Ritual Techniques: New Openings in Ritual and Liturgical Studies

Ritual Techniques in Affliction Rites and the Lutheran-Catholic ecumenical Liturgy of Lund, 2016





reconciliation, Lutheran, Catholic, Lund 2016


Protest and reconciliation rituals play a contested but important role in social change. This essay analyzes how rituals of reconciliation effectively negotiate between competing factions and norms by using ritual techniques as embodied symbols. Against the horizon of theory from Victor and Edith Turner and Cas Wepener, participant observation of the Lutheran and Catholic Joint Commemoration of the Reformation “Common Prayer” in Lund, Sweden on October 31, 2016 reveals five stages: crisis/diagnosis, redress, forgiveness and acceptance, binding, and reparative mission. Each is marked by its own characteristic techniques, whereas some symbolic elements manifest the different stages throughout the liturgy. This liturgy demonstrates how one liturgy can speak to various factions and stages in the process of accommodating a new norm (Christian unity) within a contested set of identities (“Lutheran” and “Catholic”). It is in the stages of forgiveness and binding that the relationship between the ritual-symbolic realm and the real work of social reconciliation is most directly visualized.

Author Biography

Kimberly Hope Belcher

Kimberly Hope Belcher is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, specializing in Liturgical Studies. She uses phenomenology, postcolonial thought, and ritual theory to study Christian worship and is active in U.S. Catholic-Protestant ecumenical dialogue. Her most recent book is Eucharist and Receptive Ecumenism: From Thanksgiving to Communion (Cambridge, 2020).





Ritual Techniques: New Openings in Ritual and Liturgical Studies