Monday, March 12, 2007

An Adulterous Generation

Sometimes when I am reading a book an author will say something which strikes me as a window into their heart, their soul, their cherished belief. It seems to me that Stanley Hauerwas made such a statment in his commentary on Matthew when he was speaking about Yoder, the author of The Politics of Jesus, and was saying that he thinks one of the greatest tasks before the church today may be to encourage and house prophets. He apparently reveres Yoder as something of a prophet and it seems he also selects Wendell Berry for some of the same reasons. He quotes Wendell Berry who writes:

"This is true both literally and figuratively: The dominant tendency of our age is the breaking of faith and the making of divisions among things that once were joined. This story obviously must be told by somebody...But how has it been told, and how ought it to be told?...The story can be told in a way that clarifies, that makes imaginable and compassionable, the suffering and the costs; or it can be told in a way that seems to grant an easy permission and absolution to adultery and divorce. (Berry 2000, 133-34)." - from Life is A Miracle.

By the way, I have about about four Wendell Berry books including this one. One I put in my church library that was recommended by the emergent village reading list. I thought it very good with excellent things to say about Christians and the environment and the economy and in supporting local farms,etc. and overall a hardy and wholesome contribution toward a good turn in the road that I hope we will all have contributed to in the end when all is said and done.

Someone else I think was something of a prophet in terms of one with deep perception of the signs of the time was the poet and literary critic of the late Victorian era, Matthew Arnold. A line which seemed to capture something of the same thing to which Berry is referring to in the quote above is taken from his poem "To Marguerite," or at least it struck me that way when I read it:

"Or if not quite alone, yet they
Which touch thee are unmating things-

...Of happier men!- for they, at least,
Have dream'd two human hearts might blend
In one, and were through faith released
From isolation without end..."

Bummer. Arnold was in the processing of "losing his religion" so he didn't have for instance the strength of my friend Isaac who remains strong spirited even in bodily weakness and with the prospect of death. But what I was focusing on is not so much Arnold's melancholy merely but what it evoked at least in me of a sense of the character of the age, an adulterous age that finds it hard to even conceive of the desirabilty of lifelong, conjugal love.The prevailing philosophy has obscured the good and we need good philosophy to help articulate the case for everlasting love. But more than that we need the blood of Christ and our faithful Lord to lean upon along the Way.

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