The Beautiful Funeral: The Aesthetics of a Liturgy
Melinda Ann Quivik
Institution: Graduate Theological
Advisor: Coordinator Lizette Larson-Miller
Source: DAI, 64, no. 11A (2003): p. 4093
Inspired by the liturgical reforms emerging from Vatican II, many Christian denominations began revisions of their liturgical books, often reflecting a renewed emphasis on the centrality of the sacraments of baptism and eucharist. Just as theological understandings contribute to liturgical changes, so revised rites can and do lead to new theological understandings. The question asked by this dissertation is how a liturgy centered in word and sacrament might be structured in light of a liturgical aesthetic.
This study begins with a history of the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) Burial of the Dead in order to show the theological issues which underlay many liturgical choices.It then examines the liturgical theology of Gordon Lathrop and the aesthetic theology of Alejandro Garcia-Rivera, with particular attention to the work of philosopher John Dewey and mathematician Charles Sanders Peirce, in order to create a new liturgical aesthetic.
Lathrop's liturgical theology asserts that meaning is generated not simply through the assertion of "truths," but through the proximity between those "holy things" that mediate God's grace: the holy scriptures, baptismal waters, communion meal, and the baptized. The relationship between signs of the faith and the postmodern critique of received tradition is explored especially through the work of Merold Westphal, showing that Lathrop's "broken symbols" are not reliant on conventional notions of metanarrative as oppressor but, on the contrary, create liberating spaces for meaning-creation. Alejandro Garcia-Rivera's theological aesthetic asserts that God's beauty is made available through both kataphatic and apophatic engagement with the difference between signs. Experience of the beautiful is to come into the presence of contradiction.
The new liturgical aesthetic becomes a lens with which to evaluate the capacity of the LBW Burial of the Dead to mediate the beauty of God. Its elements include understanding the liturgical experience as an event in which the assembly participates intuitively as well as cognitively to create the meaning of its faith. Issues that the funeral rite most fruitfully considers surround the identity of the communion of saints in light of the resurrection.
RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY OF
Accession No: AAI3110195