Rev Michael Barnes, 17/3/19

Lament a pathway to deconstruct the world

At a personal level, change is difficult and demanding; at a social level, much more so.

Most often, we adopt programs and strategies to help move toward desired goals. They are helpful but on their own usually prove ineffective.

It’s a strange fact of human history that the very things people determine to leave behind are often the things they eventually recreate. Disliking something is insufficient to ensure its removal.

This is because deeper patterns and dynamics are at play, within individuals and entire communities, and they need to be exposed before they can be reformed.

Lament uncovers these hidden forces. Lament allows us to feel, and feeling is at least as important as thinking. Feeling allows us to move beyond numbness and accommodation.

Many of the forces that limit and restrict human life work well because they render us numb and powerless.

Luke’s gospel records that Jesus lamented twice as he approached Jerusalem; in Luke 13: 31-35 and Luke 19: 41-44 ( the latter immediately following the joy elicited by the Palm Sunday procession).

During that procession, the Pharisees demanded of Jesus that he tone down his disciples’ celebrations (Lk 19:39, 40).

To feel is to rise high and fall low. Much in religion seeks to control and limit the range of human expression. However, we need all of it.

It makes us fully alive; and especially in this context, alive to the way in which largely invisible forces constrict human life, make injustice viable, and make it all appear utterly reasonable.

Lament allows us to see through this.

To reconstruct, we first need to deconstruct. The first step is not optional.


How might lament bring down institutions, dominant ideas, magnificent buildings…?