Tuesday, 12 January 2010

"Curating" is the new in word for talking about liturgy

One of the things I have learnt over the past five years is how to prepare liturgy and services in such a way that I myself have no active role once the worship takes place. I'm gradually realising that doing this is much harder work than just relying on yourself - you need to encourage, empower and sometimes even train others to take up a role. The energy and tension are also very different - less of an internal search for resources and being hyper-aware of how you are "performing", more of an external awareness, becoming eyes and ears to see how it is going along. Yesterday morning things went along just fine and even I was taken by surprise when the person supposed to read one of the prayers simply wasn't at the microphone. After a pause I took over, though not in the language they had been going to speak in.
I've not had much chance to think about this but feel I should try to do a bit of theological reflection about it - even if only on my blog. (Though why I say that quite like that I don't know - it makes it sound as if I might be writing in some more elevated sphere!) Anyway it is reading about "curating" worship on the blogosphere that triggered some of these thoughts.
Over on the creative worship tour you can find some disparaging remarks about "leading worship" as opposed to the loftier "curating" of worship - sorry that sounds a bit negative, it's actually a very helpful post for anyone groping towards an understanding of what curating worship might mean.
There's more on the theme of curating worship on Jonny Baker's blog and here at faithsawayof life. I suppose "curating" is a way of trying to affirm a way of integrating arts, music and perhaps also the whole plasticity of the worship space into the idea of worship. A way also of trying to find a more holistic less word-based approach.
Part of me reacts against all this worship as experience, as another "event" to be consumed. Sometimes I feel that we should just get on with doing it in a "good enough" way. Learning to be quiet and pray, learning to sing and be joyful, learning to listen to and interpret God's word are in themselves pretty tall orders, must things always, always be "new" and arty?
Yet I say that as a person who when I'm asked to speak about worship will often turn up with a large paintbrush and a box of crayons as a symbol of getting others to think outside the box, to understand and do differently. A prayer can be painted or sculpted as surely as it can be said, sung or written. And of course worship can be a sort of flash mob kind of experience. If I am going to "curate" worship in time and space, in colour and sound and music, then I want it to be in a way that enourages relationship with God and with others, not simply in a way that gives people an individual experience. I'm wary of having to be ever more creative in a way that can ultimately allienate people, not because of the art itself but because they are encouraged to come and consume. But I have been really interested by some of Steve Taylor's ideas around worship - I really appreciate how honest he has always been talking about reactions to some of his ideas as well.
I know that much "curated" worship is highly relational and in many ways a reaction against worshippers as consumers of words said by a leader at the front. I suppose I just wonder where some of the everydayness of ordinary morning and evening prayer fit in to the curating business. Hmm ... lots to still think about on this one - loads more reading to do. Leave me some links in the comments if you have some ideas about this. I'm rather a neophyte to all this terminology.

1 Comment:

janetlees said...

Thanks for blogging this - I learnt something and visited a few other blogs. I'm not sure about the word 'curating' myself - it reminded me of eggs (!) but the concept is good and so maybe we need to do more of it and another word might come.