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Common Worship Tradition, Formation, Mission von Anderson, E. Byron (eBook)

  • Verlag: Foundry Books
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Common Worship

For many in our churches, and especially among both mainline and evan- gelical Protestants in North America, the answer to these questions is too o en a simple and straightforward no. Our age of specialization, of niche marketing, of in- dividual interests, of continued racial and economic segregation demands that we choose (but only if we really want to) speci c and singular locations, images and corporate logos, sounds and soundtracks. ere is little room today for common interest, common life, common belief, much less for common worship. We are not only 'bowling alone,' but increasingly worshiping alone-even when we are in a congregation gathered for worship. Why risk moving against these strong social forces? Why waste our time and energy seeking what the dominant voices of our culture say is no longer, if ever it was, possible?


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: none
    Seitenzahl: 200
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9780938162230
    Verlag: Foundry Books
    Größe: 701kBytes
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Common Worship

A t the heart of any conversation about liturgical theology are questions of tradition and traditioning. In some conversations, tradition sits quietly and confidently in the background; in others it is actively engaged by deconstruction and critique. In still others, as Methodist theologian David Butler observes about the Methodist churches, "merely to mention the word Tradition ... is to invite disbelief and ridicule." 1 All of these responses are inadequate; our current ecclesial context requires that we move from naive and critical approaches to theological and liturgical tradition to a more "post-critical" approach. Such an approach is what I am therefore seeking here. When we begin to talk about tradition, two problems immediately emerge before we can even think about the relationship between tradition and the contemporary: the confusion of tradition with traditional ism and a tradition of rejecting tradition. There are other questions, such as whose tradition and what tradition, 2 but even these must address the problems posed by traditionalism and the rejection of tradition. Traditionalism: Erik Erikson's work on human psycho-social development reminds us that all "isms"-in which he includes ritualism, legalism, moralism, and dogmatism-are signs of human dysfunction. 3 Though "traditionalism" tends to be no more than "the way we've always done it," which in reality is never more than two or three generations old, it is no less dysfunctional. As church historian Jaroslav Pelikan explains, "Tradition becomes an idol ... when it makes the preservation and repetition of the past an end in itself; it claims to have transcendent reality and truth captive and encapsulated in that past [i.e., locked in a museum case], and it requires an idolatrous submission to the authority of tradition, since truth would not dare appear outside it. Such was the conception of tradition against which [Luther and the reformers] protested." 4 Where Pelikan names the dysfunction, J. Robert Nelson describes its process: traditionalism is "the easy acquiescence to patterns of belief and practice which were fashioned with effort and imagination by our [forebears] under particular historical circumstances, and then frozen for future generations to appropriate in a manner not only anachronistic but injurious to the work of the Church in the present world." 5 No matter how we define it, traditional ism -an idol frozen in time-is problematic. Rejecting Tradition: In recent years, a counterpart "ism" has emerged, especially in the conversation about worship. We might awkwardly call it "anti-traditionism." The antagonism it expresses is not only to the "traditional" but to the concept of "tradition" itself. "Anti-traditionism" is, in many ways, a distinctively postmodern problem. It is a tradition of rejecting tradition, a fixation on the contemporary that makes newness and rejection of the past an end in itself. In our postmodern context, as Edward Shils observes, "the acknowledged normative power of a past practice, arrangement, or belief has become very faint, indeed, it is almost extinguished as an intellectual argument. Correspondingly, the traditionality of a belief, practice, or arrangement offers little resistance to arguments which proceed on the presumption of the efficiency, rationality, expediency, 'up-to-dateness', or progressiveness of their preferred alternatives." 6 Caught in a web of efficiency and expediency, trying to meet the needs of the postmodern, decentered, multiple self, the church and the consultants who have captured its attention have so emphasized the need for freedom from the perceived "contamination" and "encumbrance of accumulated knowledge, norms, and ideals handed down by previous generations" 7 that we have made a tradition of "anti-traditionism" masquerading as "the contemporar

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