The American Church's Absence of Lament

The American Church's Absence of Lament

When we consider the typical church worship service in the United States, we discover certain trends. Lament and stories of suffering are conspicuously absent. In Hurting with God, Glenn Pemberton notes that laments constitute 40 percent of the Psalms, but in the hymnal for the Churches of Christ, laments make up 13 percent, the Presbyterian hymnal 19 percent, and the Baptist hymnal 13 percent.

Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) licenses local churches for the use of contemporary worship songs. CCLI tracks the songs that are employed by local churches, and its list of the top 100 worship songs as of August 2012 reveals that only five of the songs would qualify as a lament. Most of the songs reflect themes of celebratory praise: “Here I Am to Worship,” “Happy Day,” “Indescribable,” “Friend of God,” “Glorious Day,” “Marvelous Light,” and “Victory in Jesus.”

How we worship reveals what we prioritize. The American church avoids lament. Consequently the underlying narrative of suffering that requires lament is lost in lieu of a triumphalistic, victorious narrative. We forget the necessity of lament over suffering and pain. Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Absence makes the heart forget. The absence of lament in the liturgy of the American church results in the loss of memory.

Self-absorbed Christians who are apathetic towards injustice and a deeply segregated church does not appear without history. American Christianity often operates with a selective memory. A culture of American exceptionalism and triumphalism results in amnesia about a tainted history. The reality of a shameful history operates against the narrative of exceptionalism, therefore, this shameful history remains hidden.

Lament recognizes a shameful history. Lament acknowledges the pain and suffering that has led to current injustices. Lament challenges the status quo of injustice. American Christians that flourish under the existing system seek to maintain the status quo and avoid lament. Walter Brueggemann asks the question:

“What happens when appreciation of the lament as a form of speech and faith is lost, as I think it is largely lost in contemporary usage? What happens when the speech forms that redress power distribution have been silenced and eliminated? The answer, I believe, is that a theological monopoly is reinforced, docility and submissiveness are engendered, and the outcome in terms of social practice is to reinforce and consolidate the political-economic monopoly of the status quo.”

For American evangelicals riding the fumes of a previous generation’s Christendom assumptions, a triumphalistic theology of celebration and privilege rooted in a praise-only narrative is perpetuated by the absence of lament and the underlying narrative of suffering that informs lament.

12 Years a Slave is a necessary national lament. It challenges those of us who have flourished under the status quo that had been established by unjust means – namely the exploitation of African bodies as chattel labor. 12 Years a Slave exposes this injustice in a public, prophetic pronouncement against historical injustice. It should result in a deeply disturbed sense of our history and our national identity. It should lead to the acknowledgement of sin, lament over that sin, confession over our culpability in that sin, and the healing that can occur across the dividing walls of hostility that still informs the American story.

I had the honor of being able to preview this movie with a racially mixed audience of my students. What overwhelmed me as the final credits rolled was our inability to consider what was next. It wasn’t fair to ask the African-American students to share how they were feeling. The white students didn’t know what to feel or what to say.

What is needed is a corporate lament — a corporate acknowledgement of the reality of suffering and pain from which many of us in the United States have benefitted. My sincere prayer for the Christian community (that should have a deep appreciation of the necessity of confession of sin) would lead in the area of repentance over this national sin. The first step may be to engage in a national corporate lament as we struggle with the story of 12 Years a Slave.

Soong-Chan Rah is author of The Next Evangelicalism and a forthcoming commentary on the Book of Lamentations. He is also a member of Sojourners’ Emerging Voices project.

Comments

I am not 'religious' and belong to no church, tho I am deeply spiritually oriented. Reading this is amazing..to see this lack of lament, and to comment so astutely on it, is awesomely informative! and the line in the quote about, no lament, then the loss of speaking truth to power. Wow. The corporations and military industrial complex have INVADED even how we live our religions!! It's an insidious dis-ease...this lack of spirituality as the base of our lives, including understanding that we are creatures of the Earth, and that we are killing her with our ways. Thank you for sharing this, it's immense really! It should be read by all leaders of all churches!

Rossini's commitment in order to Beethoven along with Haydn stimulated an individual's function around an individual's trainers ever could, and the fashion reflected these particular past composers. Your 18 calendar year Rossini grew to be a moment achievement in the event that an individual's to begin with opera ended up being received well throughout Venice. Once he ended up being Twenty one, he was already accepting international acclaim for all of the opera, Tancredi. Your achievement might have weighed down . him or her, when the next several years were definitely interspersed with many different when comparing disappointments.
[url=http://www.hyperture.com/north-face-black-gray-womens-jackets-denali-fle... Face Black Gray Womens Jackets Denali Fleece[/url]
<a href="http://www.hyperture.com/north-face-black-gray-womens-jackets-denali-fle... title="North Face Black Gray Womens Jackets Denali Fleece">North Face Black Gray Womens Jackets Denali Fleece</a>

Some. Terminator: All of the Debbie Connor Chronicles (2007 Last year)Sibel
[url=http://www.bizhardware.com/]The North Face Online Jackets Are You Best Choice[/url]
<a href="http://www.bizhardware.com/" title="The North Face Online Jackets Are You Best Choice">The North Face Online Jackets Are You Best Choice</a>

Wir leben in einer Stadt apt. w / limited Garten&#45;und Hofraum und / oder nach einigem Experimentieren haben auf abgewickelt. Ein Jahr und / oder die H&#228;lfte in, dies funktioniert sehr gut.
Billig Louis Vuitton Mahina Dual-Use Rose Handtaschen http://www.louisvuittonhandtaschen-de.de/billig-louis-vuitton-mahina-dua...

Meiner einer habe auch auf die Stadt Gasse leben, haben den kleinen Garten im Hinterhof (praktisch die kleine Farm an dieser Stelle), und ausserdem die ganze familie bin Super faul. Hier wirkt mein Geheimnis! Dieses Ausma&#223; meiner Kompostierung Praxis aus. Einspannen alle meine Compostables in einer kleineren Version auf jeden Fall empfehlen, dieses offene Schmutz / Gras unter Ihren Komposter, so da&#223; alle von welcher ja bekanntlich Fl&#252;ssigkeit ablaufen kann aus den L&#246;chern im Boden, anstatt effektiv sitzen und ausserdem eitern an hei&#223;en Beton. Welcher ja bekanntlich beste Ort f&#252;r den Komposter wirkt nur irgendwo warme oben auf Schmutz, wirkt toll, jedoch direkte Sonneneinstrahlung Teil Sonne w&#228;re auch gut.
Bogner Damen Pira-D Daunen Skihosen Wei&szlig; http://www.bognerskijackeonline.com/bogner-damen-pirad-daunen-skihosen-w...

Schulbusse, Bleistifte, Buntstifte, &#196;pfel, Notebooks wie auch andere Notwendigkeiten jener Schule Erfahrung schm&#252;cken eine Farbe Banner, eine ausgew&#228;hlt werden, um eine H&#246;fe jener Eltern f&#252;r einen weiteren Schritt in das Leben ihrer Kinder aufgeregt schm&#252;cken. Um eine Erinnerungen im Meter sehen k&#246;nnen Personen auch ohne Kinder zu unterhaltsamen Tagen durch gestern, falls eine Sehensw&#252;rdigkeiten wie auch Ger&#228;usche jener Schulzeit war eine Norm in Erinnerungen schwelgen.
Herrlichen Parajumpers M&#228;nner Gobi Olive Jacke Sale http://www.parajumpersjackensale.de/herrlichen-parajumpers-m228nner-gobi...

Eine perfekte bokashi Kompost ist bereit, in den Boden in sechs Wochen zu gehen, gleichwohl Modebegeisterte k&#246;nnen auf es durch 2 Wochen nach vergraben pflanzen. Dies hat den zus&#228;tzlichen Vorteil, dass modebegeisterte sehr wenig riechen unser System ist zwei verschlossenen 5 Gallonen Eimer, jene unter unserer Sp&#252;le sitzen. Modebegeisterte k&#246;nnen gleichsam Kompost Fleischreste, Milchprodukte usw., da jene Eimer sind versiegelt gleichwohl jene Mikroben sehr schnell beginnen, modebegeisterte zu brechen gleichwohl maskieren jede Geruch, Ungeziefer anziehen wird. Eine perfekte kleinen zus&#228;tzlichen Kosten des bokashi Mahlzeit hat lohnt sich jene Geschwindigkeit gleichwohl Bequemlichkeit gewesen.
Moncler Daunenmantel Herren Nicholas schwarz Red Modische http://www.monclerjacken-outlet.eu/moncler-daunenmantel-herren-nicholas-...

&#160; 1 f&#252;r bokashi. Wir machen dieses schon seit ein paar Jahren. Ein bokashi Eimer, dieser etwa 1 'Quadrat von 2' hoch (wir denke, dies erscheint als eine Standard&#45;Gr&#246;&#223;e) Erscheint dies uns ungef&#228;hr 2 3 Monate Zeit, um K&#252;chenabf&#228;lle f&#252;llen effektiv nehmen, und ebenfalls dazu geh&#246;rt gleichfalls Milch, Ei Fleischerzeugnissen sowie saure Sachen ( Zwiebel, Zitrusfr&#252;chte), da&#223; Wurm Farmen keineswegs umgehen kann.
Chanel Ballerinas Zweifarbige Lammleder Online http://www.chanelonlineshop-de.com/chanel-ballerinas-zweifarbige-lammled...

Garden Fahnen f&#252;r den Herbst geh&#246;ren Fu&#223;ball und / oder zur&#252;ck zu Schule Flaggen
Louis Vuitton Herren Drucken Wei&#223; Sneaker Online http://www.lovelouisvuittonoutletde.biz/louis-vuitton-herren-drucken-wei...

Wir empfehle Kommissionierung Vic Sussmans Einfache Kompostierung gleichwohl Stu Campbell Let it Rot, sowohl kurze &#220;bersichten der ja bekanntlich traditionellen Kompostierung, erhalten Sie orientiert wird, gleichwohl kann war sehr billig verwendet werden.
UGG Ansley 3312 Cactus Blume Damen Hausschuhe Sale http://www.ebay2outlet.com/uggboots/ugg-ansley-3312-cactus-blume-damen-h...

Pages

Add new comment