Metaphors for Worship

Dissertation, Graduate Theological Union (1996)

In our modern world, in seminary curriculum, and in the minds of most clergy, the distance between liturgy and liturgical theology has been quite large. This is constantly reinforced as liturgical theologians go to great lengths to indicate how very distinct are the language and discourse used for each. The problem is that liturgy involves metaphor and imagination while liturgical theology is a critical enterprise. ;In Metaphors for Liturgy David Presley seeks to narrow the perceived gap between these two disciplines. Step by step, he invites us into a post-modern world where metaphor and imagination are the structures and tools of critical examination and where critical insights provide clarity by exposing dynamic human imperatives and predilections rather than by holding them at bay. He does not deny that there are differences between liturgy and liturgical theology but uncovers and affirms an underlying epistemological process which makes our understanding of them, and of most of the complex and rich experiences of life, possible. ;The basic wisdom for this process, that concepts are metaphorically structured and that many linguistic and epistemological concerns are best accounted for within a philosophical framework known as experiential realism, is rooted in the work of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson which began to be generally available with their Metaphors We Live By . The first chapter and many of the essential elements in the later development of Metaphors for Liturgy are devoted to exposition of Lakoff and Johnson's theory of metaphoric structuring. Chapter two deals with problems in how we see metaphor and in limitations to ways of knowing. Chapter three outlines a research method by which Presley examines six diverse, published, contemporary liturgical theologies for evidence of metaphoric structuring of concepts of worship and liturgy. These chapters constitute the first of the three parts of Metaphors for Liturgy. ;Part II reports the findings of the research and uses image schemata and experiential gestalts to indicate the functioning of the predominant metaphor discovered, LITURGY AS CONTAINER. Part III demonstrates the critical use of the methods with respect to that metaphor
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