I just read a great blog post entitled “Tuscon: Liturgies of Anger” by David+ from “As kthe Priest.” It deals with the recent shootings in Tucson, Arizona, and the role vitriolic political and Culture War rhetoric plays in the escalation of violence. While many extreme-minded people on the Right tend to down play their role in all this (and people of the more extreme left are not exempt, either – it takes two to tango, after all), the author brings into the discussion a very interesting idea.
For those of us in liturgical Churches, we well understand the role and effect of the liturgy within and upon people – their thoughts, their lives, their dispositions, their sense of selves and their place in the world, etc. The repeated rhythms and foci of liturgies have a transformative effect on and in peoples’ lives. The words of Scripture, prayers, confessions, and reflections get into us, and we believe the Holy Spirit uses all these aspects of liturgy to change us to better reflect the imago of God and to be made evermore into the image of Christ.
If we understand the transformative role of the liturgies and the repeated forms, then we also know that the continual drone of vitriol, character assassination, etc., has a deleterious effect on our culture and upon the thinking and acting of ordinary people – all of us. To deny such a thing is to deny the understanding of Madison Ave. and all the ad-men/women who pump out billions of dollars of advertisements to get us to buy products, to change our minds on certain causes, and to vote for certain people.
Living within a society that champions free-speech is one thing, but engaging in false witness, in manipulative speech designed to denigrate and vilify one’s opponent, designed to tear down responsible trust in our government (particulalrly the courst), etc., will only result in this kind of thing. These are the actions of frustrated people who know that their positions have become unaccepted and unbelieved by the majority of people. Their arguments are not persuasive for the majority of citizens, and then suddenly the end justifies whatever means they can devise to win.
I’ve been saying for a few years now that if we continue on down of our current political and Culture War path, a representative democracy will not be possible. This is the kind of outcome that we allow! If we don’t stand up and demand civility among our elected officials and demand to stop those who strive to manipulate the process and populace when their arguments to persuade the rest of us of the rightness of their cause fail them, then we deserve what we get.
By the way, a former seminary-mate of mine one year behind my class, The Rev. Cn. Amy Coultas, is one of the contributing priests.