April 22, 2009

Theater and Immanence

Back in the main post and comments section of Beyond Religion 101, I contradicted the assertion in Isaac's Coherence, Theater, God post that a religious approach to theater hinges on the coherence of a performance or text rather than its aliveness.

I initially answered by saying that it's a difficult thing to communicate at the drop of a hat, and that the best way to understand the mystical experience of theater is to, well, experience it.

But after a few days to think about it, I have a more coherent (ha-ha) response to the idea that a religious approach to theater is more about what it means than about what it is or does.

When a lot of people talk about the purpose of religion or the God experience, they often talk in terms of transcendence. Going back to Isaac's post, the coherence of theater is closer to a transcendent religious experience. You know that point where we've figured something out, that we know what it means, that we see how all the parts fit together? That's what I'm talking about.

But there's another God experience that often gets overlooked: immanence.

The aliveness of theater Isaac talks about is more closely linked to the immanent religious experience. Have you ever experienced the fullness of a moment, that feeling of wonder at the simplest and most ordinary things, that feeling of being overwhelmed at the vastness of existence. This is what I mean.

The scope of this blog is insufficient for a full exploration of these concepts. Entire religious traditions have been built around them. But at the very least, I hope that I've opened up a way to explore a different understanding of a religious approach to theater.

1 comment:

  1. Thou maketh much sense. (

    Practicing for tomorrows' "Talketh like Shakespeare day" nonsense.