Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Community (Book) Chest

Hoo-boy...a box from Amazon arrived today.

This was an order that "just growed." I began by ordering the book Gathered and Sent, a sort of primer on the basic structure of Christian worship, by Karen Bockelman (Augsburg Fortress) for my lay ministry class' next retreat, next month. It's such a small book that it seemed a shame not to make the most of the shipping and handling, so I added two books by Marva J. Dawn, a theologian and church musician who's written some great stuff about the theology of worship. These two titles, though, go in somewhat different directions. Unfettered Hope: A Call to Faithful Living in an Affluent Society, which critiques the faith-killing "affluenza" of our time and place while reminding us of an alternative, countercultural way of living in the world. Truly the Community: Romans 12 and How to Be the Church is fairly self-explanatory.

As you can see, all these books have something to do with Christian community -- living with and interacting with other Christians, and engaging the wider culture as a group. And I will admit to you that I am struggling right now, again, with the paradox that what feels like the best place to be can also feel like the worst place to be. I know people who have been and who are at this moment being hurt, and hurt badly, by the institutional Church. I've had a recent run-in of my own with Christian luv that didn't exactly feel like a warm hug either. (Being indirectly labeled "demonic" by, say, some gibbering Fred-Phelpsian maniac isn't much of a surprise, and is actually a good touchstone that one is, in fact, one of the children of the Light; but when that adjective is quoted with seeming approval by a sane individual in a mainstream tradition, someone I thought of as a fairly friendly or at least benign online acquaintance, it's like getting kicked in the solar plexus.) Is this what "Christian community" is always like? I know what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would say: Wish-dream -- get over it. I think I know what Jesus would say: Following me -- get used to it. And then I wonder what peculiar flaw in my own psyche makes me so sensitive and defensive and unable to respond in a way that makes me feel like I'm doing or saying the right thing, and what to do about that.

Anyhow -- much reading ahead. And somewhere in between this I'm going to be writing some essays for Ordinary Time.

And...another book order en route: The Daily Prayer of the Church. I rather suspect this will be one of my refuges when "community" starts getting to me. Ironically.


LutherHen said...

LC--How about adding an "LC Reccommends" book list to your blog? I've yet to be disappointed in having read anything you've mentioned-- including those works noted in your Beliefnet posts. And, let us join together to thank God for small things: free shipping at Amazon, even to APO addresses! Happy reading! I envy your opportunity to settle in with a book and a warm blanket and a good cup of coffee-- I'm missing the cold weather as I contemplate the absurdity of using the air conditioner in January.

HereISit said...

Please keep us posted about the affluenza book. This is a subject that my dear one is reading up on lots -- and it is changing his life, and mine also.