship. For example social barriers are torn down (rich and poor eating together). Which then puts Kavanagh and Wannenwetsch more on same page then I originally thought.
Earlier this week, David Gelernter posted a really good article over at Big Questions Online that caught my attention. It did so because I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine, who works as an aerodynamicist for a... Continue reading
Eric Speece is now following Dan Siedell
Aug 25, 2010
Yeah, that helps. I'll keep thinking through this a little more.
Also, when you said "would require us to adopt a more process oriented ontology that is grounded in an original and irreducible multiplicity rather than in God's original, singular, and exceptional ontological status as the Creator", it kinda threw me for a minute. That's because I assumed you would have stated the opposite. So let me ask this -could the doctrine of Creatio Ex Nihilo, God's speaking creation into existence, not fit just as well within a material semiotics, rather than assuming an original multiplicity?
Adam, that's very helpful and raises a more fundamental question, then - is this a repetition of ontotheology?
Adam, I think this is a brilliant move - moving hermeneutics out of the epistemic into the ontological. I really want to go there with you, but I'm just not sure how. If "signs are not a way of “overlaying” material reality with a “representational” system that will hopefully more or less “fit” the way things actually are", then want kind of implications does this have on, say, sacramental theology"? I guess, I'm asking for some examples....I think....
D Could you elaborate a little on your thought? I wonder if it's "superficiality" as opposed to "simplicity" that you worry about. In a lot of ways, I've noticed that the more complicated the song is, the more it distracts, or at least, the congregation has to focus so hard on hitting the right notes that it kinda stifles focusing on the Spirit. A good example of the use of simplistic, yet deep, songs would be Taize. Their songs are intentionally simplistic (and repetitive - even mores so than the 7/11 praise choruses that everyone loves to hate) and it is that very nature that allows the Spirit to move.
I think I see what you're saying...perhaps that the more "sermon-centered", "non-liturgical" worship style doesn't make space for forms of aesthetic expression?
Actually, that's great point. Music isn't limited to 'songs' only. And it adds the question -is there is anything theologically, linguistically, or aesthetically significant about singing the liturgy verses saying it?
Thanks Andy and Jamie for taking the time to provide these. I appreciate it. Hopefully, Jamie, Wiley-Blackwell will be gracious! As I suspected, Hauerwas does get at the issue. I, for one, hope that more take to heart his encouragement towards "writing-out" and I believe that journals like MT will find a very receptive audience in places they haven't reached yet, if it happens. I know from experience that there is a desire within the church for theological depth and some people will take the time to engage various aspects of theology if it's accessible. I'd love to justify having this as resource in the church library.
Since I'm not currently in a position (academically or financially) to access the journal, I'd love for someone to discuss the main points of Hauerwas' article. I recently had a conversation with someone about the question of academic publication. I do believe there's an important place and practice for academics in a specific discipline to write about things pertaining to that discipline. But too often the stereotype of 'academics writing about academics for academics' is just too much even among popular publishers. Writing / publishing for the Church (as we do here) I hope continues to become more of a priority, not only so that the writings can be accessible, but also so that the dividing wall of suspicion between church and seminary can hopefully be effaced.
Nouslife-that's a good point, and something that I wish I had more ideas about how to create the space for. I think you're right about "rave-mass" being a good place from which to think about. I know that some the UK 'fresh-expression' crowd have incorporated that with the use of dj's and such. But, even though a more organic, open-source worship is good, can we really get away from or even want to get away from 'front-lead' songs? I guess I see that one role of the music director is to create space for participation.
Steve, Thanks for the comment. It's good to hear that others have found the same situation to be life-giving.
Amanda, Sorry for the delayed response. You raise an excellent point about a funeral service being itself (albeit different) a worship service. I think that point actually gets at your beginning question. Here's why: Stanley Hauerwas talks a lot about Christians helping others to learn to "Die Well", that is, overcoming fear in the face of death by the hope of the resurrection. Maybe then, a funeral as a time of worship helps us to "Mourn Well". The opening lines in the funeral rite of the BCP are Jesus' words "I am the resurrection and the life, whoever has faith in me shall have life even though he die." The rest of the prayers, in one way or another continue with that theme of hope in the resurrection. As I was planning music for that time I tried to choose music that would emphasize that fact. Mourning well because we have hope in the resurrection doesn't mean that we shrug off grief and go about our lives all happy and bubbly, what it does mean is that our grief is properly concentrated so as not to turn into despair. Jesus' words that I just quoted came in the context of Lazarus' death - a time when our incarnate savior himself was grieving deeply. So if our funerals are times of worship then they allow us time to grieve properly in the presence of Christ who overcomes death and keeps us from despair. But what about music specifically? Well we know that in a "normal" sunday morning gathering that the whole time is 'worship', but isn't there something specific about music that brings us to a place of emotional intimacy with God that other liturgical acts might not do as consistently or even in the same way? I think there is and because music has such a nature to be a catalyst for intimacy that one of music's crucial roles is to aid in the redemption of our emotions and of course, nothing is redeemed without coming into the presence of God. Jeremy Begbie says this really well at the end of "Resounding Truth." He talks about emotions being a good, but even they need to be redeemed and they are in the incarnation. Some of the roles that music plays he says is "in educating, shaping and re-shaping us emotionally" in that it "voices what we do feel and perhaps what we could or should feel" (p.302). He argues, and I think he's right, that emotion can be appropriate or inappropriate, or in our case appropriate grief and inappropriate grief. Emotions themselves, such as grief, are good and created by God, but like the rest of creation stand in need of redemption and discipline. So to sum up, I'd say that music plays a crucial role in allowing us to mourn well because it brings us into the presence of God (i.e. worship) where there is hope.
Zwingli - Thanks for this. This is an excellent observation! Bells are something I just realized I haven't heard on a Sunday morning in years. It also made me remember a time when I was on a retreat at a place in WI a couple of years ago. One of the traditions of this place was that a bell rang periodically throughout the day and when it did, everyone was supposed to stop their activities and observe silence until it rang again. It was a great reminder that the Holy Spirit is always at work in the world.
Ahh... yes! my bad!
Zwingli - There's a specter of disembodied Cartesianism lurking in your ecclesiology. Ok, yes worship is the way of life for the christian, but that way of life is to be a communal way of life. Though I can get on board with certain "'expressions" of virtual community - this blog is certainly an example of that - but it should never replace a full-bodied encounter with other Christians. In Acts 2 they devoted themselves to the "Apostles teaching" but it was within the context of "fellowship and the breaking of bread and prayer" so I would disagree with you. We must privilege Scriptures read in a worship setting over mere bible study even if that study is done with others. Encountering God is more than study. It must be about prayer and communion as well and since I can't share a communion meal with you over the internet, we cannot claim this site or any website to ever be a full expression of church as the Body of Christ.
Tracy - Thanks for sharing that. I'm one that also believes that there is an 'entertainment' value to liturgy even though I would be hesitant to use that specific word. There is an aesthetic quality to a beautifully performed worship service that is compelling and draws one into worship. I become Anglican for similar reasons to your becoming Catholic. Zwingli - I see what you mean. I completely understand and agree that experienmenting with new forms of liturgy can be make someone self-conscious and be itself a barrier to worship. I've experienced this in both liturgical and non-liturgical Churches. It's why one of the major rules of worship leaders is not to change things to quickly or even just introduce too many new songs within a short time period. But as with anything, we can live into these changes and after awhile the new liturgical elements that were once foreign become part of the life of the church. These things are really that foreign because they are part of a long tradition that is living and progressing. I agree that liturgy and language are analogous. But here's where I want to push you. Worship in general just like language in general is something that is not foreign to humans. So even though there may be different expressions of worship, those expressions can be appropriated cross-denominationally. Just like language - people can learn and appropriate multiple languages fairly easily. Even if at first, the leaning of a language (and all the cultural aspects that go along with it) seems foreign and awkward at first. I once lived in Budapest, Hungary and as an American, the Hungarian language seems like the most foreign thing to me, but over time I was able to live into it (although I didn't stay long enough to become completely fluent). And I would say that really, unless you truly become part of the community and all that that community does, then however they worship is going to make someone self-conscious. In this sense, no matter whether it's a 'liturgical' or non-liturgical church or even a home bible study, there are always "house rules" that one has to learn as they are welcomed in. Also, I agree with your emphasis on the Scriptures and especially on reading them within a community. But I wonder if you would say that simple reading Scriptures apart from the worshipping context is enough? If all you're doing is reading the Scriptures apart from the prayer and table fellowship, and even singing, than what would be the difference between that and a classroom? I'm not sure about your scripture references either. Especially since we see Christians gathering on the first day of the week, the writer of Hebrews warns against "forsaking the assembly", Paul's epistles (with the exception of Philemon) were all writing to congregations, and the koinonia passages in Acts all suggest that what Christians do is gather together. So no, I don't think that "holding" worship services at special places is at all against the trajectory of the NT.
Zwingli - Before I post a few thoughts in response to your comment, will you do me a favor? Can you say a little more about what you mean about self-consciousness? I just want to make sure I'm hearing you correctly.
Michael - yes. those are great suggestions. thank you. tracy - I would say that yes is does make a difference depending on a communities view of the sacraments. How a community views especially the eucharist and baptism has direct effect on that community's liturgy, which in turn directly effects that community's understanding of reality in general. Schmemann's book is a great example of that. Notice how there is a direct correlation between how he understands the world as an "ephiphany" of God and his sacramental theology and his understanding of human subjectivity as a worshipping subject. Chad - You raise a great issue about "cherry picking" the liturgy. I do worry about that sometimes myself. There are theological reasons why the "passing of the peace" should come before the eucharist or why the creed is said in connection with the liturgy of the Word. But then again, one can fall very quickly into a liturgical hubris or even a legalism which can be dangerous. I hope to write about this in the future because I think that there is a tradition that is beautiful and can be progressed because it is a living tradition that needs room to breath, so to speak.
Ric - I would point you to "Meeting Mystery" by Nathan Mitchell. Probably the best place start and it's an altogether excellent work. Geoff - I know the Chauvet book, but have not read it yet. I placed it my cart after our conversation a week or so ago. Hopefully, I'll order it soon (the book budget is not what it used to be!) Sue and Geoff - I do think the questions are absolutely appropriate questions, and I admit ignorance as to the best way to answer them - if I did I'd write a book! Sue I can't answer what the exact nature of experience per se is. I would love to hear someone's else's take on that. I do hope that liturgy or even worship in general would be able to resist being one more commodity offered on the capitalist market, but we all know that it doesn't always. Too often churches, perhaps trying to "grow" or be "relevant" to the culture, stop being a gathering in which the Trinitarian God is encountered and instead become a 'dispenser of religion goods and services.' Perhaps this starts to get at the difference between liturgy and a spectacle (U2 concert - yeah!! or a strip club - boo!). I would have to locate the minimal difference, at least initially, in the object of the spectacle. Within a Christian liturgy we are coming before God and all of our participation (emotions, movements, thoughts, etc.) is directed toward some kind of encounter of God. At a concert or some other spectacle, the liturgical participation is usually not directed toward encountering God. Not that God can't be encountered at a U2 concert or that all aesthetic experience must necessarily be religious in nature or even is religious in nature - though I might debate that- but it does mean that Christians should be discerning about such matters. For example, I remember seeing Live in concert a couple years ago and during one of the songs that I was really into I found myself singing along with both hands raised - a posture that should be reserved for worship. I can guarantee that the band was not trying to create space for worshipping the Christian God. Also, the 'liturgy' of the strip club is intended to direct participation in something other than the Christian virtues. The word spectacle is a great word and of course makes me think of Tertuallian's writing entitle "Spectacle". Now he would be quick to say that Christians shouldn't even go see U2 in concert - I think he's wrong! But he does make the point that Christians should be discering about the object of the spectacle and realize that certain things don't direct us towards God or Christian virtue. He says it would be difficult at a place "where there is nothing of God, at that moment think of God". In strip club no one is going to think about sexual purity, monogamy, or the virtues of marriage. At a fight, no is going to think about peacemaking or loving one's enemy or turning the other cheek. So again, where is our attention being directed? My participation is going to bring me into contact with what? These are the questions that need to be asked, I think, when thinking about the difference. Yes, the liturgy does effect those who participate in them. Soon I hope to start a discussion about this based off of Aiden Kavanagh's claim in "On Liturgical Theology" that liturgy affect a "deep change" in the worshipping community even if the change is subtle and happens over time. Sue, you're question of 'who' - I'm thinking of a number of people. Within the emergent and reformed and evangelical camps, who want a deeper connextion with history or are just tired of the standard "non-liturgical" worship service (the 5 song set followed by the hour-long sermon). I'm also thinking about those who are well accustomed to 'high-church" liturgy and wondering if there is any merit left in it. Dan Kimball has raised the observation that just as many Christians are turing towards liturgy as there are who are discarding it. That's something I find interesting. That doesn't mean that these issues don't apply in broader perspective - I, for one, hope they do!