Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Re-finding Stability

Bishop Marc recently posted about the need for stability in light of the Benedictine tradition, and John Kirkley over at mediatio offers his thoughts, particularly in a global context.

This brought to mind Belle Mickelson's sermon this past Sunday here at Church of Our Saviour, and how much our era of globalization and hyper-mobility have wreaked havoc on indigenous people who are anchored not only to particular communities, but particular landscapes and ways of life.

This presents a profound challenge to the 21st-century Christian and our communities of faith and how we establish ourselves as a people rooted in Christ.

Lest we forget, as itinerant as he was, Jesus was very much rooted to place, culture, and a people. It has been tempting for me to excuse our highly mobile culture as a witness to "The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." But there is a troubling downside to extolling the virtues of hyper-mobility over and against the staid and steady lives of our spiritual ancestors, and it has to do with the now marginalized peoples both in our midst and at the edges of our geography -- peoples who have stayed in place while market forces have reshaped their lands and communities of birth. Peoples whose ways of life and cultures are endangered by the machinery of global capitalism.

I wonder if there is a way to temper globalization to protect such societies, and how we as a Church can better advocate for their needs in the midst of a rapidly changing world. This will be one of our pressing projects for ministry and discernment as we move forward.

This was also a sense that was articulated in Barbara Brown Taylor's recent book, Leaving Church, particularly as she narrates about her family "homesteading" and her husband's close engagement with indigenous Americans, and how her journey from a frenetic spirituality towards a more centered one was deeply nurtured by their witness out of their unique traditions connected with the earth and ancestors.

For those of us with privilege in the North American context, there is a growing sense of wayward rootlessness. We do not know our neighbors. We meander through life with a terrible sense of not knowing where we are headed and a diminished sense of where we have come from. Our life becomes centered around transience, jet-setting, and the diminishing of the earth and each other to mere utilitarian function. That now poses a very real threat to all life on the planet.

I feel very much in myself a renewed call towards a Rule of Life that bounds my place of ministry and allows me and my family to put down roots, till the earth -- both metaphorical and incarnate -- and to generate growth for the Reign of God in a particular location with a particular people. Our spiritual practices constructed around a Rule and a sense of place may, indeed, be a nurturing key for reaching out and healing this age of ours. And it may well have something to do with easing the stresses and dangers of contemporary lifestyles.

Much to pray on.

1 comment:

Adam Jacob said...

Much wisdom here...

As a wheelchair user, I find myself depending on the advancements of modernity and hoping for even greater levels of access in the future, most of which require technological innovation and increased systemitization of society. However, I personally long for a simpler life, with my own land and my own people, whatever that might look like. And I find that the more opportunity there is for me, the more complicated my life becomes, and I don't like it.

I think we all face a similar paradox, particularly as followers of Christ.