Communitas: Now That's Religion!

When one of my previous posts "Jesus the Ordinary" received a strong rebuttal from one source, this was my response.....

Thanks Sharon. Yours may very well be the true perspective. That's the beauty of our Uniting Church. I'm biased of course but there is so much about us - even without realising it perhaps - that I think embodies healthy religion.

Here, my understanding of religion (literally "to rebind") has been influenced deeply by the philosopher James Carse. Carse argues (and this is a gross simplification of his argument) that religion is "communitas" - the gathering of a people around a central story and the generation of "positive argument" around that story. This means an argument which can never be resolved, but which, by its very unresolvable nature keeps the story alive and widening nets of people engaged with each other. For us, our "central story" is the Christ story and our "rebinding" role is to keep the positive argument about the Christ underway.

This Christ story is the truth for us about how the cosmos works. It tells us that the wholeness of God is revealed in the "suffering" or "humble" or "non-blaming" servant (we'd use different words depending on our understanding of the Christ but I am going to be so bold as to suggest there is at least some commonality of understanding in the words I have chosen).

Most of us in the Uniting Church have moved some considerable way past debates on biblical literalism. So there's now space to engage the "positive argument" about Jesus and his part in the Christ story. On one hand our understanding might be of a theistic entity acting decisively in Jesus - God becomes human, God dies, God demonstrates the Godly place. God "enters" Jesus to create the Christ.

On the other hand, when earthly vessels are deeply "present" to the hints about God in the world - hints about the mysterious source of life - perhaps they all embody the Christ. In this understanding, Jesus worked out how to continuously get little Jesus out of the way and let the Christ through.

Based on my life experience, mine is now more of the latter understanding.

It's beautiful to be able to have the conversation. It's even more beautiful to admit that I might be wrong.

How humbling....... And in that humility a realisation ...that all I can do is continue the conversation ...the relationship .....the re-binding.

Now that's religion!

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