Black Sacred Music: A Soundtrack of Refuge

This month is Black Music Month among other designations. As I write, today is World Refugee Day, named so by the United Nations. I am fortunate enough to hdonald Lawrenceave been raised in an environment where every day was a celebration of Black music and Black sacred music especially held a prominent place in community. Black sacred music is an art form and worship expression born as a prophetic critique of the oppressive Christianity of the North American slavocracy. It is the musical counter-hegemonic process by which Black people redefined biblical events and their present realities, envisioning and revising their existence in terms of radical freedom. Perhaps more than ever Black sacred music should be lifted in the mainstream of our theological conversations and liturgical experiences as The Church wrestles with ways to speak truth to power and be prophetic witness in the face of global Fascism. If the intention of the liturgy is to manifest the presence of God in an assembly, a merciful presence is not just meant for the particular assembly but for the world (Lathrup 1998).

Black sacred music exists because there is no strict line of demarcation between existential weariness of a disenfranchised people and the sacred disciplines of prayer, worship, and service to humanity (III 2015). The sensibilities of the Spirituals (the first form of Black sacred music) should be considered to constitute the normative elements of Black sacred music. These sensibilities include the prophetic functions of naming the oppressive reality and exhorting resistance to it, as well as an eschatological expectation of justice in this world (Hendricks 2011). Unfortunately, much of what is produced by Black people in our present market driven and consumer reality neglects as its focus on these basic foundations of Black sacred music. The present genre has been over taken by the evangelical narrative that sees the end goal of liturgical music as either retelling and glorifying the story of the cross, compelling listeners to affirm faith in Jesus and therefore be saved from hell, or singing about how splendid God is. The music of the Black church more than ever bears the influence of the theology of dominate culture. The prosperity gospel most identified with the Word of Faith movement and its leaders like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland has taken over (Heilbut 2012).   A real conversation must be convoked to reexamine the production and purpose of Black sacred music in our current sociopolitical climate.

Yvette FlunderAt its worst this new breed of Black sacred music is all motivated by the ultimate goal of record sales and profit margins.  The thin writing seems to have abandoned the normative elements of Black sacred music which posture the gospel of Jesus not as a rational concept to be explained in a theory of salvation, rather as a story about God’s presence in Jesus’ solidarity with the oppressed, which led to a government sanctioned execution on a cross (Cone 2011).  Authentic Black sacred music expresses collective acknowledgement of oppression, prophetic critique of the race-based system and sensibilities that produce and perpetuate that oppression, exhortation to resist the political, social, and political importunities of that systematic oppression, while simultaneously offering comfort and empathy in its midst.  The problem with the commodification of modern Black sacred music is not that it is profitable, rather that it is profit driven and this is most unprofitable to the Church because it lacks integrity and rich prophetic tradition (Hendricks 2011).

As the United States has a long history of tearing apart families of those on the underside of power and dismissing the humanity of both parent and child, perhaps we can return to making authentic Black sacred music? Perhaps churches of the dominate culture can look to the lyrics and musicality of said music to guide them toward dialogue of resistance and actions of repentance? Careful not to be guilty of cultural appropriation by short sighted performance of music not authentic to their own experience, these churches may find in the tradition of Black sacred music the courage to be honest about their role in oppression of all minoritized communities.  As we wrestle through the realities of our present immigration conversations and the unethical treatment of humans based in xenophobia and unholy nationalism, authentic Black sacred music provides for us the narrative of a people who refused to allow religion to be hijacked by hate, and dared to find a path to forward toward full humanity in the face of the worse abandonment of humanity on the part of those with privilege and power.

 

Peace Is Possible,

+Donalson

 

Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III, DMin | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor 

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND MINISTRY | SEATTLE UNIVERSITY

 

Works Cited

Cone, James H. 2011. The Cross and The Lynching Tree. MaryKnoll: Orbis.

Heilbut, Anthony. 2012. The Fan WHo Knew Too Much. New York: Alfred A Knopf.

Hendricks, Obery. 2011. The Universe Bends Toward Justice . Maryknoll: Orbis Books.

III, Otis Moss. 2015. Blue Note Preaching in a Post- Soul World. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

Lathrup, Gordon W. 1998. Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

 

 

 

Worship & Liturgy Announcements

A Liturgical Response to Suicide

flowersSuicide is always a very difficult reality. Families and community in the wake of loss must deal with shock, questions, and often guilt. Last week the entire nation paused in shock as we learned of two celebrities for whom suicide is a reality. For religious communities, the issue is often more complicated than nonreligious communities based on interpretations of sacred texts. Depending on the eschatology of a particular community the grief and loss can be compounded by thoughts of eternal torture. For the liturgist, we must wrestle with questions about the funeral or memorial of all members of the community, but there are occasions such as suicide where this wrestling can be more sensitive than others. Suicide shakes communities because it is a human phenomenon and each human at their core recognizes the nearness of their own mortality when confronted with the reality that one can terminate one’s own life. The truth is, nothing human is foreign to us because we carry within ourselves all of humanity; that, in spite of the fact that that there are no two individuals the same, the paradox exists that we all share common substance. Nothing that exist in any human being does not exist within myself (Fromm 2005). Collectively, we seek to escape the truth that life as we know it ends. Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last time (Baldwin 1993). Much of what is alarming for communities is related to our need for emotional safety and stability.

In my experience as a Pastor and Bishop, all religious practice seeks to provide a way for communities to name their experience and to live in response to it (Allen 2008). Funerals and memorials are no different. They are rituals which try to make sense of our existence that we share with our community; they also answer our need to express devotion to dominant values (Fromm, Psychoanalysis & Religion 1950). This is where they can get difficult to navigate; what particular common values should be lifted in this moment of corporate crisis?  It is the funeraltask of the liturgist to determine the dominant theme and overall tone of this final ceremony that recognizes the life of the individual and that life’s impact on the collective. Death is one certainty in every life, the one inevitable event. But every death is unique and has different impact on individuals, families, and communities. We must never pretend that it is unimportant or underestimate the effects of how a person dies on those who remain, but we must also remember that death no matter how it comes, is common to us all (Chapman 1999). With that in mind the liturgy must bare all the dignity and respect human transition deserves and hold special care for those who mourn in this particular way.

While the skillful liturgist must be aware of and attentive to communal values, the funeral or memorial is no time to flesh out doctrinal and theological debates. The texts chosen should be ones which offer comfort and support to those grieving and the eulogist should craft an oration that focuses the community on those things which are common to the shared human experience. Central to the service should be the love and the care of those dealing with grief and loss. Never should these moments be taken to invoke fear, for that would be the most egregious form emotional abuse and spiritual manipulation. There is a way to lift up the values of the community and even its theological claims without victimizing those already traumatized by grief and loss. To do otherwise is to operate with unmitigated arrogance and cruelty.

The responsible liturgist must ask themselves the point and purpose of funeral. What are my ethical duties to the community?  Is this liturgy socially responsible?  Have we with dignity responded to this liturgical opportunity? Who will benefit for our community experience today?

There are many more questions to wrestle through as one prepares the liturgy for this occasion. Feel free to comment below your thoughts and experiences.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please know that there is help for you. Please call 1-800-273-8255

 

 

Peace Is Possible,

 

Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III, DMin | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor 

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND MINISTRY | SEATTLE UNIVERSITY

 

Works Cited

Allen, Ronald J. 2008. Thinking Theologically: The Preacher as Theologian. Minneapolis: Frotress Press.

Baldwin, James. 1993. The Fire Next Time. New York: Vintage International .

Chapman, Raymond. 1999. A Pastoral Prayer Book: Occasional Prayers for times of Change, Concern, and Cekebration. Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing.

Fromm, Erich. 2005. On Being Human. New York: Continuum .

—. 1950. Psychoanalysis & Religion. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

 

Worship & Liturgy Announcements

Father’s Day and Masculine Spirituality

IMG_5389In two weeks, we will celebrate Father’s Day. A holiday that is often dwarfed in American culture by its counterpart Mother’s Day. In fact, for some single mothers Father’s Day has become Mother’s Day part two, where it is not only a day for them to acknowledge the roles they play in their children’s lives, but to highlight and feature where they feel there is a failure on the part of the father. Sexist thinking engages the ideologies that the role of fathers in parenting is not as important as mothers or that the physical absence of the father is the sole determinate in the success of children. Both views are unhealthy, false narratives that damage the souls of men and women equally.

What would happen this year if Father’s Day could open a dialogue about masculine spirituality? How could we as religious communities combat the toxic hyper -masculinity that underpins the imperialist white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy that serve as the foundation of our nations politics?  What message would this send to the highest office of the land if this Father’s Day religious institutions across the nation would proclaim that patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation? No male successfully measures up to patriarchal standards without engaging in an ongoing practice of self-betrayal (hooks, The Will to Change: Men. Masculinity, and Love 2004). We would hardly have time to proclaim the disastrous effects of these interlocking systems of oppression on women.

IMG_2430Masculinity does not have any single meaning, except that it is put in dialogue with an “other” and the way in which it is perceived by someone in at a given moment in a given space (Reeser 2010).  What is true about masculinity is that it can be considered a dialogue over a period of time between perceiver and perceived. We must acknowledge that masculinity is largely constructed by implicit social meanings that come to be accepted as truths about how males are supposed to think, behave, or function (Hopson 2013). Masculine spirituality is for those men who take seriously the opportunity for their own liberation from gender stereotypes and have in the process begun to seek anew a more sensitive self-understanding in light of the feminist critique. This sensitivity is an awareness of the full range of human emotions, comfort with one’s own body, the ability to relate in linear and circular ways, showing no fear of women and demonstrating ability to work with them as equal partners (James 1996). Masculine spirituality asks men to exist as co-creators with women, in healthy relationships with the rest of creation.

Father’s Day celebrations in religious institutions may prove to be an opportunity to talk about a new way of loving maleness. This is different from praising maleness and rewarding males for living up to sexist-defined notions of male identity (hooks, The Will to Change: Men. Masculinity, and Love 2004). Loving maleness is caring about males for simply being. It is extending our love, whether or not men and boys are performing.  It changes the patriarchal narrative of performance to a spiritual narrative of ontology. What if men were affirmed in our liturgies for simply being? Whether or not you are performing your role and function in light of patriarchy, you are valued because you are. If we take the opportunity to give this message, perhaps men would begin to define themselves in ways which allowed all of society to escape the tyranny of patriarchy.

Masculinity need not be equated with sexist notions of manhood and Father’s Day need not reify the social script of toxic hyper-masculinity. Religious institutions can lead the way in interrogating patriarchal masculinity to see the ways it has been and is destructive to males if we chose to use our liturgies to focus on repudiating this masculinity and redefining masculinity in terms that would be more life affirming. We might actually use our homily to say that reliance on a single male authority figure is dangerous because it creates a climate of autocracy where the politics of coercion (and that includes violence) are used to maintain that authority (hooks, The Will to Change: Men. Masculinity, and Love 2004).  This Father’s Day let us use our pulpits to speak to functional, healthy masculinities, where men are encouraged to pursue their highest self and in so doing serve the world from a place of wholeness.

 

Feel free to comment below.

 

Peace Is Possible,

+Donalson

 

Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III, DMin | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor 

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND MINISTRY | SEATTLE UNIVERSITY

 

Works Cited

hooks, bell. 1995. Killing Rage:Ending Racism. New York : Henry Holt and Company.

—. 2004. The Will to Change: Men. Masculinity, and Love. New York: Washington Square Press.

Hopson, Ronald L. Jackson and Mark C., ed. 2013. Masculinity in the Black Imagination: Politics of Communicatimg Race and MAnhood. New York: Peter Lang.

James, David C. 1996. What Are They Saying About Masculine Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press.

Reeser, Todd W. 2010. Masculinites in Theory: An Introduction. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

 

 

Worship & Liturgy Announcements

The Religion of The NFL

Related imageThe word religion comes from a root word that means “to bind together.” Thus, the word actually refers to a sense of unity, oneness wholeness (Butterworth 2001). In this sense, the NFL has become a religion to millions of people around the world. Maybe it is right to say that sports in general have become a sort of religious practice. In my opinion, it is a religion based on consumerism and capitalist greed and the adherents of this religious practice are those who seek to escape the reality of daily living in the ecstasy of entertainment based on worship of the human body.

The average official liturgy of the NFL, better known as game time, is approximately three hours during which the ball is actually in motion only about 11 minutes.  The NFL does not release its annual financial data, but one NFL team is a public entity: the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are the best barometer for team-by-team revenue because their financial reports must be made public. In 2013 the Packers earned $187.7 million in national revenue, which consists of its portion of NFL national television contracts, sponsorships and a portion of jersey and ticket sales—split between all the NFL teams. (The Packers had total revenue of $324 million in 2013, including local revenue sources, like increased seating and ticket sales at Lambeau Field.) If you multiply the Packers’ national revenue by 32 (the total number of teams in the NFL), it comes out to a little more than $6 billion (Ejiochi 2014). This is hardly an offering to be ignored.

In 2013, about one-third of NFL players were white, and two-thirds were African-American.chalabi-sports-diversity-nfl

Recently the NFL Bishops, or owners, has ruled that it’s clergy, I mean players, cannot kneel in protest of police brutality of Black and Brown bodies, but can stay in the locker room until after the opening hymn, better known as the National Anthem. Many would say that this is white policing of Black and Brown bodies in the grand tradition of the American experiment. Some would even offer that the religion of the NFL is nothing more than a celebration of white gaze and the objectification of Blackness.

I would submit that the NFL is a corrupt authoritarian religion. It is so because it is based on the recognition on the part of its adherents of some higher unseen power (owners) as having control of the destiny of clergy and laity (players and fans), and as being entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship. In fact, one can always see the degree to which a religion is corrupt and its rituals irrational by the degree of fear produced by its violation in any manner (Fromm 1950).

It is my theological assessment that the NFL is performing in the world as an inhumane religion, not just because its rituals require the sacrifice of the bodies of its clergy, but because it is diametrically opposed to humanism and human flourishing.  By humanism I refer to a global philosophy which emphasizes the oneness of the human race, the capacity of man to develop his own powers and to arrive at inner harmony and the establishment of a better world (E. Fromm 1966). This is a humanism rooted in the Christian concept of Imago Dei, or the understanding that humankind is made in the image of the Divine. For me the NFL seems to be a religion rooted in evil. Evil such as racism is carried partly through the violence and evil of individuals. But it is possible as an institutional and historical reality because it is mediated by language, culture, economic, and social policies: by a thousand almost invisible structures and powers that perpetuate prejudice and its debilitating effects (Farley 1990).

All marginal groups in this society who suffer grave injustices, who are victimized by institutionalized systems of domination (race, class, gender, etc.) are faced with the peculiar dilemma of developing strategies that draw attention to one’s plight in such a way that will merit regard and consideration without reinscribing a paradigm of victimization (hooks 1995). The NFL clergy (players) were and are a voice to draw attention to the plight of those on the underside of power, what does it say about the Bishops (owners) of the NFL that they would refuse to stand in solidarity with those who attempt to do good in world?

Consider this week what your religious expression is doing to stand with those on the underside of power?  How are you personally complicit in systemic evil? How will you engage the NFL in light of its moral choices?

Feel free to comment below.

Peace is Possible,

+Donalson

Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III, DMin | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor 

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND MINISTRY | SEATTLE UNIVERSITY

 

Works Cited

Butterworth, Eric. 2001. Spiritual Economics. Unity Villege: Unity Books .

Ejiochi, Ike. 2014. cnbc.com. September 4th. Accessed May 29th, 2018. http://www.cnbc.com/2014/09/04/how-the-nfl-makes-the-most-money-of-any-pro-sport.html.

Farley, Wendy. 1990. Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion A Contemporary Theodicy. Louisville : Westminster John Knox Press.

Fromm, Eric. 1966. You Shall Be As Gods: A RAdical Interpretation of the Old Testament and its Tradition. New York: Fawcett Primier .

Fromm, Erich. 1950. Psychoanalysis & Religion. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

hooks, bell. 1995. Killing Rage:Ending Racism. New York : Henry Holt and Company.

Faculty Reflections Worship & Liturgy Announcements

The Courage of Bishop Curry: A Paradigm of Preaching

Bishop CurryIt seems that the world is a buzz with preaching fever. This weekend Bishop Michael Curry the Presiding Prelate and Primate of the Episcopal Church stood and captured the world’s attention for thirteen minutes as he delivered the Homily at the Royal Wedding. After the singing of the choir he did what centuries of preachers before him have done and boldly proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a waiting congregation. What made this occasion so captivating was not just the grandeur of royal customs nor the Bishop’s Black embodiment. What has the world completely enraptured was the power of the message and the courage of the messenger. The Bishop Curry dared to show up authentically and invoke the prophetic preaching tradition of the historic Black Church.

The Black Church, like the communities it represents, is not a monolith. Just as there are multiple ways of constructing Blackness, there are multiple ways of being the Black Church (Touré 2011).  It is true that Bishop Curry presides over a church mostly made up of the dominant culture, however he has brought to his role the sensibilities connected to the Black preaching tradition. Preaching in itself is a liturgical act, a ritual the exercise of communal speech and Michael Curry brought the royal wedding the liberation speech of the community that gave him entrance into the world (Lathrup 1998). He showed up authentically. Black preaching belongs to a discursive formation of resistance. This resistance discourse denotes terms, phrases, figures of speech, concepts, poetry, and songs that are common to a group of subjugated persons, all of which calling them to resist in some way the oppression to which they are subjugated (Hendricks 2011). As he repeatedly lifted up the voice of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the lyrics of Spirituals right in the heart of Imperialist white supremacist heteropatriarchy Bishop Curry engaged both head and heart in an exercise of speaking truth to power.

 

Bishop CurryStanding on the continent which gave us such theologians as Bultmann, Bart, and Bonhoeffer, Bishop Curry reminded us that Christian theology is language about God’s liberating activity in the world on behalf of the freedom of the oppressed. As James Cone taught us, any talk about God that fails to make God’s liberation of the oppressed it’s starting point is not Christian (Cone 1999). Curry maximized the platform that time and chance graced to him, because he was prepared to be an oracle of truth. That preparation was not solely academic, however that part of preparation bares a large portion of responsibility, but a spiritual preparation that resist the global urge toward commercializing and commodifying every moment.  This is the preaching that comes from a pastoral heart of one who does not see them self as a CEO, rather a loving Shepard. In a time where religious cowardice is running rampant and preaching has been tainted by the tendency toward celebrity, Michael Curry delivered the heart of the Gospel with clarity and passion avoiding the obscene moral emptiness of modern preaching.

Prophetic preaching seeks to paint a new world with the toolkit of oral performance, imagination, and ken intellectual investigation so that the hearer is left with a picture of a preferable future (III 2015).  European and American preaching alike have a complex history of failing miserably to speak to the moral bankruptcy built into the systems of empire, however there is also a tradition for which the call to repentance is a core element. The homily at the Royal Wedding finds the true task of preaching to insist upon both this worldly liberation and otherworldly salvation as the proper loci for Christianity. Bishop Curry shows in his message that he understands to prophesy is not to predict an outcome, but rather to identify concrete evils. To prophesy deliverance is not to call for some otherworldly paradise, but to generate enough faith, hope, and love to sustain the human possibility for more freedom (West 2002).

As we begin our preparation for our next preaching assignments may we take seriously the paradigm offered to us by the excellent preaching of Bishop Curry. May we be aware that preaching makes available to the hearer the old things of the text and ritual as images and words that speak the truth of our world, our lives, and our deaths, our alienation and our need, more deeply than had occurred to them before (Lathrup 1998). Let’s ask ourselves if we have called people out of the complicity with evil and into an active resistance? Have we shown up as our authentic selves knowing that what comes from the heart reaches the heart? Have we been faithful to our vocation as we engage the prognostication of the Gospel?  In short is our preaching worth hearing?

Please feel free to comment below:

Peace Is Possible,

+Donalson

Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III, DMin | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor
SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND MINISTRY | SEATTLE UNIVERSITY

 

Works Cited

Cone, James H. 1999. Speaking The Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation, and Black Theology. Maryknoll: Orbis .

Hendricks, Obery. 2011. The Universe Bends Toward Justice . Maryknoll: Orbis Books.

III, Otis Moss. 2015. Blue Note Preaching in a post- Soul World. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

Lathrup, Gordon W. 1998. Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Touré. 2011. Who’s Afraid of Post Blackness: What it Means to be Black Now. New York: Free press.

West, Cornel. 2002. Prophesy Deliverance: An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity . Louiseville: John Knox Press.

Worship & Liturgy Announcements

The Televangelism Effect

Televangelism 2In a cultural moment when everything seems to be commodified and utilitarian the conversation about the role of religion has taken on a different tone than at other points in history.  Within ever widening Christian circles religious broadcasting has centered three distinct elements as core to any conversation about liturgy and worship. Those three elements being that liturgy has become increasingly personality driven, crowd dependent, and entertainment oriented (Walton 2009). Regardless of ecclesiastical, theological, or political perspectives of individual churches the impact of mass media and multimedia realities has reformed the way leaders engage the life of the church. These three elements that now ground our conversations and realities mean a new ethos has become normalized within many institutions. This ethos of commodification means that religion is not primarily concerned with being profitable, rather the focus for far too many is that religion has become profit driven! Ritual, broadly speaking, is a shared action expressive of common strivings rooted in common values (Fromm, Psychoanalysis & Religion 1950).  By this definition the rituals of the church have been hijacked and perverted by leaders who are using the church and her liturgies for fame rather than to spread the message of liberation found in the teachings of Jesus.

Culture is not simply an intruding power that one has to resist. It is a space in which one lives, the air one breathes (Volf 2011). Unfortunately, in too many instances, the church has forgotten it is a countercultural organism. Intoxicated with the unfiltered air of the present culture, the church is failing in its responsibility to speak out against the pollutants of culture which fight against humanity’s highest collective and individual self.   Without the ability to offer (and be) a cultural critique, the church has slipped into an insanity of sorts. Whenever one loses the capacity to perceive actuality, one has succumbed to dangerous mental health challenges. The psychotic person builds up an inner world of reality in which they seem to have full confidence. Living in their own world, common factors of reality as perceived by others are unreal to them (Fromm 1947). In this way, the church has become insane, having lost the ability to see the factors that have caused the church to take on the identity of the culture around her.Televangelism

The primary function of our spiritual gatherings is not personality-driven entertainment, designed to captivate crowds who are then motivated to feed the machine of the material success of that central personality. The primary task of our spiritual gatherings is to present people with truths which are their own reason and enjoin practices that are their own justification (Buell 2006). That is to say, we gather together to assist people in producing wholeness, through principles that are themselves whole. We speak that which is virtuous and leads to virtue. Any spirituality, especially that which is organized religion, liberal or conservative, must be not only emotionally satisfying, but intellectually credible, and morally worthy of respect (Maslow 1978).

While it is true that a viable religion is one that has a working reciprocity with the culture that produces it or with which it interacts, the culture alone cannot dictate the content, intent, or direction of the rituals of that religion (Townes 1995). The church must return to its task of probing the message of Jesus in meaningful ways that become life-giving rituals to the faithful and the questioning alike.  This may mean that the future church is less centered on personality, less entertainment oriented, and less crowd dependent.  It may call for the church to hold the tension between its role as countercultural and contextual. We may have to look at a less hierarchical structure while figuring out how to honor ancient ecclesial roles simultaneously.  Whatever it will mean, it is certain that we need to rethink the way we show up in the age of mass media!

Ask yourself, what are the countercultural elements of worship in your church that need to be magnified? How do you see the interaction of church and media, and its impact on worship? In what ways have your local church disremembered its call?

 

Feel free to comment below.

 

Peace Is Possible,

+Donalson

Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III, DMin | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor 

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND MINISTRY | SEATTLE UNIVERSITY

 

Works Cited

Buell, Lawrence, ed. 2006. The American Transcendentalists: Essential Writings. New York: The Modern Library .

Fromm, Erich. 1947. Man for Himself : AN Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics. New York: Holt Paperbacks.

—. 1950. Psychoanalysis & Religion. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Maslow, Abraham H. 1978. Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. New York: Pengiun Books.

Townes, Emilie M. 1995. In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spiriutality As Social Witness. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Volf, Miroslav. 2011. A Public Faith. Grand Rapids: BrazosPress.

Walton, Jonathan L. 2009. Watch This! The Ethics and asthetics of Black Televangelism. NewYork: New York University Press.

 

Worship & Liturgy Announcements

Community

Fundamental to our humanity is the deep longing to belong and to be celebrated. There is within our core the desire to be loved, and to reflect that love back in authenticity.  We are hardwired to need vulnerability even though we live in a world that makes togethervulnerability an unpopular and many

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

times unsafe experience. At the depths of our soul we are communal beings and without faithful community it is impossible to be our highest selves. It is in community our commitments are made stronger, our doubts are soothed, we are validated, our intentions are confirmed, and our memories are more real (Flunder 2005).

Sitting on the plane after spending the weekend with six of the most amazing men preparing to usher our brother into marriage we began to rehearse the events of our excursion. The plane was filled with laughter and joy as we recounted the experiences of our time together, using names that could only be understood in context of the moments that gave birth to them.  Walking off the plan to the sounds of music that had become the soundtrack of our weekend I realized that if everyone could feel the feeling I was experiencing it would revolutionize the world. In a few short days my particularities as a Black, male, professional, and all the other things that make up my identity had been affirmed by the collective. Those intangibles I needed to feel supported and seen in the world and in my work, had been gifted to me by the experience of being with.  I knew in that moment that the weekend had been a sacred religious moment of transcendence that was nothing short of Liturgy. This was a liturgy born of true spirituality and nurtured by community.  In this particular case, it was a masculine spirituality giving birth to the liturgy and ritual known as a “Bachelor party weekend”.  Masculine spirituality among these brothers was a vision that seeks to explore and incarnate. It is not concerned with living in a world without women or with women as subordinates, rather it wants men to exist as co-creators with women in healthy relationships. It imagines a world where men and woman and indeed nonbinary siblings are experiencing their own fullness, vitality, and vision (James 1996).

 

What if we take seriously as liturgical theologians that Liturgy is first and foremost the work of the people? Church – in the Christian tradition –   in its most basic and constitutive sense refers to communal gathering around text, meal, and washing as these are interpreted as having to do with the person and work of Jesus (Lathrup 1998).  Let us not forget the church’s task is to assist its people in plumbing the depths of their own humanity, where transcendence, mystery, being, and even love are discovered, and to bring those qualities found in the center of life into the world (Spong 1998). Community is the birth place of liturgy, it is where we ritualize our common beliefs, passions, goals, and relationships.  Without understanding our community our liturgies become vain oblations to an unknown God.  They lose the functional integrity necessary to be relevant. People stop engaging liturgy when the liturgy fails to be in service of and a product of authentic community. The influential philosopher Josiah Royce spoke of Beloved community as a perfectly joined lived unity of individual men [sic] joined in one divine chorus and that is the birth place of liturgy (Marsh 2005).cry for help 1048377

Ritual is an integral part of life. It provides actions and forms through which people meet, carry out social activities, celebrate, and commemorate. Rituals born from community become the glue that holds our hum

 

anity in mutual responsibility and accountability. Liturgy is ritual which addresses the urge to comprehend human existence; the search for marked pathways as one moves from one stage of life to the next; and the longing to know one’s part in the vast wonder and mystery of the cosmos (S.J. 2002).  This week I invite you to ask yourself what is the ethos of your community? How is your community expressed in the liturgy? What is missing from the liturgy that your community needs? How do you as a theologian define community and what role does that definition play in the way do your work?

Feel free to comment below!

 

Peace Is Possible,

+Donalson

 

Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III, DMin | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor 

 

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND MINISTRY | SEATTLE UNIVERSITY

 

 

Flunder, Yvette A. 2005. Where The Edge Gathers: Building a Community of Radical Inclusion. Cleveland: The Pilgram Press.

James, David C. 1996. What Are They Saying About Masculine Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press.

Lathrup, Gordon W. 1998. Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Marsh, Charles. 2005. The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice From the Civil Rights Movement to Today. New York: Basic Books .

S.J., James L. Empereur. 2002. Spiritual Direction and the Gay Person. New York: Continuum.

Spong, John Shelby. 1998. Why Christianity Must Change or Die. New York: Harper Collins.

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