Community 2

Continuing my ramblings on community.

Today’s complexity of being part of a community is that, it is less likely in an urban setting to belong exclusively to a single community. We are part of several networks. I have a family network, a church network, a friends network and so on. There might be overlaps but each network is different with its own sets of patterns and rituals.

Belonging to different communities simultaneously allows for great individual growth. No community can be too oppressive and the different communities engage the self in different ways. The banter and the humour of my Indian friends enrichens and fulfils me in a way that a church service can’t. But yet again, I am veering towards talking about the individual or rather framing this as the individual. Possibly the true way to talk of this is through conversation as the frame of engagement will be fundamentally different. Possibly this is why podcasts are so popular. Perhaps yet another one is in order.

So does this simultaneous belonging weaken and atrophy the communities we belong to? Or is there a sense where the different networks in some sense feed each other and keep things in a balance? How does the ‘us’ balance with the ‘I’? Or rather are the many ‘us-es’ somehow constituting the ‘I’? I blather on, but my fundamental question is how a community is meant to function in a way that is beneficial to those within, to itself and to those outside? I think this is an important question regarding church.

A model of agreed principles isn’t enough. And yet my framing of the question is possibly asking for precisely that. So if the question is problematic what has brought the question about? I think it’s the sense that there is a lack in our understanding and practice of community. The inability to fully name this lack coupled with a sense that there is something we can do to address this lack is what prompts these questions. So I shall ramble on. Or maybe start a conversation. Or a podcast

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Atonement in Scripture: Why Trump and Cruz Are the Direct, Logical Result of American Evangelical Theology

Some people might say oh this is American, however American Christianity is hugely influential around the world, so this must be looked at and engaged with. This is a reblogged post from elsewhere. Not mine.

New Humanity Institute

Donald Trump Delivers Convocation At Liberty University LYNCHBURG, VA – JANUARY 18: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers the convocation at the Vines Center on the campus of Liberty University January 18, 2016 in Lynchburg, Virginia. A billionaire real estate mogul and reality television personality, Trump addressed students and guests at the non-profit, private Christian university that was founded in 1971 by evangelical Southern Baptist televangelist Jerry Falwell. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Thirst for Retribution

‘How could this happen?’ bemoan some conservative evangelicals.  Titles abound, such as:  The Inexplicable Evangelical Support for Donald Trump.[1]  But the reality is far from inexplicable.  Noam Chomsky weighed in with an argument about economic inequality and working class whites, which I think has lots of validity.[2]  But the argument from economic inequality doesn’t explain everything – after all, why did Southern states refuse Obamacare?  Why don’t more Southerners vote for Bernie Sanders?  We are becoming…

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Christmas fragment 3

Christmas celebrates a this worldly God. This is a problem. Some find the fleshliness difficult. Others find God difficult. A this worldly God on close reflection is a constant challenge to our ideas of world and god.

After I wrote that sentence I realised that I did the classic act of reducing world and god to ideas. So I add: A this worldly God on close reflection is a constant challenge to our ideas and experiences of world and god.

A this worldly god is inevitably messy intricately weaving himself into our experience, our biases and our appropriations.

A this worldly god seems infinitely interpretable; he is part of each ones experience through all time, but a this worldly god is also frighteningly particular and singular for as a human creature he is limited to his body.

A this worldly God is a problem.

Christmas Fragment 2

Christians worship a refugee.

At a time when politically stable societies celebrate Christmas with family it’s worth remembering that Mary and Joseph suddenly had to move from Nazareth to Bethlehem and then a little while later flee to Egypt.

The Christmas story is inherently filled with instability and danger. From this place of confusion it looks outwards and says ‘Peace to all’.

Christmas Fragment 1

Christmas is messily materialistic. The Word became flesh. Blood, bodily fluids, wordless crying are at the heart of Christmas story. It is icky, joyful and fills the senses.

This is why with so many objects criss crossing the planet it fulfils part of the spirit of Christmas. The handling of the card, the wrapping of the gift, the prising of the plastic, the eating of food, the drinking of wine affirms our bodily humanity; for God affirms bodily humanity in its messy state by taking on a breathing, weeing, gurgling body.

A parable of talents

Once in the land of Naad three young people were sent away from their home, each to a different land. They were to learn of that land and come back with new skills and knowledge.

Three years passed; they came back and there was a feast to welcome them. At this joyous time the priests and the elders summoned the young ones to ask them of their journey. All became quiet as the first one spoke.

“I learnt of how things work. How to put together things. How to harness energy, how to make lights flash and how to programme machines so that they do our bidding.”

“Welcome!” cried the elders and priests, “enter into our community, use your gifts here, make money here, be part of the greatness of our people.”

The second one stood forward. “I learnt about the body and its diseases. I learnt of many cures, how to fix a broken nose and how to get nicer skin. I even learnt the strange art of ‘fitness regime’ so that we might never be ill again.”

“Welcome!” cried the elders and priests, (especially the ones who had a stinking cold), “enter into our community, use your gifts here, make money here, be part of the greatness of our people.”

The third one stood forward, eyes bright, countenance joyful. “I learnt of God. Who reaches out to us. I learnt about us. Who reach out to God. I learnt of many great things; of how to transform our lives, of new ways of doing our festivals, of ways to fight for justice as God would love us to do.”

There was a great silence. Then a small cough. A shuffle of feet.

One of the priests then cried out. “Diane!…Diane!”

Diane stepped out from the crowd.

“Diane, can you put this bright young thing on your ROTA?”