Thursday, June 05, 2014

Theology from Exile: Luke

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Theology from Exile: Commentary on the Revised Common Lectionary for an Emerging Christianity on Amazon

Gaia Rising, Sea Raven's blog

Many of my remarks about Sea Raven's commentary for RCL Year A, Matthew, also apply to this book about Luke's gospel.

About Exile in the book title:
Who are the exiles from the Church of Jesus Christ today? Those who have left the interventionist God of childhood far behind, who have set down roots in a latter-day Babylon, where new understandings about who Jesus was and what Jesus said reconstruct and transform the faith. These exiles ... find salvation in the awesome nature of the cosmos, and divinity revealed in all acts of compassionate justice.... [pp. 12-13 in the digital pdf edition]

On page 19: "Postmodern, post-enlightenment people cannot reconcile a changing, developing, evolving postmodern, post-enlightenment cosmology with traditional religious belief." Oh. I didn't realize that. I'm totally cool with a 3-layered universe (but what's a firmament?). Reminding myself and my readers that the Way of Jesus is comprehensive: political; economic; social; spiritual―and translatable, transferrable to any culture, because as did everything about all lives everywhere, it began incarnate in a particular culture. As SR observes [page 46], "The organizers of Christian tradition were masters of the appropriation of local cultural myth and metaphor."

Sea Raven frames her thoughts on the RCL texts by presenting the God of the bible as nonviolent, inclusive, oriented to distributive (rather than retributive) justice, and to deliverance. Sometimes I love the author's energetic explanations because so many of hers agree with mine, but then she apparently needs to let us know she is right because her theology is on the left, and her more "fundamentalist" siblings in Christ have it mostly wrong. Not left. This is the year 2014, and I'm definitely post-enlightenment and post-modern, but I also do mystery, paradox, ambiguity, and all those less than-logical, not-intellectual, non-physical dimensions of life and divinity and humanity quite well. But then again, at one point in the text, she acknowledges the ability to live with ambiguity and irresolution is a mark of spiritual and human maturity. But in her Trinity Sunday chapter, on page 117] she has it so correct that in this postmodern world, "Somehow the concept of 'grace' (charis – 'free gift') has become anything but 'free.'"

Luke is far and away my favorite of the four canonical gospels, so I approached this book with a more open heart and mind than I did the parallel Matthew volume. Of course Sea Raven "cherry-picks" her interpretations the same way the Revised Common Lectionary "elves" (name taken from Tolkien) choose their texts. And it's important to remember this series does not pretend or aspire to be of the same scope as (for example) Anchor or Interpreter's Bibles. Although I've participated in churches of differing traditions, all have been (progressive, liberal, etc.) relatively activist types who regularly reach out to their neighbors nearby and beyond, so I don't know for sure if Sea Raven's suggestions about more fundamental / conservative / evangelical scriptural interpretation are exaggerated, facetious, or not. Or what. Unlike in her Matthew, Raven includes propers for Reformation Day / Sunday in the main body of the book; she writes about Monday through Saturday of Holy Week in Appendix Two. In both Sea Raven's Matthew and Luke, I truly appreciated being able to read through and consider micro-commentaries on the entire church year by turning a couple hundred pages. I love that she included at least three passages describing the Eucharist from creationist Matthew Fox. She includes nice baptismal and eucharistic liturgies, as well; you easily could use them as-is, though In my own tradition I'd want to expand those somewhat. The conclusion to my review of SR's Matthew also applies to her Luke: "...Theology from Exile still is a useful, insight-filled resource; it's a keeper for my library!"

my amazon review: Sea Raven on Luke

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