Greetings, friends, on this Easter Monday! It is the fourth Monday of the month and time for our RevGalBookPals' discussion of Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter.
When we began considering a book for the day after the most important event in the church year, we wanted to find something that would be appropriate for the season of Lent, but also something we could discuss after Easter. This book of essays and poems seemed like a good possibility, and I hope those of you who read it were able to find some points of connection. It includes a wide array of writers, some of whom are women, although it contains a fairly large number of deceased white males. I found the theology being expressed, on the whole, tended to be orthodox, but your mileage may vary.
There were definitely essays with which I found myself in disagreement, particularly where atonement theology is concerned. I imagine if this were not the day after Easter, we could foment a debate on fine theological points. But given that we try to be as inclusive as possible here, and that we may be feeling limp this Monday, I thought I would mention a few of the pieces that touched me particularly and invite you to do the same in the comments.
"Followers, Not Admirers" -- Soren Kierkegaard
I love Kierkegaard's contrast between those who are admirers of Jesus and those who are actually followers, particularly the idea that really following will irritate the admirers! Do we not see this in church all the time?
"Truth to Tell" -- Barbara Brown Taylor
This essay is full of quotable quotes, the kind that cause you to wince. Here's one:
A cross and nails are not always necessary. There are a thousand ways to kill him, some of them as obvious as choosing where you will stand when the showdown between the weak and the strong comes along, others of them as subtle as keeping your mouth shut when someone asks you if you know him.
"Remember Her" -- Ernesto Cardenal
Cardenal records the reflections of a worship group in Lake Nicaragua on the story of the anointing women. I am pretty sure I've read some of this piece before, perhaps in the book "The Women Around Jesus," but since the book is at the office, and I am at home, I can't confirm this. I love everything about their discussion, including the natural conflating of the various gospel accounts of the woman who anoints Jesus. My perspective (my big exegesis paper in seminary plumbed the depths of the Mark pericope) differs from and is enriched by all the comments from Cardenal's group, whether I like them or not!
"God the Rebel" -- G.K. Chesterton
Jesus as insurgent: it's a politically lively notion in our current climate, isn't it? I think it's hard for nice church-going folk to hold onto that picture of our Savior, and I appreciate Chesterton's exploration of the idea of God in rebellion against God's own self.
"The Cross and the Cellar" -- Morton T. Kelsey
Kelsey explores what resides in our depths and much of what he says resonates with me. Along with several other writers in this collection, he points out that the people who participated in Jesus' trial and execution were ordinary, more like us than not.
The cross symbolizes what ordinary people do when they fail to see the monsters dwelling deep within their lives.
I expect to continue pondering this one long after Easter.
"A Cosmic Cross" -- Paul Tillich
Now, you knew your UCC gal would go for Tillich, didn't you? ;-)
I very much relate to Tillich's "ground of all being" view of God. As he explores the idea of the shaking of the ground in the earthquake at the crucifixion, he reminds us that we are not saved for material security but for re-imagining what grounds us: the self-surrendering love of God.
"The Greatest Drama" -- Dorothy Sayers
In the section on the Resurrection, there are a number of essays that assert the bodily resurrection, and belief in it, as an absolute necessity. I was about to get tired of the book when I reached Sayers and read this:
"...it was not that old, limited, mortal body, though it was recognizably like it."
She loosens the terms just enough for movement and grace rather than insisting on locking down the Christian mind to thinking in one way only. I like that.
"Waiting for Judas" -- Madeleine L'Engle
I won't repeat the Judas story she tells but will simply encourage you to read it. It's one of the most hopeful things I've ever heard.
"The Feast of Freedom" -- Jurgen Moltmann
The final section of the book, "New Life," seemed weak to me, or perhaps restricting. So it's probably not surprising that the one essay I wanted to highlight is about freedom! Moltmann encourages us to revolt against the powers of death, in forms ranging from the obvious (hunger and oppression) to the more subtle, described as "the soundless death of the apathetic soul." He urges us to see that our faith contains two parts, both a protest against death and a freedom from death. We must resist the powers of death as conceived by humankind (again, both collective and personal) while at the same time celebrating that death has no power over us. Isn't it much easier to focus on one at a time? We might devote ourselves to social action, as the former, or we might spend our time worshiping and giving thanks that death has no more sting, but really, we need to embrace both. (That may be over-simplifying, but I hope it gives some idea of Moltmann's point.)
Those are my favorite essays from the book. What touched, provoked, challenged or inspired you? I hope you'll leave a comment and tell us.