Performing The Faith

Nov 4 2012 @ 1:12pm

Altar22

Theo Hobson explores the theological project of Rowan Williams, who helped him understand "that Christianity is not essentially a big idea that we must try to spread, by arguing for its truth, but a cultural tradition, centred on the church's ritual":

He presented Christianity as a cultural tradition, the place where a very specific form of meaning is made, shared, passed on; where supreme authority belongs to the "central symbol" of cross and resurrection, which the church performs in the eucharist. When many, such as his Cambridge colleague Don Cupitt, were arguing against traditional metaphysical belief, or defending it in rather dated terms, he changed the subject. The question of what we believe is secondary to the question of what we do, what forms of symbolic communication we participate in, what cultural language we speak. We must rethink our tradition in these semiotic terms. Jesus was "a sign-maker of a disturbingly revolutionary kind", he writes in an essay of 1987. And Christian culture echoes his sign-making. This communal sign-making is, for Christians, the most authentically basic bit of culture. Is it just another bit of human culture? Yes and no: for here, we believe, the true myth is performed, the fullest meaning is made.

More Dish on Rowan Williams here and here.

(Photo by Flickr user avlxyz)