exile

Reading Edward Said at Bible Study

Image via /Shutterstock.com

The intellectual in exile is someone who completely removes him or herself from a society, culture, belief, or way of thinking in order to fully examine it. Said says that exile is the only complete way to get an understanding of how something runs.

As long as you are a part of the machine, in other words, you are blind to some of its constructive, and destructive, features.

The intellectual in exile does not need to remove him or herself from a popular city. You can be an intellectual in exile in any major cities around the country. What’s required instead is to remove yourself from your typical thought process. Challenge things.

The intellectual in exile is happy being uncomfortable. This constant struggle encourages them to constantly develop, and not ever settle for what is easy or popular.

Yet it is still important to keep yourself in good community. Said also said, “No one is totally self-supporting, not even the greatest of free spirits.”

Marc Chagall’s Jesus Paintings Focus of Jewish Museum Exhibit

Marc Chagall with Solitude, 1933. Private collection. ©Archives Marc et Ida Chagall, Paris. Photo:RNS courtesy The Jewish Museum

At a moment when the world is flush with new books and ever-evolving interpretations of Jesus, one of the last century’s artistic masters is providing art lovers with a striking take on the first-century religious figure.

The first U.S. exhibition exploring the “darker works” of Marc Chagall (1887-1985) shows a Jewish artist obsessed with Jesus.

Chagall: Love, War, and Exile,” at The Jewish Museum in New York showcases the work of the Russian-French artist during World War II as he tried to make sense of a world gone mad.

Of particular interest are paintings depicting the crucified Jesus — depictions that are often read as metaphors not only for war but the particular expressions of Jewish suffering and persecution in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

The Church of the Long Haul

WHICH SCRIPTURES WILL our biases tempt us to sidestep this month? Perhaps 2 Timothy? Not usually the favorite of radicals. Whether actually written by Paul just before his death or worked up later by followers, the letter has a certain poignancy, suggesting the waning of Christianity’s pioneer phase. The church is in for the long haul. Its faith needs to find forms that can be transmitted across generations. It needs patient leadership that will be consistent in the face of inauthentic mutations of the gospel, religious imposters, and the distraction of futile controversies—hence the emphasis on sound teaching, the internalized treasure of the creed.

Let’s honor this recognition within scripture itself that the gospel needs institutions. The church must even risk banality in some of its teaching practices. A great interpreter of the Christian mystical tradition, Friedrich von Hügel, invites us to respect the way radical teachings have to be given forms that can be handled by regular folks, not geniuses. “Is there not a pathetic instruction in watching the insertion of the copper alloy into the pure gold ... that is, a metal sufficiently resistant to the clumsy handling of the multitude to be able to persist in the transmission of a value, and indeed a precise value, even though it be not the highest. There is surely a pathos here most thoroughly characteristic of the abiding limitations and homely needs of our poor humanity.”

Martin L. Smith is an Episcopal priest, author, preacher, and retreat leader.

[ October 6 ]
Faith Increased, Faith Infectious
Lamentations 1:1-6; Psalm 37:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10

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On Scripture: God's Return Policy

Debates on immigration in the United States continue to move in the default direction of North/South.  As such, the prominent debating points often direct public attention to the U.S./Mexico border fence and the Latina/o community. By sleight-of-hand, many in the mainstream media tend to recast a centuries-old U.S. immigration experience as a Latina/o problem. 

Unlike the variety of migration stories in the Bible, the forces creating migration for many Latina/o families are closely tied to the issues of power and hyper-consumerism. Often as a last resort do immigrant families enter the northbound currents of low-wage laborers that, as Bishop Minerva Carcaño describes, feed “the economic machine in this country.”

Flames of War and Peace

For decades the poetry and peace witness of Daniel Berrigan have touched the souls of people hungering to make change in the world. Now we can also be touched by the story of his life journey.

The following is excerpted from Berrigan's autobiography, published in October 1987. It covers a slice of his life during the Vietnam War years, spanning his exile from the Jesuit community as a result of his peace commitment, his work as a activist and professor at Cornell University, his rescue mission to Hanoi, and his participation in the burning of draft files at Catonsville, Maryland, an action which galvanized resistance to the war.

His words both affirm his deep conviction about peace and unfold the doubts and wrestlings that preceded his decision to join the Catonsville action. They speak deeply to all who want to walk with integrity in their journey to make peace. --The Editors

THERE WAS the Vietnam War. The war was to become an all but permanent horror, a kind of great salt machine in the sea, churning out tears, bitter unrest, and death, turning national life to a welter of sorrow and division.

The Cold War was sinking world temperature to a zero, the war in Vietnam was expanding more savagely.

Warmaking required no center; its reality was that of a machine, which we rightly call a war machine. And a machine has no center; it has parts, which are required only to mesh and move in gear.

The question for me, as peacemaking came to be a question, was one of soul, of center. The soul of peacemaking was simply the will to give one's life. As war sanctioned the taking of life, peacemaking must sanction the giving of life.

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