Thursday, July 09, 2009

No Sanctified Church without Grieving our Grief

If the good Jewish doc is correct in that addictions (particularly sex addictions) are in part related to inability to grieve (or express anger), how does this work out on a cultural/national level? What might our issues with grief (and obsexxions) reveal about what our culture is addicted to?

Seeing U2 two months after 9/11, with the scrolling list of victims' names behind them (as the whole world got to see a few months later at Super Bowl halftime) it just felt like church.

What else is new for a U2 gig, you might ask.

This time, it was sanctified church.

No, that doesn't mean the concert was at a Nazarene church; it means the Arco Arena was ritually sanctified.

"Sanctification" is one of the religious terms Kenneth E. Foote laces into his "Shadowed Ground:
America's Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy
." Gotta love a "secular" book with chapter titles like "Stigmata of National Identity," for example.

But it's in his 2002 afterword to this 1995 book (how do you not update such a book to include 9/11?) that Foote shines. Having suggested throughout the work that public memorials/shrines (or lack of) tend to represent sanctification, designation, rectification or obliteration
("Obliteration results from particularly shameful events people would prefer to forget. ... As a consequence, all evidence is destroyed or effaced of the memory.) Many implications for how we grieve, deal with shame/violence/realit; shift in culture, and how we need collaboration, centered-setness, and church and culture. Read an excerpt below, and the whole section at this link. And, good grief (yes, it is), hear Brueggeman (and U2) on lament.

I assumed that much time would have to pass before decisions would be made about the sanctification, designation, rectification, or obliteration of these sites. ...but I was surprised by the speed with which the Oklahoma City bombing site emerged as a major national memorial..

I began to wonder — and many people asked — whether these events represent a change in the ways Americans deal with adversity. For a long time I remained unconvinced.. In each traumascape I saw similarities to past events, rather than a new pattern. Now, however, I am inclined to think a new trend may be underway. Over the past two or three decades there appears to have developed a greater willingness..
on the part of many communities and individuals to acknowledge the pervasive role that violence plays in contemporary society..

Until quite recently, events of mass murder, terrorism, and day-to-day violence led almost exclusively to obliteration and rectification..The first memorial I have beenable to identify for a mass murder was the one erected in 1990 in San Ysidro, California..a precedent that other communities are emulating: to designate or even sanctify such sites that once would have been considered too shameful to mark.The University of Texas, for instance, dedicated a small memorial garden in 1999 to the victims of the campus mass murder of 1966 — a thirty-three-year delay...
The most fractious and eventually unsatisfying results occur when one grouptakes charge of decision making and excludes participation by others.

n the aftermath of tragedy there is usually no lack of individuals and interest groups wanting to dominate decision making — survivors, victims' families, politicians and owners, emergency workers, and others all demand to be heard — and time and time again, such groups become locked in adversarial roles

..Top-down planning..generate(s) far more acrimony than bottom-up, grass-roots planning efforts.

..In the first chapter (page 6), I wrote that 'the site [of a tragic or violent
event] actually precipitates debate and forces competing interpretations intothe open.' N
ow I would go further and say that debate over what, why, when, and where to build is best considered a part of the grieving process. James Young, a noted scholar of Holocaust memory and memorials, made this point with respect to the prolonged and so far unsuccessful effort construct a central Holocaust memorial in Berlin..'You may have failed to produce a monument, but if you count the sheer number of design hours...already devoted to the memorial, it's clear that your process has already generated more individual memory work than a finished monument will inspire in its first ten years.'"

On that last note, more years could have been saved by hiring 1990s era U2(:
Many have noted that their prophetic act of performing in Hiter's stadium seemed to help heal Holocaustedness and force the isssue of "individual memory work."
More recenlty they sang to " a balcony where Hitler sang"

Such work is perhaps the only emans of our corporately dealing with addictions, grieving that we don't grieve, denying of our denial of death...

and all that stuff we stuff.

At the Holocaust musem in Jerusalem (in an odd way, one of my 'favorite'...better term: 'favored'... places on earth),
a recorded voice lists at normal reading speed the names of Holocaust victims. A name is not repeated for something like seven years.

I don't remember the number of years.
(Recall this Campolo story about stats)

But having been there, and heard the tape, my memory-work now works.

At Bethlehem Bible College (one of my favorite places on earth), there are bullet holes in the sign.

I don't know how many.
But I know I need to make pilgrimage there soon, lest I forget to remember.

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Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!