Published in  
April 3, 2018

Sacred activisms

When the notion of sacred activisms come to mind, the usual impression is that traditional activism interacts with and acknowledges the ‘spiritual’ in order to accomplish its set goals.

This is perhaps in the same way a car gets petrol in order to complete a trip, or in the way corporate practices have adopted yoga rituals to increase productivity and boost motivation. This binarization of the spiritual and the ordinary presumes that traditional activisms and related social justice practices are devoid of the sacred, awaiting some overt ritual in order to transmute the banal into the spiritual. Even more dangerously, it presupposes the fixity of our goals and objectives – making spirituality the mere means to already given ends.

When I think of sacred activisms, I think not of an added element intended to hasten a solution, but a redescription of the framework by which we make sense of what is problematic, what is agentic, what is useful and what haunts our earnest notions of justice. I think of questions that undermine our cherished questions, and riddles that trouble the structures by which we feel safe and ‘good’. I think of disruptions and eruptions, other senses of the otherwise, glimpses of power as self-involvement and the resourcefulness of not knowing what to do.

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Sacred activism is not activism + spirituality – not in an additive sense; it is what I call “post-activism”, or the kinds of commitments that invite us to ask new questions not only about what we are doing with the world but what the world is doing with us in the same gesture. In a posthuman relational world, the logic of the familiar is composted and the limitations involved in co-producing the ‘next’ are acknowledged. Rabbi Abraham Heschel notes that “to be spiritual is to be amazed.” It’s an important point to make – wonder corrodes fences and encourages transgressive boundary-crossing gestures. A sense of wonder infuses our ways of thinking about change, blowing it open to accommodate other modes of acting and becoming – making new capacities possible. This is what I think a sacred activism mode of engagement affords us: ‘new’ ways of meeting the universes that shake us from our firm tethering to victory.