Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ritualizing doubt/sorrow/lament/...

Last night Peter Rollins visited GR, as part of The (mostly) East Coast leg of the Insurrection Pub Tour. Pete & friends promised an evening of "incendiary theology" and "haunting soundscapes", among other things--and yes, they did deliver. The visuals, the music, the ideas all melded powerfully to create an event with profound impact. Flowing from story to techno beat to acoustic poetry, the genius of the performance was that it reached a very broad audience on a profoundy personal level. A poem may have connected for one person, while a parable later in the evening might have "clicked" for another.

For me, the concept with which I walked away (to wrestle) was the challenge to incorporate the darker sides of faith into our everyday practices. While I tend to be a pretty upbeat type, I've also faced my share of darkness. And figuring out how those elements harmonize in the context of faith has been a real sticking point for me. I can often do one--or the other--but learning to hold the two in tension has been an ongoing challenge. So last night's charge to bring the darkness into our experience of faith came both as liberating permission and as confounding head-scratcher.

The specific terminology that struck me was that of "ritualizing sorrow" or "doubt" or "suffering". Certainly the term "ritual" carries its fair share of negative connotations. But for my purposes here, I'll try to polish it up a bit and use it to mean an intentional, consistent practice that is designed with a specific objective in mind. In this context, that purpose is simply to shape my life in relation to God.

I'm intrigued with the idea of bringing this level of intentionality --ritualization--to my experience and understanding of the interplay of God & suffering.


  1. I'm envious of your evening! I'll have to see if he's heading out to Colorado any time soon.

    Although I'm a pretty serious person overall, I also struggle holding such things as doubt and sorrow in a healthy tension in my faith practices. In fact, I generally feel guilty for giving weight to my doubts and sorrows, knowing they are minimal in comparison to what other have faced.

    I like your perspective of approaching it as an intentional practice. I'll having to think on what that would look like for me. Thanks for sharing, Lori!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Amy. I'm still thinking about this...will post more about specifics as inspiration strikes...
    I'd be interested to hear ways in which some of the churches you visit might be practicing this. Not many do, I know--but there might be some welcome surprises!

  3. Might you identify the piece of sculpture and its creator/artist?