Thursday, February 09, 2012

Love, Liturgy, the Mall, and Backward Pants

Here's another one from the Garfield minus Garfield people.

I think this is pretty profound. There are a couple of way to look at this.

It could be that he is elated that someone would want to be him and then crushed when this other person changed his or her mind. Perhaps to Jon Q. Arbuckle his is an identity worth sharing and he wants to share it with everyone.

Or he is eluted to be free of his identity, as if it was something to rid himself of, only to find that the other person has given it back, thus he remains trapped in his identity.

In any case, it reminded me of a quote from James K. A. Smith:

“Liturgies—whether ‘sacred’ or ‘secular’—shape and construe our identities by forming our most fundamental desires and our most basic attunement to the world. In short, liturgies make us certain kinds of people, and what defines us is what we love.

We are defined but what we love, which could end up being something that we want to share with others or something that we, ourselves, actually want to be free from.

The real question is: do we know what we love? And does it makes us into the kind of people who can/want to share it with others? Or does what we love ultimately trap us in identities not worth sharing. Identities we, in fact, grow to despise.  

I suggest you watch a segment from a lecture Smith did (watch from 7:15 to about 13:00). He uses the Mall as an example of how liturgy works. In the clip he says, "The Mall is a liturgical institution ... a formative institution that wants to shape your identity by shaping what you love." We are what we love.

This is why parody, satire, humor, etc is so powerful. If you don't believe me then consider the phenomenon of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Deconstruction works the same way, which is why I love these Garfield cartoons. These things can help us recognize the assumptions we make about what is good, true, and beautiful, whether they are good or bad assumptions.

And with that, I close with this. The hope of cultivating a profound awareness about the deep things of God. It is the goal of liturgy.

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