Getting out of life alive

If you want to know what it feels like to be under a power, it is exactly to be possessed by the desire to get out of life alive…

-Stanley Hauerwas

First, I will acknowledge that Hauerwas goes on to say that Christianity is the alternative to this subjection, which is basically the opposite of what I’m about to say. But, I like this quote, and it’s an idea that Hauerwas repeats often – that like modern approaches to medicine, American Christianity tries to offer “getting out of life alive,” which is of course impossible. None of us will get out of life alive, but we often do whatever we can to escape that reality. Continue reading

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Secular spirituality: two songs that helped me contextualize my doubt

Ever since I ran into the concept of “secular liturgies” (Rock and Theology has a great series exploring this concept), I’ve been noticing that human beings are liturgical beings. No matter what our religious or non-religious preferences are, we still use liturgical means to express something bigger than our individual selves – music, visual art, ceremonies, recitation of commonly-held values, a lecture or a show where we gather together to try to understand, or marvel at the mystery of an aspect of human existence, and so on.

The thing that has drawn me to literature and music is the way in which they contextualize the human condition. There are two songs that have helped me contextualize my religious doubts – Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Hozier’s Take Me to Church. Both of them use explicit religious language and imagery to simultaneously question the existence of God and to find spiritual meaning in humanity, specifically the very human act of sex. During my doubting of religion and God, I’ve worried about losing spirituality. But, as these (and many other) songs indicate, there is something spiritual in being a part of this thing called humanity. Continue reading