Experiment rond de Tafel. Over Willem Barnards Onderzoek van het Sacramentele

  • Eward Postma
Keywords: Sacramentality, drama, creativity, liturgical performance, community, participation


The Dutch poet, minister and essayist Willem Barnard (1920–2010) greatly contributed to the artistic and theological exploration of fundamental questions on sacramentality. This article concentrates on the way Barnard addresses the paradox that sacraments are human acts. It starts out from his explorations of religious drama and argues that they are in Barnards works a key to a sacramentality, in particular of the Eucharist, that is intentionally performed, embodied and experienced. Central to Barnards explorations and a stimulus for his further theological reflection is the establishment of a ‘sacramental lab’ in the 1950’s (‘Nocturnen’). Barnard thus develops a concept of liturgy as ‘drama’ that includes theological reflection on ‘community’, ‘participation’ and the making of liturgical rituals. Moreover, the artistic perspective of drama enables him to thematize both the continuity and discontinuity between God’s acts and human acts.