The Liturgical Offering of Boredom

  • Timothy P. O'Malley University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, USA
Keywords: liturgy, culture, festivity, boredom


Is there such a thing as a boring rite, or is boredom instead an affective experience of a subject? This article argues that nothing—including the post-conciliar rites of the Church—can be intrinsically boredom. Rather, boredom—or more clearly the refusal to undergo boredom—is a spiritual sickness of late modernity. The article begins with an analysis of the phenomenon of boredom with a particular focus on boredom in a digital ecology. The article then turns to the symptoms of boredom as examined by social and cultural theorists over the last decade including Zygmunt Bauman, Harmut Rosa, and Byung-Chul Han. Lastly, the article examines Romano Guardini's The Spirit of the Liturgy as providing a medicine against the kind of anti-festive culture that is the source of boredom in late modernity. Boredom is not a problem with a rite but with the self who has not yet learned to participate in the serious playfulness of the act of worship.


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