"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

PHoC -- chapter 6

In the final chapter of the Medieval section, the author again addresses the topic of who is my neighbor. Compare it with this topic discussed in the section on the Early Church.

"No medieval person questioned Jesus's teaching that love for one's neighbor was a necessary part of a holy life. However, they were not always sure who counted as their neighbor. The lawyer's question, 'Who is my neighbor?' was perhaps one of the most troubling ethical questions of the Middle Ages" (pg. 122). The author explained how people then believed "the universe consisted of a Great Chain of Being stretching from heaven through earth down to the lower ranks of hell." The question became what to do about those not baptized or those who rejected their baptisms? Were there also "neighbors" who must be loved?

Jews and Muslims as neighbors -- At one time the three Abrahamic faiths lived in relative peace and toleration in Spain during the convivencia.

The Cosmos as neighborhood -- Author discusses the popular brand of North American dispensationalism and how the supposed Rapture is often considered "escapist" because people who adhere to this theology don't work for social justice. Christians on the other side of the spectrum interpret "apocalyptic stories as optimistic -- as a vision of what the world can be, stories meant to motivate God's people toward a deeper engagement with justice" (pg. 128). The author says most people do not consider that the way we "understand cosmic history has a direct impact on how we practice justice" (pg. 131). My impression from reading her words -- Those who believe the rapture/Tim LaHaye-type of end times tend to have a doom-and-gloom mentality of the end of the world so they don't take social justice seriously.They figure it's all going to be bad so why bother. It's almost a giving-up-on-this-life mentality and please,-Lord,-rapture-us-out-of-this-mess hope that keeps us from doing what we can to better the world.

The remainder of the chapter dealt with enemies, animals and outcasts as neighbors. I thought the animals part was a bit bizarre until I realized where she was coming from. And I did like this part from that section:

"In a very real sense, creatures and creation exist as the ultimate teachers of holy poverty. Animals, birds, trees, flowers, and plants own nothing. Yet, as Jesus explained, they completely depend on God and at the same time are profoundly beautiful; 'I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these' (Matt. 6:29)." -- pg. 138

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