Opus Dei: Toward the Sacramental Counterpoint of Liturgy and Ethics in a Diasporic Imaginary Open Access

Suna-Koro, Kristine (2010)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/qv33rw81j?locale=en


Theological method is the mindscape of perceiving and conceiving God, world,
and human life. It is the crystallization of the patterns and practices of religious knowing
as well as the axiological structure of culturally and historically embedded organization
of knowledge and imagination. As such it cannot be detached from ethical, social, and
political imagination and praxis. This project is a quest for ethically inflected
methodological envisagements of a non-hegemonic model of relationality from the
perspectives of constructive sacramental-liturgical theology in conversation with
postcolonial theory and diaspora discourses. The competitive and mutually detractive
disengagement between liturgy and ethics is interrogated as a symptom of the binaristic
epistemological imagination of Western colonial modernity and its mainstream Christian
theological creativity. Liturgical-sacramental discourses have been routinely adiaphorized
in dominant Western theology as a matter of methodological value-coding. Similar
methodological habits influenced the marginalization of ethics in theological inquiry.
Sacramental discourse, however ambiguously, challenges the dualistic and relationally
competitive texture of Western modern theological imagination. It resonates particularly
aptly with certain recent postcolonial critiques of coercive and non-reciprocal templates
of relationality to foster a shared reflection on the nature of asymmetrical, yet ethically
invested, configurations of relationality.
The constructive impetus of this project originates from the exploration of a
postcolonially colored diasporic imaginary. As a diasporic female Latvian-American
theologian, I reflect on it as a trajectory of methodological comportment in theological
inquiry. To assess the transformative potential of diasporically situated
reconceptualizations of the symptomatic divide between liturgy and ethics as precisely a
methodological conundrum, the deeply ambiguous contributions of diasporic Russian
Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann and Jewish Lithuanian-French ethicist
Emmanuel Levinas are surveyed. From within a diasporic imaginary, I argue that an
ethically inflected theological envisagement of relationality in the present era of
postcoloniality can be engendered through a conversation between the Eastern Christian
idea of sacramentally inscribed synergy and the postcolonial conception of hybridity. To
modulate the dualistic gridlocks, the notion of counterpoint as a specification of
postcolonial hybridity by Palestinian-American postcolonial theorist Edward W. Said
emerges as the pivotal constructive figure of an ethically and sacramentally scored
constellation of relationality.

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

Overture 41

Part I

Chapter 1
Interrogating Disengagement:Liturgy and Ethics in the Gridlock of Parerga 70

1. Liturgy: Whose Work? 78
2. Ethics: Which Ethics? 90
3. Ambiguous Adiaphorization: Liturgy and Ethics as Parerga 96
4. Re-orchestrating the Overpitched Polarity: From Shock and Awe to Oscillation and Rehearsal of Eucharistic Living 111

Chapter 2
Beyond Revolutions and Reversals: The Postcolonial Nuance 124

1. The Ominous "Post": Which Postcolonial/ity/ism? 127
2. Postcolonial Reasons for Theological Reasoning 133
3. Hybridity as an Attribute of a Postcolonially Touched Diasporic Theological Temperament 140
4. Diasporic Imaginary: A Fugued Homing Desire 147

Part II

Chapter 1
From Cult to Liturgy, from Liturgy to Life and Lures of Diaspora: The Liturgical Tainstvo of Alexander Schmemann 156

1. Theology as Minority Discourse: Negotiating Liturgical Exoticism, Mystical Orientalism and Lures of Diaspora 159
2. Resisting the "Western" Captivity: Exodus or Return to "the Fathers"? 167
3. Liturgy: Reclaiming Its Sacramental Glories and Uncovering Its Ethical Perils 174

Chapter 2
From the "Poetry" of Liturgy to the "Prose" of Emmanuel Levinas: On Not Already Being Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise 201

1. Resisting the Captivity of Splendor and Levitation: Religion as Rite and "Liturgy" 206
2. Beyond Dreams and Incantations: Liturgy as Work 212
3. The Liturgy Which Comes to Mind in Conversation with the Saraband of Innumerable Cultures 218

Part III

Chapter 1
Beyond the Rationale of Binarity: Counterpoint 228

1. Edward Said: Counterpoint as a Method of Interpretation 233
2. A Postcolonial Counterpoint: An Imaginary of Relationality Beyond Coercion 242

Chapter 2
Sacramentality and Ethics: From Synergy to Counterpoint and Back With a Difference 258

1. Synergy and Ethics 261
2. From Incarnation to Sacramentality: Synergy, Sacrament, and Ethics 269
3. From Synergy to Sacrament: Toward a Sacramental Counterpoint 275
4. The Slow Victory: Sacramentality in Counterpoint 283

Chapter 3
The Counterpoint of Liturgy and Ethics: Rewriting the Paradigmatic Last Chapter Diasporically 290

1. Theological Method as Relationally and Morally Accountable Mindscape 294
2. Sacrament as a Template of Relationality: Hybrid, Contrapuntal, Ethical 305
3. Liturgy and Ethics in Sacramental Counterpoint: Beyond Aestheticized Oblivion and Liturgical Pelagianism 310
4. The Sacramental Counterpoint as Theological Method in a Diasporic Imaginary: A Postcolonial Nuance 329

Coda 346

Bibliography 352

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