Delight. Resonance. Story. Rage.
And just like that…I seem to be able to focus for sustained periods of time, finishing several books when I thought I could not focus enough for one! I have had a nice balance of communal and solitary time in these Brian-pilgrimage-days, finding myself surprised to have coursed through several texts. The most significance rests in the work(s) of Andrew Root and Alicia Ostriker, so this post is to name gratitude, some observations…
Andrew Root’s Ministry in a Secular Age series will probably shape much of my mental landscape in the days to come. Brian expressed interest in my reading Root’s The Congregation in a Secular Age. Me being me, I couldn’t enter in without reading at least Volume 1 of the series on faith formation, and browsing Volume 2, focused on the pastor. Completing the text today was a startling gift of affirmation, confirmation.
Root follows the (Baker) academic formulation of an argument, with an analysis of our contemporary situation (congregations are depressed), followed by an argument for the main issue at play (time, acceleration), finishing up with a supposition of how to re-dress both (moving from relevance to resonance). He does all this within Charles Taylor’s project in The Secular Age and Sources of Self, leaning on another scholar (Hartmut Rosa) to structure his contributions. Like I said, much will percolate. The remarkable thing was where he ended up.
I’ve spent the last days reading this guy’s work, only to land where I began, well over a decade ago.
Artisanal Theology was all about the horizon of ultimate value: delight. An expressive delight able to companion the suffering of self and others. Then resonance is a fancy philosophical-phenomenological term to describe that could easily describe what happens in circle. When the energies of the human beings attune, there is a resonance of connection, belonging, companionship. And the vehicle Root names for transforming our functionalist obsessions in church today? Story.
There’s nothing quite as delight-full as recognizing more-than-one-of-us is receiving the exact same download from Spirit, inviting fullness, communion, grace.
The other deep gratitude arises with Alicia Ostriker’s The Nakedness of the Fathers (my used copy just arrived!). A Jewish feminist poet who found herself on a “train she could not get off” when beginning to write on Job one night. “How would Job’s wife feel about having the ten children who had been casually slain in order to test her husband’s devotion to his God, replaced by ten new children? I was immediately returned to a text I devoured earlier this year: The Buddha’s Wife: the Path of Awakening Together. My woman’s heart leapt in recognition of her words, her voice, even her rage and pain never even remotely considered.
Ostriker makes an argument for the truths of women present in scripture. I’m sitting with it, unsure...
What I do recognize is her words: these truths will only emerge when “women do their own reading, perform their own acts of discovery.”
For that, I’m in.