This morning I attended part of a consultation on young adult spirituality. Andrew Root of Luther Seminary led us in a thorough and thoroughly sobering overview of the mess we find ourselves in at the end of modernity. There were many moments I was nodding my head, hearing language put to things I've lived but not articulated. One quote (from someone AR was quoting. . .I didn't catch who):
Heritage is tradition repackaged as spectacle.
With the holidays nearly upon us, this seems so true. My congregation is usually happy to sing the same carols as every year, follow the same patterns as every other Christmas Eve, but I begin to worry that not everyone finds much meaning in the tradition beyond the repetition of the familiar. And for some, the familiarity of it may itself be spectacle, not much different from the culture's repackaging of "home for the holidays." Personally, I find great depth in the repetition, like a yoga pose you've done a million times, but different on this day. But I know this is not true for everyone, and for some the difference between heritage and kitsch is pretty thin. And when there is no ongoing faith practice behind the tradition, it really is just sentimental spectacle.
Back on the home front, we're happy to be back to the familiar nuclear family. We're down to four people sleeping in the house tonight, after double that for four nights. We had a lovely time with all the grandparents, but it's nice to be able to get in the bathroom now.