"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Contested Formation

Jesus Condemned to Death

See the complete set of paintings at Church's "Anti-War" Paintings Draw Fire

On this first Sunday of Advent, may we peer carefully into our hearts to discern whom we are allowing to form them. Just as the Eucharist knits us into the Body of Christ and breaks down the isolation and alienation of consumer culture, so we constantly need to be alert to those social forces readying us for the slaughter. In the words of James, "Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like a fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days...You have lived on the earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." James 5: 1-3, 5. The days of slaughter are upon us in Iraq. While churches looked the other way as Iraqis were offered up to knock a few cents off the gas price for our SUVs, we fatted our hearts. Our hearts grew encased in layer upon layer of lies and self-flattering images to which we gladly lent our ears and eyes. We know that we are being shaped, yet we are too flaccid to exercise the muscles that would form us in the image of Christ.

Most of us know where our real loyalty lies and it is not to the Church. In the words of a recent study, "...the church is (or should be) about being the new creation, a gathering of disciples that heralds the kingdom of God. As persons made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26), human beings ought not tbe formed into tools that serve lesser gods like the firm, but instead the full unfolding of the human person is realized in communion with Christ and the redemption of all creation. The church is meant to be God's social laboratory in the world, a prototype of human community that crosses all the world's divisions and holds together without killing and exploitation as its glue - as such it is meant to prefigure the kingdom of God, not a lean-production capitalist firm in which the few dominate and exploit the many inside and outside the firm." Michael Budde and Robert Brimlow, "Christianity Incorporated: How Big Business is Buying the Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2002.

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