Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

"To be human in the light of the gospel is to face conflict in redemptive dialogue" (Yoder, 13).

I took the residential route to CAUMC tonight and it reminded me so much of Norwood -- the two-family houses with lawns....  I say this as a good thing.

It didn't feel all that much shorter but was in fact probably ten minutes faster.  I got to the church about five minutes of seven and actually asked the woman in the church office if it had been cancelled.  Turned out Trelawney and Eric were just running late (she said usually she's there at six-thirty).  She'd made a point to get vegetarian soup -- vegetarian vegetable soup, 'cause regular vegetable soup has chicken broth.  I noticed that the soup was tomato-based but didn't say anything 'cause I figured I could suck it up.  While I wouldn't say I actively liked it, I didn't mind it too much.  We also had grilled cheese and watermelon.  Nice.  [I've also gotta start having more filling lunches 'cause I came home hungry and made myself pasta+mushrooms+olives+pesto and was still hungry enough for that dinner at CAUMC and then I came home c. 10pm and had a yogurt.]

I'd worn long sleeves to work, but I got sweaty coming home plus I really wanted out of the bra I was wearing, so I changed into my Celebration t-shirt for CAUMC.  Trelawney loved it.


Session 1

I never did type up my notes from last week.

From the NYT article:
"When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses," Mr. Boyd preached. "When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross."


One woman asked: "So why NOT us? If we contain the wisdom and grace and love and creativity of Jesus, why shouldn't we be the ones involved in politics and setting laws?"
I can see how that second quotation could really rile a lot of people, but I get what she means and it ties into thoughts I've had for years about how religion informs personal ethics/morals (for religious people) so the church/state divide when it comes to individual politicians can be really difficult to enact... and it all gets very complicated and I haven't managed to articulate it yet, and tonight I need to sleep rather than wrestle with what would turn into an essay.

From Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community Before the Watching World by (John Howard Yoder (Herald Press, 2001):

He defines "polis" (from which we get the word "politic" and its derivatives but which can also be used more broadly) as a "structured social body" (viii).

He talks about two different approaches to worship and how it is supposed to affect a person, one of which is the "pietist" approach in which worship is supposed to change a person inside, which will then affect how they live in the world -- rather than using the church service to tell people what they should think/do about any given issue (ii).

"the will of God for human socialness as a whole is prefigured by the shape to which the Body of Christ is called.  Church and world are not two compartments under separate legislation or two institutions with contradictory assignments, but two levels of the pertinence of the same Lordship.  The people of God is called to be today what the world is called to be ultimately." (ix)

"To be political is to make decisions, to assign roles, and to distribute powers, and the Christian community cannot do otherwise than exercise these same functions, going about its business as a body." (ix)


Session 2

The first chapter of the book is "Binding and Loosing" and Yoder doesn't do a great job of explaining what the original he's working off of is all about before he extrapolates.  He quotes Matthew 18:15 and Matthew 18:18 but skipping the in between means one doesn't have a very good.  The dense following chapter talks about forgiveness, reconciliation, and conflict resolution.  After we'd read the chapter we looked at the full Biblical passage at my request and Trelawney explained/clarified how Yoder got from that passage to his ideas in the chapter we read (which she had already kind of summed up/highlighted after we'd read it, which I much appreciated).

Yoder expands on the passage to argue that any conflict, big or small, should be dealt with directly: starting with just the people involved, but bringing in the broader community if necessary.  He says the focus shouldn't be on punishing people but on getting conflicts resolved, even allowing for the possibility that "the community's standards [might need to be] modified" (5).  He says it's very important that this be voluntary -- "a voluntary community whose members have committed themselves to its standards and to its practice [and w]here we can pursue reconciling confrontation because we trust one another and because we asked to be placed under this kind of loving guidance" (5).  He mentions the "bands" of Wesley's time, which Trelawney elaborated on more: Wesley and a few others would meet weekly and talk about what sins they had been tempted by and strengthen each other and that this small group accountability spread and was the core of Methodism.

God would at the same time be acting "in, with, and under" that human activity.  When human and divine activity coincide in this way, that is what some denominations call a sacrament.  (1)

To "bind" in rabbinic usage is to respond to a question of ethical discernment: We still have the root in our word obligate.  To "loose" is to free from obligation: In the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had warned that whoever "looses" any commandment will be "the least in the kingdom."  Thus the activity has two dimensions: moral discernment and reconciliation.  (2)

According to Mosaic law (Num. 35:30, Deut. 17:6, 19:15, John 8:17), it took "two witnesses" to make a serious judicial deliberation valid.  Jesus said that the participants in this process of discernment and/or reconciliation are doing that when they come together in his name and "harmonize" (the verb is symphonein, which we recognize in the noun form "symphony").  This congregational procedure is, in other words, a counterpart of the way God authorized ancient Israel to deal with moral and legal matters.
     The same thought came up once before in Matthew's Gospel where Jesus gave his disciples the authority to bind and loose (16:9).  These are the only places where he used the word ecclesia, which we translate "church."  The original meaning of the word ecclesia is political: it is literally a "called meeting," an assembly, such as a town meeting, convened to do business, to deliberate on behalf of the entire society.  (2)
The stuff about forgiving people who haven't harmed you directly merits a lot more thinking.  I'm used to thinking of the scene where Jesus forgives someone's sin as one of those "evidence for Jesus' claim to divinity" scenes, but Yoder (3) points out that he passed on that function to the disciples: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (v. 23).  [That would be John 20:23.]

Yoder also argues that in the Matthew "if your brother or sister sins (against you)" the "against you" is "neither in the oldest manuscripts of Matthew nor in the parallel in Luke 17:3" (4).


At affirmations, Trelawney said that I was passionate about things and had a positive attitude about that passion.  [My shirt was her exemplar for that.]  She said it was infectious and also something else that I forget.  Given how I'm used to thinking of myself as such a negative person in a lot of respects (that I don't like anything is a running joke, and I problematize everything, etc.) this definitely triggered internal laughter, followed by thoughts about how we are different in different environments.  Being around HBS!Eric (and Terry) have definitely made me rethink my sense of myself as a negative person, so it isn't just the environment.

At dinner, Eric had asked me about Smith, and at affirmations he talked about how open I am, said something about there being "no barriers" in my talking about my life. Certainly most anyone who's ever looked at my LJ can attest to that, and probably ninety-five percent of the time I think it's a good thing.  This is one of those instances of my finding someone's perceptions based on limited interaction/information interesting, though, because I really haven't talked that much about me -- though thinking now, there's also the issue of how at ease someone seems sharing, even if they aren't actually sharing particularly intimate stuff (plus of course the fact that people have different thresholds of sharing comfort, so definitions of intimate/private/whatever vary).

For my own affirmation I talked about how I've been getting more involved in, well, life.  I've been spending time with friends recently, and I'm looking ahead to fall classes and further home-ifying of my apartment and more time with friends (Ari and Sarah, I totally read and responded to your posts shortly before heading out to CAUMC) plus of course I'm doing the bookstudy.

I got an invitation to their wedding.

Having looked at the map and it being fairly intuitive, I got to CAUMC with no wrong turns.  Coming home, though, I totally went the wrong direction on Chandler, so I ended up on Wallace looking at the Davis T Station and Orleans.  Oops.
Tags: church: caumc: ya group, church: caumc: ya group: body politics

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