This is a fascinating commentary about the disconnect between traditional religion and those in the community who are post-modern and post-religious, as it finds itself played out in religious rituals.
I think within my own tradition that this conversation plays out [one side of it, anyway] with infant baptism. The church often makes judgements about why people outside the church want to baptise their children – often assuming it’s because of nostalgia or because of family / society pressure. While that assumption may sometimes be right, I think that often there’s a much deeper longing or motivation, which is not done justice by the alternative offer of a thanksgiving or dedication – the desire for ritual is more mysterious, more ‘beyond’ than these. Even if this is not the meaning the church invests the sacrament with, the baptismal water means something to people, it matters to them that they are participating in an act that’s echoed through history.
The question alluded to in the article is whether the church can offer its rituals as a gift, not as a transaction [where participation is welcomed in return for right meaning], or whether the ritual only holds integrity when it’s grounded and held within the tradition’s meaning… The question for me is if there is no space within the church’s rituals for an alternative investment of meaning [and i’m not saying there should be], how do those of us who know how to make ritual happen help new rituals form that those who aren’t part of the church’s faith can participate in; that will make real the same connection with humankind through history, and with a mystery that is beyond our articulation and reason. Will the church let us borrow theirs and reshape them? Must bread and wine always and only tell the church’s story of communion?
and i wonder if, at its essence, this all comes back to the tables we find ourselves sitting at…