Activism · community

‘Narratives of Pain and Possibility.’

I got this from a podcast – Common Good.
An episode with Walter Brueggemann. A conversation based on an article that he wrote called ‘Not Numbed Inside’

I’ll just pick out a couple of things from the conversation.

The conversation started with thoughts on the power of compassion as seen most clearly in mother love, and how that compassion can make a difference – beyond the personal transformation of our lives to working with others to bring about change.
In Walter’s words: “How to go beyond energising our own individual innards, to activate the innards of a society based on individualism and greed ?”

Walter sees two components – one is Liturgy – “action that binds us into a common imagination.”
And the other component is Organise. “Organise, organise, organise.”

“The symbiotic relationship between liturgy and organising is the work that has to be done if we are to mobilise social power and not just well meaning individuals. The movements of Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement are examples of exactly that kind of excercise, that are capable of getting people’s attention, helping people to rethink, and maybe eventually it leads to policy.”

The podcast host returns to the opening theme of compassion and the way that patriarchy sees feminine traits as being opposed to the work that we are supposed to be doing ….

Walter’s answer I found really interesting – I’m still trying to get my head round it!
He went on to talk about Ideology and Narrative, and offered an image of Ideology floating above narrative, patriarchy as an example of ideology, and the importance of knowing our story.

“What ideology does is to cause us to deny our own narrative in order to accommodate somebody else’s narrative. The work is to help people get below whatever ideology they are hooked in, including Liberalism, to hear specific ‘Narratives of Pain and Possibility.’ When we are held by an ideology, we become alienated from our own narrative of pain and possibility, and cannot make contact with anybody else’s narrative. The work is to expose the way that ideology, (including patriarchy), leads to despair and denial and the cover up of our own primary narrative.”

(In ‘my speak’ – when we are locked into a particular way of looking at the world, we are unable to own our own story, or to hear the story of others who have a different experience. My question here would be … what way of looking at the world am I locked into … and is that necessarily unhelpful )?

Walter Brueggemann: “People who support Donald Trump are signing on to an ideology, even though it contradicts their own personal story of what they want and what they need and what they hope for. Consequently they have very little contact with themselves because they have signed on to this ideology. The more we are trapped into an ideology, the less we understand the wonder and the problematic of our own narrative – because everybody’s story is wondrous and problematic – but we don’t have to commuicate about that if we have a cover-all ideology that displaces that.”

I’m still trying to process all of that, but what I take away from it is two things:

The change that is required to move from energising our own lives to being a part of work that can energise a community.

The importance of our story and being able to tell it and own it.

Grace and Peace.


One thought on “‘Narratives of Pain and Possibility.’

  1. Not so sure. Ideology is “a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy”. The important words being “forms the basis of”. It is dogma which should be avoided. Ideology simply provides us with the basis for us to work with. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

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