Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Transfiguration of Politics

In an effort to forestall my sermon writing, I picked up a book from the library today that I've been meaning to read through for a while now. I really liked this:

"The Christ story is the story of the presence and power of Jesus of Nazareth in and over the ambiguity of power in human affairs. It tells in word and deed of the liberating limits and the renewing possibilities within which revolutionary promises and passions make room for the freedom to be and to stay human in the world. As the inaugurator of a "new age," the "age to come" in the midst of the "old age" the "age that is passing away," Jesus is a revolutionary, as surely as revolution and humanization, history and fulfillment, are inseparable from one another. The divisive, healing, transfigured, and transfiguring Christ is not to be despoiled as the model of a new humanity because of what has been made of him - pantocratic ruler, spiritual teacher and leader, demogogue, or social idealist. As the model of a new humanity, he involves us in the struggle for a new and human future. The way leads from a politics of confrontation to a politics of transfiguration and the transfiguration of politics."

- Paul Lehmann, The Transfiguration of Politics, 20.

I'm still working out what it means that Jesus "involves *us* in the struggle for a new and human future" without falling into some sort of understanding that human action brings about "the age to come" while we live in the midst of "the age that is passing away" despite the fact that the "new age" has already been inaugurated by Christ alone.  Lehmann says that revolution is "the lifestyle of truth" and nothing short of revolutionary action (whatever that might mean or look like, I don't know) is precisely what it means to "do" the truth according to the Gospel of John (5). So what does it mean to live in this way while still recognizing the distinction between divine and human action? I'm hoping he might answer some of these questions as I continue reading.


Frederick Froth said...

What kind of fantasy world do you "live" in?
The historical record shows unequivocally that the applied politics of the insitutional church in all times and places, and beginning from day one when insitutional Christianity was "offically" defined by the church fathers who won the culture wars of their time and place, has produced (and is still doing so, and will continue to do so) countless hundreds of millions of human corpses, oceans of blood, and filled the collective psyche of humankind with the ear-shattering blood-curdling screams of those being thus murdered.

And if you pretend that somehow after all of that INEVITABLE and continuing slaughter that everything is sudddenly going to become all hunky-dory sweetness and light because dimwits like you publish and feature this kind of soporific nonsense then you are "profoundly" and deeply deluded.

Applied Christian politics/history 101: by the fruits of their applied politics you will SURELY know them - let us PREY!

Kait Dugan said...

The fantasy world that you like to read, apparently.

Matthew Frost said...

Very Johannine. And the only way to get away from the concern that human action might be causative is simply to remember that it isn't so. Human action is always necessary in the world, but it is never sufficient. It only becomes good, in that Christ brings about the new creation and the Spirit shapes us into it.

Remember Nicodemus. And, for Lehmann's sake, that's also a useful illustration; "nikodemos" is a name that commemorates the "victorious people." And yet that victory cannot coopt Jesus; it is Jesus' revolutionary transformation that coopts the political pretense.

kilo papa said...

And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, "Brethren; love me, admire me, adore me. But please , for the love of Baal, stop with the dying for sins bullshit. It's fucking outrageous and makes us all look like a bunch of goddamn deluded Neanderthal fuck-tards!!
Truly I say unto you, 'You are embarrassing the absolute living fuck out of me with this blood sacrifice goat shit! Blood sacrifice!!!???? Are you all out of your goddamn fucking minds!!?"--Jesus H. Christ, the Gospel of Sanity.

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