Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry
Ritual Reboot | January 2019

Ritual Reboot

Rituals are central structures for common worship, and they’ve certainly been subject to scrutiny, critique—even conflict—and change over the centuries of the church. In the January 2019 issue of Bearings, our featured contributors, Claire Dixon and Max Grant, share perspectives on the balance between retaining, reframing, and full-on rebooting religious rituals. In a remarkable photo essay, Emilio Bañuelos offers striking visual insight on how religious ritual shapes and is shaped by with wider contexts of life in a Mexican community. And, we’ve brought back a 2017 article from Hazel Cherry that explores the need for African American women to create new, affirming rituals. Finally. Elizabeth Drescher offers commentary on the challenge for religious communities of contributing to a “New Year Again in America.”

From the Editor

Ritual Reboot

Balancing Tradition and Change in the 21st-Century Church

Rituals are central structures for common worship, and they’ve certainly been subject to scrutiny, critique—even conflict—and change over the centuries of the church. In this issue of Bearings, our featured contributors, Claire Dixon, a 21-year-old Catholic college student, and Max Grant, a “more life experienced” UCC pastor, share perspectives on the balance between... Read more
Featured Article

Out with the Old, In with the New? Not So Fast!

Revitalizing the Work of the People

Our church has three regular worship services a week.   Two of them are in our smaller chapel space, have minimalist bulletins in lower case letters, pastors on barstools using iPads, Communion bread from the pop-up gluten-free bakery down the street, guitars and keyboards. The other service is your father’s Oldsmobile: it features a pastor in a robe with... Read more
Featured Article

Are Young Adults Over Traditional Religious Rituals? Maybe Not as Much as You Think!

For a while I didn’t understand why Hollywood was obsessed with creating horror movies based on Catholic traditions. From “The Exorcist” (1973), to “The Da Vinci Code” (2006), and “The Nun” (2018), Catholic tradition seems to be on the chopping block when it comes to tales of supernatural fear and trauma. I voiced my confusion, and my friend matter-of-factly said,... Read more
Creative Insights

Born to Believe

Ritual Visions from Mexico

In "Born to Believe," I reflect on the beliefs and rituals children inherit from previous generations as they attempt to express life’s importance as it occurs, and often when it is most out of control. At birth our religious choices are determined by our parents. For children in Mexico, where over 80% of the country is Catholic, this means that they will most... Read more

It’s a New Year Again in America

Truth-Telling as Christian Superpower

Some Bearings readers will remember (or may have read about) the 1984 Ronald Reagan campaign commercial to which my title refers, “Stronger, Better, Prouder,” or more popularly, “Morning in America.” The ad used images rendered in pastel hues and sweeping orchestral tones in emotionally evocative major chords to create a nostalgic, optimistic dreamscape of an... Read more
From Our Archives

Where Can I Run To?

Creating Sacred Space as a Black Woman

The 1990s R&B girl group, Xscape, has a famous song entitled “Who Can I Run To?” The song discusses the complexity of whom to rely on when one needs love. I can relate. I entered my thirties this year full of hope, only to be hit with three significant losses in a six-month time span. I lost the love of my life, then my job, and then my father passed. It... Read more