Ars Ludendi: urban liturgies as public service in a secular world

M.C.M. Klomp

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Liturgy as art is one of the various particular relationships between liturgy and the arts. This article engages with “liturgy as public art” and addresses the question “how can urban liturgies be understood as public art in secularizing societies?” It presents three examples of contemporary “urban liturgies,” against the backdrop of the transfer and transformation of Christian liturgical forms and repertories from the church to the wider culture in post-Christian, post-secular Western societies. It then offers an anthropological interpretation of such liturgies, using the notion of play, but highlighting an aspect of play that has, so far, remained underexposed in liturgical studies. Afterwards, it unpacks how this anthropological interpretation is anchored in a Lutheran theological view of God as a playful God (deus ludens), which also gives theology a critical position vis-à-vis liturgical practices. The last section answers the central question by concluding that urban liturgies are alternative occasions that offer a playfield emphatically addressing and challenging people’s hermeneutic capacity to meaningfully deal with the sacred, thus inviting them into God's play. Offering playfields is how these urban liturgies serve the common good: they open up the possibility for people to be drawn into God's play. These liturgies are not just rituals—they are a public art: the art of playing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-119
Number of pages15
JournalStudia Liturgica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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