Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Duloc is a perfect place.

So for this essay I have to hand in tomorrow, I've been looking at a number of early modern Christian texts and ideas. It's thought-provoking. On the one hand, many of the writers and people of that time are incredibly inspiring: I feel like their seriousness about things that matter, their delight in things that truly are wonderful, their utter humble awe and deep devotion for God and their carefulness with private and social obedience leave me with a lot to match. On the other hand, some of the prevailing attitudes (seen in their own writings and actions, not the caricatures, which I know are largely false) of the heroes of those centuries seem not to be necessary or helpful--even if really sincere--or to be things that we would want to take up in our living and our culture. And some things are just unbelievable.

But I always feel wary of how influenced we are by our culture. If such godly people (many really seem genuine and admirable in many ways) in different times are so sure, then how much of that feeling comes from my context? How much from the Bible? The issue of interpretation can be difficult, with something that's intended as such a blessing of absolute truth and authority for us. I guess it's just important to know how to live as real people in a real world, and not to use the concept of the 'spiritual' as our weapon and shield when we should be relying instead on God himself, who makes so many good things free and safe (how much I've had to learn this!); but we also need to really be a lot more careful and deliberate than we often are, and sometimes make some harder calls than we do, now so afraid as we are of losing the liberty we feel we've recently reclaimed.

It all comes down to an awareness of real grace; it's also a cultural thing. I love that I know so many people within my culture who do life pretty well with God and people. But realistically, there are still so many areas now that seem grey--and you can make decisions about what's helpful or not so for yourself, but then when others call you to make a standard for them (or to decide you shouldn't, with all the implications of that), and also to justify why what you value and do is important, it becomes much more complicated. Then you can think you have it right, but look again and realise you're missing things in your blind spots. I love what I've already seen of grace in community, but I also don't think we can ignore the helpful mirror in the lessons and values of our heritage. You certainly can't just discard it, or read it through a modern glass without really making sure.

I'm going to need to keep thinking about this one.

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