Politics and Hope

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Man is a political animal. — Aristotle

The great political question, according to the philosophers of the enlightenment, was why would the individual give up her inherent liberty to another body, to an institution. Different theories arose, the social contract being the most dominant. But I think there is another reading possible: we come together, because we are hopeful, because we hope for a better life, a better world, a better future.

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Sermon Edition: Manifest in Human Life

This is the situation: a foreign people have moved into the land. They dress differently than you. They eat differently than you, and so they even smell differently than you. Some of the countrymen have taken it on themselves to oppose these foreigners, sometimes violently. And there is violence, back and forth, an unstable situation, with untold amounts of human suffering and misery. Now, given this week, this could be Paris, but in fact, it was also the same situation in first century Palestine. Only, of course, those foreigners were the ones in power, and some of the countrymen, the Jews, were complicit in the occupation, leading, of course, to more violence. The baptism of Jesus is situated in this situation, and it speaks to this situation and to human life, complicated with its politics, its ethics, and its symbols. Speaking of, let’s talk first about water here.

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Europe’s Scapegoat?

“The most daring provocations and the most shocking scandals have lost all power to provoke and shock. That does not mean that violence is no longer a threat; quite the contrary. The sacrificial system is virtually worn out, and that is why its inner workings are now exposed to view.” — Rene Girard, “Violence and the Sacred”

Are we unfazed by violence? When the news comes in from around the world and from our communities, we hear about the death of hundreds from war, the continuing destruction of ecological systems, the abuse of children, the implosion of marriages, and the struggles of the migrant, the disposed, and those in poverty. Are unfazed by this? Are we stirred to life? To action?

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Discipleship and the Supra-State

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“There is a wrong way of staying in the world and a wrong way of fleeing from it. In both cases we are fashioning ourselves according to the world.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What makes for a good disciple? What makes for a good citizen? In my earlier post, I commented on the nature of the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world. In this post, I want to narrow down the focus and try to describe discipleship that is occurring today, in light of the growth of the EU and its implications as a supra-national organization. I hope to explore the questions I’ve just posed, as well as a third: which identity comes first?

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The Ecumenical Project of Europe

“We are called to bethink ourselves of the Christian basics of Europe by forming a democratic model of governance which through reconciliation develops into a ‘community of peoples’ in freedom, equality, solidarity and peace and which is deeply rooted in Christian basic values.” — Robert Schuman

There are arguments for and against the “Christian” foundation of Europe. I am, for one, a supporter of the understanding that ‘Europe’ as a concept and as a project is deeply rooted in, as Schuman said, Christian basic values. Without the Judeo-Christian history unfolding in Europe, spreading itself across the continent and then the world, would such a unity or Union even be thinkable? But perhaps another important question, first addresses us: what is meant by Christian, since there are so many forms of Christianity across Europe itself?

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