Posted by: Dan | November 11, 2008

Tensions

I have been thinking about issues I struggle with, have struggled with for years, and expect to struggle with for the rest of my life. I thought I would write a few down here. I’d be interested in hearing the tensions others struggle with (either in the comments or on their own blogs) or how they resolve these ones. Here are a few of the definitive tensions in my own life and thought:

  1. The tension between (a) life as a form of cruciform dying and (b) life as the overcoming of death in the power of the resurrection Spirit (of course, one can resolve this propositionally by saying that one is empowered by the resurrection Spirit to live a cruciform life… but how this plays out in one’s day to day existence, that’s the catch!).
  2. The tension between (a) experiencing one’s own finitude, insignificance, and inability to do anything lasting or meaningful, and (b) recognising the sacredness, breath-taking value, and ‘weight of glory’ contained in every single person.
  3. The tension between (a) ‘rejoicing with those who rejoice’ and experiencing the peace of Christ, and (b) ‘mourning with those who mourn’ and experiencing the groanings of creation and the Spirit.
  4. The tension between (a) relying on God to create change within the world and (b) recognising that God has a habit of working through people to create these changes (this tension is especially manifested in the ways in which I go back and forth in my own practices of resting/receiving and working/sharing).
  5. The tension between (a) affirming a God who hears the cry of those who suffer and who acts on their behalf and (b) knowing so many who suffered and died abandoned by everybody and forsaken by God.
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Responses

  1. Appreciating / rejoicing at beauty or reacting to sin.
    E.g. “environmental” events that used lots of creativity and spark discussion, but are still done so in a way that are almost entirely cathartic. . .

  2. I don’t have any others to add at the moment, but I definitely resonate with these. Perhaps another would be the tension between (a) rightly grieving over my own shortcomings & sins; and (b) wallowing in (essentially proud) self-pity

  3. thank you for this post, it articulates many things I’ve been conscious of feeling lately as well.

  4. I once read a book with a great title, “The Quest For The Radical Middle” by Bill Jackson, an in depth look at the Vineyard movement. It focussed on the tension between the Word and the Spirit. Our Christian experience is all about tension.

    In response to tension no. 5 (b), it would be my understanding that in this present state of grace there is only one (and in my place) who has ever been forsaken of God…that is, Jesus.

  5. Thank you for this post.

    You are again reminding me that even if I were much smarter and read more deeply and more broadly, there are tensions that are more or less intrinsic to being a Christian. They are not magically going to be resolved around some imagined corner of heroic effort; they are, if anything, felt more keenly the further one ventures into the Christian life.

  6. yet, the work remains and must be tended. see for example the de-frocked Rev. Shannon from ‘Night of the Iguana,’ or the final epistles by Rabbi Kalonymus Shapira dug from the rubble of Warsaw. When i was working as a social therapy coordinator for the BPC (black prisoners caucus) in the Wash. St. prison system, i met a man (Charles) who spent his whole life in and out (drug-dealing, manslaughter etc) but he never missed Mass. always had a comment on the homily, cried over the daughter who never visits, etc. what got him thru each day was drinking. It’s not easy to be an alcoholic in prison, i admired his resourcefulness. He was prone to weepy repentance. His sincerity got him serially paroled for a few weeks every 2 or 3 yrs. kinda like a vacation. Anyway, he died in prison a few yrs. ago. In ‘Iguana,’ many tourists in mexico were initially comforted by knowing that their tour guide was a ‘Reverend.’ And to be fair, many of rev. Shannon’s (Richard Burton’s) sins were merely ‘statutory,’ so to speak,…still, I think he and Ava Gardner could have found some happiness together. Of course Rev. Shannon is no Rabbi Shapira, like Charles, Burton was prone to weepy repentance, and in the end cast’s away the golden crucifix. Rabbi Shapira, however, quotes from the Talmud (Hagigah 5b. I believe) something like ‘finding G-d weeping in the inner chamber’ if i recall. And of course it was some comfort to him to know, even at the death of his family, that the Torah was only revealed in exile. obliged, Daniel

  7. oh, p.s. to the above post and reply to the ‘3 books’ posts:

    “The fact that access to the written sign assures the sacred power of keeping existence operative within the trace and of knowing the general structure of the universe; that all clergies exercising political power or not, were constituted at the same time as writing and by the disposition of graphic power.” (Of Grammatology)

    intimidate
    verb
    Rico sent his goons to intimidate the local merchants frighten, menace, terrify, scare, terrorize, cow, dragoon, subdue; threaten, browbeat, bully, pressure, harass, harry, hassle, hound, torment, tyrannize, persecute; informal lean on, push around, bulldoze, railroad, twist someone’s arm, strong-arm.

    y’all don’t let yourselves be pushed around by those Frenchies!! Oh, and what about 3 movies in addition to books for those of us that watch TV and don’t read that much? obliged, daniel

  8. I posted something small in response and hope to have a couple follow-up post about the specific tensions that I see in my own life.

  9. add: the tension between waiting at home for the cable guy and saying goodbye to a friend who is going to find a doorway to sleep in.

    OR: coaching my son’s soccer team and being available to a relapsing friend.

    OR: going to my own home after spending the night with people smarter, harder working and probably nicer then me who have no place to live at all.


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