Lamentation over the Doctrine of Discovery

Just the idea that such a thing could happen, even if it does not, is miles beyond what I had dreamed possible! Thanks be to God. Working with this group in this way is simply amazing; no one is trying to take over. Everyone is listening to each other. We don’t know where this will all lead, but we are all working together to find out. What an honor, what a gift!

I am probably too happy about this day to begin to be able to write down very much of how it unfolded. The short version is to say that we read, listened to and pondered Isaiah 29:17-24…allowing it to sink into and then responded to it.

We read and heard and pondered and responded to the various historical documents, (in excerpt form) of the Doctrine of Discovery:

Papal Bull Dum Diversas 1452  = okay to enslave perpetually any non-Christian on the planet                                                                                                                                             Papal Bull  Romanus Pontifex 1455 = okay to take everything of “theirs” and use it for profit…

“Doctrine of Discovery, ( as the context for) Manifest Destiny and (US dealings with ) NA”

….And then I offered a brief version of my work on Laments as tools, voices for healing and reconciliation.

And then another person said that it had come to him during his morning prayer today that we should begin the 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church with a whole church lament over the Doctrine of Discovery, Conquest and the on-going consequences.

And then yet more good ideas, good work were shared. Such a rich feast.

We had dinner with the Christ Church Cathedral NA Committee…which was really wonderful, until the fire alarm went off, the fire men arrived and we had to leave early.

That was followed by walking to and from Kentucky. What a day!

I think I will sleep soon. This has been a very good day. Thanks be to God.

About kathrynrickert

Possibly from watching the movie Bambie at the age of 6, I have had a life-long awareness that saying ONLY nice things, does not make the world just or kind. Thus, my 2009 doctoral dissertation..."Talking Back to God" , is one of the main aspects of the work I do. Always interdisciplinary, seeking connections across borders that are usually marked with DO NOT ENTER, I seek to pay attention, pray, think, create,and imagine using biblical laments, Christian worship texts, and the ordinary stuff of everyday life.
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2 Responses to Lamentation over the Doctrine of Discovery

  1. Christopher Johnson says:

    Hi Kathryn
    Chris Johnson here from the Episcopal Church Center. I hope this note finds you well.
    I attempted to order a copy of your dissertation just now and received a message that it was not available at this time. Can you help me? I am preparing my prospectus for a DMin program I am in and want to explore connecting it with the Public Lament we are planning for General Convention next summer as an opportunity to report the various narrative responses to that offering. To that end, I would like to study your work closely as a foundational resource for my proposed work. Can you help me obtaina copy through your publisher or another source? I trust you will be going to Sacramento for the planning meeting next week. I am committed to my studies laying the foundation for this very project. I talked with Sarah yesterday and plan to send her a copy of my brief overview that I will develop into a prospectus by year end. My immediate interest is to define Public Lament. Your current postings describe the basis for doing Public Lament, but they don’t actually provide me with a definition I can use. Your help would be a blessing and greatly appreciated. In fact, if there would be interest, I would be happy to invite you into the lay consulting group that will oversee my work. Please consider my request and let me know your thoughts.
    Grace and peace,

    • Chris,

      How wonderful to hear from you and to hear what you are doing.

      I began one reply, and it went away. Okay…. as i was saying. thank you for trying to find my dissertation.
      i will look into it and see what is what.
      I too need to be able to get a hold of it. I have three copies,
      all loaned out, and am trying to get them back. I will bring you a copy of the dissertation on a disc…
      i.e to Sacramento (You will be there, I hope.? If not, I will send it to you some how.)

      As I was saying in the other response,….what the dissertation allowed me to do was to get a more clear understanding
      of how laments, both individual and communal really are at the core of the relationship between God and the people
      of Israel. that is… this is the biblical piece, as well as some of the liturgical opportunities,
      ( mostly missed) but often more active as obstacles to actual lament.

      The dissertation explores mostly four examples of “narrative” biblical laments in the Torah. That may seem
      like no big deal, but it was/ is a very intentional effort to make very clear, that lament is not something that is
      extra, optional….and rare in the Traditions. (Here, I claim that Lament is constitutive to both Judaism and Christianity.)
      The great example, all to common among even very well educated Episcopalians, including clergy and seminary professors
      of liturgy…is that many think that laments occur primarily in the Psalter, and books such as Lamentations,
      and are okay for Lent, but otherwise we should not/ do not talk-think- image – relate to God in that way.!

      So, what the dissertation does for the most part, is to make a strong case for the fact that lament is not much accepted, practiced, etc in either contemporary Christian or Jewish
      worship, or spiritual practices.
      The things that I am doing now, e.g. a week Friday, will be of more help in that now I am actually
      having opportunities to try out some of the practices. And, I do attempt to define what I call “Public communal lament”
      in my work. The more I am out with this and engaging with people, the more I learn about what we need to do
      if we are to have a contemporary practice of public communal lament.

      So, Chris… if you would write to me again from your email address, I could send you the more current things I am working on.
      I will find you copy of my dis… one way or the other. But, if you really want to figure out how public communal lament works,
      what I did last week, ( at VST) may help lot more.

      And, I am also working on an article to submit to ATR,,, which I hope they will publish. The article, based on a class that I taught
      in spring 2010, (Lamentations, Ancient and Postmodern)… on how we might study and teach biblical laments in ways that lead
      to their actual use for lamentation! All of my work is aimed at public, communal lament. (I am not so much interested in the
      private kind; I figure that is what rich people get to do in therapy. As far as I can understand it…there was no such thing as totally
      private lament in the ancient world….or for that matter in most of today’s 2/3s world.)
      That article has yet more that will be of interest to you, e.g. definitions, etc.
      And in fact your comments might help me to finish it. IT is still in a very, very rough version. so, if you promise not to laugh too loudly,
      and not to share with others, yet…( but you are free and encouraged to cite it, etc.)

      So, send me your email address again, and I will send you a couple of attachments… that will offer you a more reflected distillation
      of what is in the dissertation.

      For the Native Ministries Consortium Summer School, at VST (week one)…I taught “Laments, Voices for Healing and Reconciliation.”
      I had planned for the students to write and to present a lament on the last day of class, and then do some kind of
      a rite of going from Mourning into Joy. (That move is the really tricky one, that I learned the hard way….you simply have to
      build into any practice of public communal lament. It is actually not so hard to get people to lament, but the healing and
      reconciliation piece doesn’t happen unless the community/ assembly is also able to make the move out of lament.!! It is the combination that is powerful.)
      Any way… it turned out that summer school planners were still looking for various groups to lead the worship during the week.
      So, we had this gift from God… the opportunity to plan, lead and participate with the entire VST summer school community, (both
      NA and anglo) . So… using most of what we had done during the week and some of the laments that the students wrote…
      and their native languages, songs, drums, etc… we came up with this awesome Noonday Prayer.

      So… please write to my email…
      I will find out about the dissertation.

      So thankful to hear that and what you are doing.
      i would be honored to help in any way that I can.



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