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Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals: Weaving Together the Human and the Divine

Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals: Weaving Together the Human and the Divine

Herbert Anderson, Edward Foley

ISBN: 978-0-787-95926-5

Mar 2002, Jossey-Bass

224 pages



Bringing together two of our greatest sources of meaning and transformation

This book marries two partners that are made for each other. The result, as in all good unions, is mutual enrichment and deeper life.
--Jack Shea, author of Stories of God

Now available in paperback, this moving and enlightening book presents us with a compelling vision of what can happen when we take the opportunity to connect stories and rituals--a vision of individuals and communities transformed through a deeper sense of connection to our loved ones, our communities, and God. Herbert Anderson and Edward Foley reveal how when stories and rituals work together, they have the potential to be both mighty and dangerous--mighty in their ability to lift us up and help us make these connections beyond ourselves and dangerous in challenging us to learn to live with complexity and contradiction.

They show how much more meaningful a baptism, wedding, or funeral can be when liturgy is made to include and recognize the personal stories of those involved. Suddenly, these familiar life-cycle rituals are infused with new life as their participants become connected in a narrative web linking past and present, human and divine. Newly created rituals can also help us connect our stories to the divine story, giving meaning to what we experience and bringing us closer to God.

Ministers, worship leaders, and pastoral caregivers can use this approach to storytelling and ritual to find ways to bring together worship and pastoral care, diminishing fragmentation and fostering coherence in their religious communities.
Part One: Of Stories and Rituals.

1. The Power of Storytelling.

2. Ritualizing Our Stories.

3. Connecting Divine and Human Narratives.

Part Two: Milestones in Life Marked by Stories and Rituals.

4. Welcoming the Child.

5. Preparing for Marriage.

6. Encountering Death.

Part Three: Transforming Stories and Rituals.

7. Creating New Rituals.

8. Revitalizing Rituals with Stories.

9. Reconciling Stories and Rituals.
"If taken seriously, this book could mark a significant means for giving life and direction to an otherwise gray field. The book is not only rich in its use of a wide range of scholarly research, but also in its depth and maturity of thought. . . . This is a significant and groundbreaking work with enormous possible implications for the revitalization of our field. It deserves from us deep reflection, storytelling, and new ritual." (Religious Education)

"This text explores a variety of creative and necessary tensions inherent in effective pastoral ministry. Those dialectics include myth and parable, story and ritual, individual and community, pastoral care and worship, life and death, divinity and humanity. . . . Break[s] open rich possibilities for individual and communal spirituality and for meaningful ministry." (Religious Studies Review)

"A well-written book and offers great insight. . . .This book articulates the theoretical aspects of story and ritual and does not stop there. It also addresses contemporary concerns about life transitions that the church neglects to ritualize. . . . A valuable book." (The Clergy Journal)