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Feasts of memory: collective remembering, liturgical time travel and the actualisation of the past

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Author(s)

Joshua Luke Cockayne, Gideon Salter

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Abstract

How does religious liturgy connect participants to each other and to those that went before them thereby creating a living tradition that can span millennia? By drawing together insights from theology, psychology, and the philosophy of mind, we seek to explore the nature of communal remembering in religious rites. We begin by showing that the sense of memory used in Jewish and Christian Scriptures is much richer than mere fact recollection; to remember is to participate in the events of the past, to experience them as part of the narrative of a community’s present, and to fuel the community’s imagination about its future. Crucial to this corporate religious sense of memory is the concept of actualisation, in which some ritual or narrative allows the community to relive events of the past. We then argue that contemporary work on the psychology and philosophy of memory can help us to think about the application of these biblical senses of memory to contemporary practice.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-295
Number of pages20
JournalModern Theology
Volume37
Issue number2
Early online date15 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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