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Liturgical Press

Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory

Political and Liturgical Theology in Dialogue

Bruce T. Morrill

Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory
Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory

ISBN: 9780814661833, 6183

Details: 240 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 04/01/2000

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What happens when the Christian community gathers in faithful response to Christ's command at the Last Supper, "Do this in remembrance of me"? Study of the biblical and early Christian notion of remembrance, the Greek word anamnesis, shows that the Church's ritual action of remembering our salvation in Christ not only inspires but demands action in the world. The problem remains, however, whether and how we are able to practice such remembering in our society today. This book explores the political theology of Johann Baptist Metz to discover injustice and the challenge and hope it poses to those who join in solidarity with the oppressed, and the work of liturgical theologian Alexander Schmemann, to elaborate on how, in its unique keeping of time, the liturgy reveals the kingdom of God and empowers believers thus to witness to it. The meeting of these two compelling theologies results in a rich eschatology: life shaped by the vision of a future that fulfills the promises of the past.

Morrill also marshals the work of many scholars concerning the concept of anamnesis which has proven crucial to the progress of ecumenical dialogues on Church order and the Eucharist. The effort is to understand how the Church's liturgical commemoration of God's salvific deeds in history, especially in Jesus, allows for neither a timeless form of religious piety nor a ritualism detached from the commerce of life in the world. A concluding investigation of the relationship between anamnesis and eschatology leads to further considerations about the dialectical character of the praxis of faith. Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory, while written in the field of systematic theology, offers a fresh perspective and framing of the issues for readers of Christian ethics and moral theology.

Chapters are "The Promise and Challenges in the Renewal of the Eucharistic Liturgy," "Johann Baptist Metz's Political Theology of the Subject," "Alexander Schmemann's Liturgical Theology: Joyous, Thankful Remembrance of the Kingdom of God," "Christian Memory: Anamnesis of Christ Jesus," and "Conclusion."

Bruce T. Morrill, SJ, holds the Edward A. Malloy Chair of Catholic Studies in the divinity school at Vanderbilt University where he is also Professor of Theological Studies. In addition to numerous journal articles, book chapters, and reviews, he has published several books, most recently Encountering Christ in the Eucharist: The Paschal Mystery in People, Word, and Sacrament (Paulist Press, 2012). His most recent book with liturgical Press is Divine Worship and Human Healing: Liturgical Theology at the Margins of Life and Death Pueblo/Liturgical Press, 2009).


Morrill's probing summary and analysis makes this a stimulating work. Liturgical theologians will find themselves appropriately stretched by Metz's challenges and reminded of Schmemann's (often trenchant) critiques; systematic theologians will find this a congenial way to enter into the craft of probing the church's lex orandi as a prime theological source . . . fascinating, challenging and stimulating.

Morrill has a provocative way with words, and a parish liturgy director or social justice committee member would find that the book opens new horizons, and provides new vocabulary, for their mutual dialogue. It is a mark of good writing to keep a book of such scholarship accessible to a wider audience.
Theology Today

. . . the results of [Morrill's] work should be widely read, being of great ecumenical importance and showing forth the practical importance and cross-disciplinary character of responsible theology in these late-modern times.
Gordon Lathrop, Schieren Professor of Liturgy, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

In a bold, creative move, Bruce Morrill brings political theology and Orthodoxy into a challenging and constructive engagement. He has persuasively argued that the Church's eucharistic liturgy, where the remembrance of the one victim is shown to be the prayerful remembrance of all victims, is a sacramental expression of Christian solidarity and the graced impulse to Christian praxis. The book represents a remarkable contribution both to liturgical theology and to fundamental theology.
William Reiser, S.J., Holy Cross College

In this well-written and engaging work, Morrill concludes that the Eucharist as a recovery of the Jewish covenant provides the normative understanding of genuine Christian memory.
Theological Studies