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  • The Lord's Song in the Brazilian Land
  • Jaci Maraschin (bio) and Frederico Pieper Pires (bio)


There is deep relationship between liturgy and ideology. All cultural productions hide interests and desires. As liturgy can properly be considered a work of culture it must necessarily be ideological. But, as any philosophical treatment of ideology ends up in ideology it is useful to discuss the convenience of applying ideology to the theological consideration of liturgy. On the other hand, it is not common studying liturgy from such a perspective. This is due, perhaps, to the uncritical supposition that liturgy is by nature preserved from the stain of ideology, identifying it with the sacred to which it relates. Ideology is a concept but also a phenomenon. This is why the relationship between liturgy and ideology can only be considered in relation to history and, in the conjunct of the so called liturgical arts: music, poetry, song, drama, painting, sculpture, architecture and dance. We should include in this list contemporary forms ofart such as film, TV, and installations. In the twenty-first century liturgy becomes complex at the same time that it suffers all kinds of fragmentation, especially when examined in the context of post-modern tendencies.

What could be ideological in liturgy? Certainly, everything could be, but especially the ambition of being the mediator in the encounter of humans with God or gods. In this case God easily becomes an idol. How can we insist in liturgical practices when the Old Testament God wasso displeased with sacred rituals? According to Amos 5:21–3: 'I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them: and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I willnot listen to the melody of your harps.' Why should God hate and despise religious festivals? The prophet argued from his ethical point of view [End Page 83] because that was the only one viable for him. 'But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream' (v. 24). This is a very specific kind of reading, but an ethical reading is not the only possibility. This kind of reading can be overcome by an aesthetic reading. It seems to us that before justice and righteousness (abstract concepts) there mustbe just and right people among unjust and unrighteous ones. On theother hand, persons carrying these adjectives are never 'pure types'as some sociologists would suggest. Nobody is fully just or completely unjust.

What we want to say is that the wrath of the Old Testament God can be interpreted as his feeling against the conscience that Heidegger, later on, spoke of as 'the forgetting of being'. When the Old Testament God refused to listen to the 'melody of your harps', he was already fleeing fromthe world and keeping distance from human beings. How could we still celebrate liturgies without 'the noise of … songs and the melody of … harps'?

We can interpret the Heideggerian dasein as human embodiment. Dasein (being-there), or presence, is human being as bodies. If it is true that aesthetics come from the bodily conscience while being-in-the-world, upon the earth, with others, our sensibility has to be taken as the proper organ of experience and expression. The basic problem with classical ideologies was and is the superposition of rational structures over human perceptions and sensations aiming at dominating and crushing themfor the purpose of interests which are not ours. This is why Marx has denounced the experience of alienation, Freud, of rationalisation and Nietzsche, of illusions. What is meant by 'injustice' for the prophet but the abandonment of God? It is in our bodies that love is revealed and God comes to us. It is also in our bodies that love can be absent. What would be the good of social and political orders if they served only logical interests? The history of institutions shows how the dasein's conscience has been gone astray towards that which denies it. As the result of...


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pp. 83-100
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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