Friday, August 31, 2007

Many missed feasts; communities of prayer and remembrance

The beginning of the academic year has kept me from honoring the saints and feasts on this blog as I usually do, but as in all times when we cannot "do" (or cannot pray, which happens to all of us at some time) the broader community carries us in its wide stream. Padre Mickey was faithfully at his post, in fact twice, to write about Augustine, whose feast was this week. And just as I am about to teach Puritan sermons, we had the commemoration of John Bunyan, who was a great favorite of some of those early Anglo-Americans. (The class is not quite at the Puritans yet -- we are looking at the Native peoples first, and we did an initial segment on religious pluralism in the U.S. today and the post-9/11 religious situation before heading back to the 17th century this coming week. But more about this in another post, probably late in the weekend.) The commemoration that poured out of me almost verbatim was the post of two nights ago on the vigils remembering the war dead and witnessing for peace.

I am also deeply grateful to blogger friends who posted commemorations of and updates on the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and its impact on communities on the Gulf Coast -- and the communities' response.

There is power in remembering. (I'm thinking of janinsanfran's blogging label "gone but not forgotten.") And remembering, even --sometimes especially-- remembering with lament, can fuel hope. (I once referred to memory and hope as "the twin engines of biblical religion" in I can't remember which book. It's time for me to write another book, since I can't remember the last one verbatim! I always do for a few years after I write one.)

I have always had strong theologies of the Body of Christ and the communion of saints. Faith, prayer, and work for justice and healing in the world (what the Jewish tradition call tikkun olam, mending the world) cannot exist without the community across geographical and historical bounds. One of the challenges I encounter among my younger students especially (as opposed to the "adult" students who are closer to my age) is a deeply entrenched individualism. Communal thinking doesn't occur to them much. This is true of younger people and is true also of U.S. Americans, especially among Whites.

When the Holy Spirit shows up, it descends on the community. Always something good to remember.

P.S. I will fill in this post with the pertinent links later today. I have to go to meetings meetings meetings now. (On my alleged day out of the office. At least tomorrow will be an open day.)

P.P.S. Yes, there are cat pictures coming.

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