One of the things I am currently focused on and really hungry to know more about is the concept of liturgies of resistance. A concept I originally discovered when studying the Book of Revelation. I think this is one of the keys to our ability to resist and survive empire (and the “liturgy of the lamb” is one of the practices I write about in my book that I see from Revelation that are key to the resistances of empire). I also believe that in the majority of Christian churches today, the liturgies have been so de-fanged, watered-down, even compromised by the religion of empire that they are not strong enough to inoculate us in any meaningful way.
What are the liturgies that form us currently? Here liturgy being rituals that we engage in that shape our desires, our language, our imaginations about what is possible and what is “out there.” Liturgy shapes us by telling us we are in a certain story. The American empire fueled by late-stage capitalism is rife with liturgies.
Liturgies of empire (I have been greatly helped by James Alison‘s thinking on this):
- Shape our desires by the kind of story we see ourselves a part of (if we are the good guys and “they” are the bad guys then we will see our actions as benevolent)
- Shape what we believe is possible (and what is impossible)
- Dull our senses so that we are not aware of the suffering of our neighbors
- Drive us towards seeing the “sacrifice of others” (or scapegoating) as a necessary part of what we do in order to maintain the peace
- Distract us by excitement, sensationalism, and spectacle that feels good to be on the inside of but keeps us from actually knowing what is going on
Scholar Wes Howard-Brook points out that in Revelation 12 there is a clash between these two liturgies and some of the ways we see these liturgies in use around us:
Poverty, Empire, and the Book of Revelation in the Time of Covid19
Friends, I am hosting an online study of my new book, “Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation as Resistance,” and the Book of Revelation in the time of Covid19 and I want to invite you to consider participating.
I am interested in these three questions with this course: how does can the bible be used as a tool for building a social movement by, of, and for the poor; what do you say to people who believe this is the “end times” and use Revelation to justify all manner of bad behaviors and ideas; and how do we as people of faith and good conscience work to resist empire in this moment?