Oh No it’s not - Oh Yes it is!Christmas Santa

It is just a few days before Christmas Day. It is common that between Christmas and New Year we get a feeling of disorientation. This is what social scientists call Liminality. It is not a common term; Word computer dictionary doesn’t even have it. A little red line appears under the word. 

Liminality is the state of being between two stages of life. Anthropologists use this for being in between beginning and ending parts of a rite of passage. During a rite of passage, people often leave the community for this period. The most obvious place this happens for us may be the honeymoon. You leave normal life single and return married.

Being between Christmas and New Year is the same thing and creates this feeling. Not only is there this weird disorientation but also social roles are often disrupted. So on the final night of the Autumn Term, at the big Christmas meal, staff at All Nations serve students as waiters, etc. The Pantomime is also an expression of this (oh no it’s not!). In Pantomime, the Dame is played by a man and the Hero is played by a young woman.

Returning to this weird Christmas/New Year feeling, we never really know what to do during this time. Eating more cannot be an option! Of course we go for walks…when it’s not pouring down. But we are at a loose end. We don’t really want to start any major project because New Year pops up just as you get going and other new projects force their way in. Writing blogs is a good activity that you can start and finish in this period!

So why are we waffling on about liminality? Apart from the fact that we are suffering from its effects. Well, this is a concept that can help us as we engage with contemporary society. Change is here to stay is a phrase we often use here at All Nations. Contemporary Western culture seems to delight in change. Nothing can stay the same. “Progress” or “Economic Growth” are lauded as vital where as “Static” or “Economic Stagnation” are the terms which seem most to be avoided. If you feel disorientated by the world, this may be one of the reasons.

This constant change means, that in some sense, society is suffering Anchorsome sort of liminal state constantly. Some people feel almost in culture shock in their own country. Change won’t go away. Part of our mission as the Church is to enable people, not only to cope with change but to embrace it and even generate change for the better. 

We can only really do this well when we do have an anchor to our lives. So we need to ask ourselves, where is our stability in a changing world?

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