Baker Academic

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Community - Le Donne

I've been immersed, of late, in a project that considers early Christian solidarity. What does spiritual intimacy look like?  What was at stake with all of those exhortations for unity in the New Testament?  And what does this mean for the perceived outsiders - the folks who were alienated by Christian intimacy?  I must say that I have been deeply troubled (at times) by the polemical tones taken by the early Church.  It seems that the same intensity that engendered intimacy also created intense hostility for the broken relationships in the aftermath of Christian formation.  "Not peace, but a sword" it seems.  I've also been quite interested in how this intimacy evolved in several directions in the second and third centuries.  Gnostic Christianity took this intimacy/exclusivity to one extreme while "orthodox" Christianity took it to different sort of extreme.  But in both cases - and it may seem cliche to say it - the attempt to love one another comes with tremendous risks.

So when I read something like this, I am reminded how open we are to ruin when we fully invest in another person.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about the Brady family since Jim posted about the loss of their son a few days ago.  I can't even imagine... I recently lost someone close to me - a family member and mentor of mine - but nothing like this.

This leads me to wonder whether I will ever really appreciate tragic events like the Babylonian exile, the crucifixion, the destruction of the Temple, or the parting of the ways between Jewish and Christians.  Our collective identities, memories, sacraments, and spiritual foundations emerge from ruin.  Sometimes nothing short of total ruin creates space for true intimacy.  And of course this is small consolation, but it is all that we have.

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