School of Theology and Seminary Lectures

Godfrey Diekmann Center Graduate Symposium 2024: Jonathan Tan Lecture “Doing Liturgy Intersectionally: Opportunities and Implications”

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School of Theology


What is the relationship betvveen liturgy and ecclesiology? How does the way we worship shape the way we are church, and vice versa? How do ongoing issues like race reconciliation, migration, cultural diversity, and other hot button issues confronting the church shape the way we worship and in turn, our worship shapes the way we address these issues? How do we address issues of agency and representation, challenges of power dynamics, cultural dominance, and ethnocentrism in our liturgies? Th_e powerful and moving images of diverse and pluralistic communities gathering around the baptismal font for baptism, and the altar table to break bread and share a cup is powerful witness to the fact that liturgy is about the gathering of the many and their intersecting experiences into one church sharing one baptism, one bread and cup. This lecture explores the opportunities and implications for doing liturgy at the intersection of diverse languages, ethnicities and cultures, generational shifts and border crossings, hybridities and multiple belongings, as well as the marginalizing experiences of being migrant, poor, different, and invisible in society and church. It considers how intersectional liturgizing enables us to move away from an "us/them" duality towards a ''both/and" mutuality which facilitates a hospitable and welcoming environment, as well as fosters mutuality and interdependence, reconciliation and koinonia, friendship and collaboration, where every is able to listen to, and experience each other's stories, experiences, traditions, dreams, and hopes in solidarity and empathy. It discusses how intersectional liturgizing is also a new way of being church -building a truly intersectional church in the fullness of diversity arid plurality, hybridities and multiple belongings, differences yet united by one baptism and one bread and cup, such that everyone is welcomed and no one is marginalized, excluded, or left behind.

Jonathan Y. Tan is The Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan Professor of Catholic Studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, as well as Organist and Director of Music at The Church of Our Saviour, a bilingual and intercultural urban Episcopal parish in the Mount Auburn neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio with a significant indigenous Mayan Guatemalan and Honduran majority. He holds a Ph.D. in theology and culture from The Catholic University of America in Washington1 DC, a M.A. in liturgical studies from the Graduate Theological Union/ Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, and a LLB. (Honours) from the National University of Singapore Law School. Previously, he taught at Australian Catholic University in Sydney, Australia, Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and The Catholic University of America. Jonathan works at the intersection of World Christianity, Global Catholicism, Liturgical Studies, and Liturgical Music. He is the author of Introducing Asian American Theologies (Orbis Books, 2008), which was funded by the Louisville Institute's First Book Grant for Scholars of Color, 2005 and remains the principal one-volume survey of Asian American Christian theologies. His second book, Christian Mission among the Peoples of Asia (Orbis Books, 2014) has been named by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research as one of 15 outstanding books of 2014 for mission studies. His most recent book, The Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences {FABC): Bearing Witness to the Gospel and the Reign of God in Asia (Fortress Press, 2021) is a definitive study of the contributions of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (F ABC) to an emerging contemporary Asian Catholic way of being church and doing theology. Jonathan is also the lead editor of World Christianity: Perspectives and Insights (Orbis Books, 2016), which has been named by the International Bulletin of Mission Research as one of the 10 outstanding books of 2016 for mission studies, and co-editor of Theological Reflections on the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), which remains the principal work on Christian theologizing on the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement. In the field of liturgical studies, Jonathan's essay, "Beyond Sacrosanctum Concilium: The Future of Liturgical Renewal in the Asian Catholic Church," Studia Liturgica, 44 (2014) remains the principal study of the impact and implications of Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy in Asia. His recent essay, "The Church's Liturgical Music is Countercultural," in Living the Church's Song: Propositions for an Ecumenical Theology of Liturgical Music (GIA, 2023) examines the complex relationship behveen culture and liturgical music. He makes the case for liturgical traditioning in his 2012 essay, "Asian American Catholics and Contemporary Liturgical Migrations: From Tradition-Maintenance to Traditioning" in Liturgy in Migration: From the Upper Room to Cyberspace, ed. Teresa Berger (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2012).

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