Variations on a Theme – Home (5)

I am closing in on a week of other-produced “Art” in a variety of forms. Today, I pulled a book off my shelf, Walter Brueggemann‘s Cadences of Home, noted all the “!” and “!!!” in the margins, and reflected that sometimes words written on a page in prose also connect to our pre-verbal and non-verbal parts.

Although Brueggemann is primarily writing about the situation of “exile” for the church in the U.S., what he says about “faith in exile,” particularly the “interfaces of the circumstances of exile and scriptural resources” is often true for those in exile because of loss / trauma / grief.  Exile in our current situation and in the Old Testament texts connect on these points, he says: “(1) loss of a structured, reliable ‘world’ where (2) treasured symbols of meaning are mocked and dismissed.” Here are the six points he offers on the interfaces (with scriptural resources and suggestions for “action” in parentheses):

  1. “Exiles must grieve their loss and express their resentful sadness about what was and now is not and will never again be”.  (Lamentations – forming “communities of honest sadness”)
  2. “Exile is an act of being orphaned…. There is no sure home, no old family place, no recognizable family food.”  (genealogies – situating selves in a “communion of saints”)
  3. “The most obvious reality and greatest threat to exiles is the power of despair… rooted in two ‘failures of faith'”: doubting God’s fidelity and God’s power.  (Isaiah 40-55 – receiving “the freedom of imagination to act ‘as’ a people headed ‘home.'”)
  4. “Exile is an experience of profaned absence.  The ‘absence of God’ is not only a personal, emotional sense, but a public, institutional awareness that ‘the glory has departed.'”  (recovering the sacramental in baptism, Sabbath, and tabernacle)
  5. “Exile is an experience of moral incongruity….  The cost of protecting God’s moral reliability is to take the blame for very large disorders.”  (Job – dealing with theodicy and fulling acknowledging “moral asymmetry”)
  6. “The danger in exile is to become so preoccupied with self that one cannot get outside one’s self to rethink, reimagine, and redescribe larger reality.”  (stories of Joseph, Esther, Daniel – engaging in “endlessly cunning, risky process of negotiation)

The wordy (my wordy) reflection on “home” here: Reflections on Home

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