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.


Prayers · Worship

Liturgy For A Free People

This follows on directly from the previous post”Lessons For A Free People,” which I would recommend you read first.

I’m attempting to write a prayer for use at a service of Holy Communion, or Eucharist.
In my Anglican tradition, these are called Eucharistic Prayers, and follow a well defined structure that goes back hundreds of years.
The structure goes something like this:
1 Opening responses to affirm God’s presence.
2 Praise and Thanksgiving, usually with some reference to Jesus
3 Congregational response
4 Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, as he blessed the bread and wine that would be shared
5 A prayer that we may remember the death and resurrection of Jesus as the foundation of our faith.
6 The Epiclesis – a prayer to call down the Holy Spirit on those gathered for worship and the gifts of bread and wine
7 Prayer that we may be faithful in our desire to follow Jesus
8 Closing words of praise

Here’s my attempt to work with a similar, but different structure to write a prayer that is focussed on Food Sovereignty

We remember that God is with us, here and now.
We meet in the presence of the risen Lord Jesus
We open our lives to the Holy Spirit among us
We are gathered to give thanks and praise

You called your servant Moses
to lead your people from slavery into freedom;
You provided food for them
day by day in the desert wilderness;
And you taught them to live
so that none would be in need.

Often they forgot your ways
of truth and justice,
mercy and peace.
But time and time again
you received them back,
and taught them once more
to worship you in their works
and not just their words.

In time, Jesus came to live among your people
to lead them once more from slavery into freedom.
He provided for the crowd in the desert wilderness
when he took the bread, and gave thanks;
broke it and shared it among the crowd.
He reminded them of their calling
to practise justice so that all are fed.

Jesus lived as an example to all,
Reaching out to the poor,
The widow, the orphan and the stranger.
His death destroyed for ever the power of death
His resurrection restored our life

Lord Jesus, come now and bring your freedom

As we share this meal
we remember the last meal that Jesus shared with his friends
And ask that you send down your Holy Spirit
on us and on this bread and wine
that we may live in obedience to your law of love.

For on that night
as Jesus met with his friends,
about to be handed over to be killed
he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said:
This is my body, given for you all.
Jesus then gave thanks for the wine;
he took the cup, gave it and said:
This is my blood, shed for you all
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in remembrance of me.

Blessed are you,
Holy and Mighty one
for through your goodness we now have this bread to offer;
fruit of the earth and work of human hands,
it will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed are you
Holy and Eternal one
for through your goodness we now have this wine to offer;
fruit of the vine and work of human hands,
It will become for us the cup of freedom.

Every time we share this meal
May no one have too much,
and none have too little.
And where we have allowed
the rich to get richer
and the poor to get poorer
may we act justly
to restore what has been taken away.

For this hope we bless you God.
Bless us now as we scatter
to share in your life,

wherever you lead us;
until we are gathered once more
to share with one another

what we have known of your goodness,
and remember again in bread and wine
Your gift for the life of the world.

Amen.