Posted by: Dan | July 11, 2005

Worship as Subversive Story-Telling

Willimon, Copenhaver, and Robinson argue that worship is an activity that a community engages in, in order to centre itself within the narrative that it seeks to proclaim. Worship is a way for a community to gather and remind itself of its identity, what it believes, and what it hopes for. Thus a church that is bombarded over the week by the narratives told by liberal democracies, free-market capitalism, and “military consumerism,” can gather once a week and be reminded of the uniquely Christian story — and remember what it means to live within that story.**

However, when this element of worship is understood, it becomes easier to understand how worship can be an activity that Christians (and others) engage in, in every thing that they do. All communities are telling stories. Corporations tell a particular story, about a particular kind of world to their employees and costumers, nation-states also tell another kind of story to citizens who live within, and outside of, their borders. The challenge is therefore to live in a counter-cultural and subversive manner, to engage with those communities but not participate in the stories that they tell. Living the Christian story in the midst of nations that tell stories premised on fear, consumption, force, and hopelessness, will be a subversive activity, and will also be an act of worship.

This also means that the extent to which Christians participate in the stories told by other communities — whether that be Wal-Mart's story, America's story, or whatever — is the extent to which Christians engage in the worship of other gods.
_______________________
*This thought it not unique to these three pastors; they draw heavily from the writings of Hauerwas, Brueggemann, and Lindbeck; cf. Good News in Exile.
**The term “military consumerism” belongs to Brueggemann who argues that, contrary to the West's claim to exist within a genuinely peaceful, diversive, and pluralitistic culture, certain metanarratives still exist and drive society. Military Consumerism is the term that Brueggemann gives to the(?) metanarrative that drives America; cf. Theology of the Old Testament.

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