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In die Skriflig

On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441


BARNARD, M.. Flows of worship in the network society: Liminality as heuristic concept in Practical Theology beyond action theory. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2010, vol.44, n.1, pp.67-84. ISSN 2305-0853.

In this article it is demonstrated why and how liminality has developed into a key concept in Practical Theology, in particular in Liturgical Studies. Liminality began its voyage at the beginning of the 20th century as indication of the phase "betwixt and between" distinguished social and spatial stages in rites of passage (Van Gennep, 1960). Among its defining qualities were autonomy and instability. In the sixties it developed into a more permanent state, in which "communitas" could come into being as a marginal form of human interrelatedness (Turner, 1995). In the network society of the 21st century liminality has accomplished its journey by moving to the centre of society, pushing structured human interrelatedness to the "margin", or more precisely to the local, regional, national or categorical (religious, gender, sexual preference, etc.) domain (Castells, 2000a; 2004; 2000b). Human society is built around a centre of the stability of the unstable. This also holds for Christian faith and for liturgy. Christian ritual is performed across (worldwide) networks and in independent groups and churches by anyone who chooses to do so. There is no liturgical elite anymore; it is principally a popular movement characterised by "plural authority structures". The academic heuristic power of liminality is finally demonstrated in two liturgical cases.

Keywords : liminality; liturgical studies; network society; practical theology; worship.

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