Monday, February 20, 2006

How to Tell the History of Worship (in Thirty Minutes or Less!)

There was a certain meanness to the spirit of E's cold last week, expressed most tangibly in his bout with croup on Tuesday night. I felt pretty sure I'd be coming down with it, too. It just had that character about it--not satisfied 'til it made as many people miserable as possible. :) I was right.

I laid low on Friday and Saturday and thought it would be a pretty mild case, but all I needed was the busyness of Sunday to cause the cold to rear up in all its ugliness. And now, I'm spent. Damn.

D's parents arrive tonight and we're all really looking forward to the visit. I'm hoping if I drink lots and lots of water through my day, then I'll drown the cold right out of me. They're stopping off here only for a couple days, on their way to Hawaii, and I desperately do not want to pass this miserable thing off to them, too.

For the past few days, as I've been laying low, I have been working on putting together my part of a Whirlwind Tour of the History of Christian Worship for our Intro to Worship Course. What a project! I have about six segments that I'm working on, and my colleague is working on another six or so. We have thirty minutes to do the entire presentation, which we plan to do using powerpoint. If you break it down in to minutes per segment, you can see we have to be extremely efficient.

There is always some violence, in some ways, to doing history. So much gets lopped off, in order to present some continuous narrative of events. The question is always--who is included? who is excluded? (I think that's a singular question, as both are asked simulataneously.)

Most often the history of worship is told from a) the perspective of a "liturgical" tradition, whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, or Lutheran and b) a Euro-centric persopective.

Our challenge, in our thirty minutes whirlwind tour, is to give a comprehensible sweep of the history of Christian worship that a) extends into the development of free-church, frontier, evangelical, revivalist worshiping traditions and b) includes the telling of segments of history of Christian worship in India (traditionally going back to Saint Thomas in 52!), Korea, and the Pacific Islands (both 19th century missionary sites).

So, no problem, right? :) In fact, I find it very exciting, if challenging. And we'll see if we can pull it off. I'll let you know . . .

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