Friday, March 27, 2009

Cake Clouds Birthday

Here's Chuck Colson, in the current CT, with an important reminder:
Since our doctrines are truth claims, they cannot be mere symbolism. This is important to remember as we celebrate the Resurrection, which is often clouded by the pageantry of Easter.
While I couldn't agree more about doctrine, I'm moved to ask how the surviving head of Evangelicals and Catholics Together can still go on saying that pageantry "clouds" doctrine. How about "elucidates" or "amplifies"? There are few better than Thomas Howard to explain the alternative (in fact, the normative) "both/and" approach:
Certainly words constitute the articulating par excellence of that which is true... [Yet] we humans, as opposed to the dogs and the crows, will mark our awareness of significance in a visible, external, and concrete way. And, more than this our marking of significance seems to take on a formal - even a ritual and ceremonial - shape. That is, rather than simply leaving things with spontaneous exclamations of joy and congratulation, we all reach for the ritual (that is, precast text) of "Happy Birthday to You!" Somehow, oddly, this hackneyed and not especially impressive ditty, precisely because it is traditional, takes up our interior responses to the event, gives them an external shape, and thereby satisfies something in us that springs from the deepest mysteries of our humanness.

It is we who do this, and we suspect that the oddity belongs to our humanity itself. We are ritual creatures. We are ceremonial creatures. We give concrete shape to that which wells up in our innermost being... This oddity, of words finding embodiment in gesture and concrete form, is not simply convenient: it is inevitable. (26, 23, 25).
Suggested discussion topic for the next ECT meeting: Liturgy.