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Old Paths and New Ways

Negotiating Tradition and Relevance in Liturgy


Robert Lilleaasen

The relationship between tradition and relevance is a core feature in religious practice in general and public worship in particular. On the one hand, worship is a bearer of religious traditions, i.e. traditions are maintained in the practice of public worship, and the worship enables individuals to connect with these traditions. On the other hand, it is a quest for relevance in public worship. In order to maintain existing worshippers and attract new participants, congregations have to consider their ability to connect their core values to the needs and expectations of existing and potential participants. This dual purpose of the worship causes a need for negotiation, and it is this negotiation between tradition and relevance that this book investigates. Old Paths and New Ways is a case study of the negotiation between tradition and the quest for relevance in liturgy.

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Chapter Nine: Negotiation


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The purpose of this chapter is to investigate negotiation in the two worship assemblies studied. This investigation leads us to the very core of the main problem of this study, the exploration of the worship practice with a particular interest for tradition and relevance. I will approach the investigation of negotiation in two main parts. First, I will highlight the negotiation which is evident in every Sunday worship, i.e. negotiation connected to ritual objects, practice and subjects in the course of the gathering. Second, I will investigate the factors shaping the negotiation in the longer run. In this second part, the material will be analyzed in view of the theoretical perspective provided by James Mahoney (2000) and Roger Finke (2004), respectively. The guiding question in this chapter is: What characterizes negotiation in the two cases studied?

9.1  The Evolution of Worship

Lutheran Christianity and Lutheran worship in Norway is largely connected to the Church of Norway, an institution that was until quite recently a government-controlled organization developed through reforms approved by the King in Council. Whether it was a new hymnal, order for worship or religious education it has been implemented from above. In view of this the ecclesial cases in this ← 231 | 232 → project represent a different kind of church and worship development. Whereas the development in CoN is from the top down, the cases in this study to a larger extent...

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