Sunday, December 04, 2005

California: Anomie - Anchors - Attachments

Edited some for desert spirit's fire! from my original on currently inactive blogspot this far by faith.

From The Road to Daybreak by Henri J. M. Nouwen:
[California] is a land to which people go to be free from tradition, constraints, and an oppressive history. But the price for this freedom is high: individualism, competition, rootlessness, and frequently loneliness and a sense of being lost. {page 198}

Freedom from tradition and constraints, but at a price... rootlessness:again I'll cite myself—I've posted this or something comparable several places, so I won't link to it:
Feeling rootless is part of the nature and reality of living the gospel; exactly like the Israelites of the Exodus, in Jesus Christ we live in the precariousness of nomadic, unsettled existence, daily undergoing baptism's departure from that old life and entrance into the new, each day recalling and reliving the perilous and risk-filled underwater moment in that watery font of death that at the same time is sustaining womb of new life, the fragile instant we need totally to trust the baptizer, who represents God, the One Who really baptizes.

California Counties mapThe early church baptized in the flowing water of a river: just as every life moment is different, you can't step into the same river more than once! Living baptized means balanced on the threshold between our old lives of slavery to sin and self and our new lives of Eastered freedom for others, and living baptized means some times we also fleetingly experience the fullness of gospeled community. Many times I've pointed out for Israel the River Jordan had been the barrier separating them from the Promised Land and then became the boundary and border of their Promise Landed lives. Likewise, for us, baptism keeps defining us as different from those outside the community of the church at the same time baptism is an event that counts us into the covenanted people of God of all generations. Paul / Saul addresses his letter to the Corinthian Church "...together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours! Wherever we go we can find an assembly of Christians who call Jesus Lord, so we always can continue journeying together.

As I assess my history once more, I realize what little support it takes for me to feel alive again; I enjoyed Thanksgiving 2005 dinner and the afternoon with friends; I felt whole and well at their house and back at my own place afterwards. However, by Friday, the day after, doubts, lonesomeness and devastation came back ultra-big-time. Nouwen mentions loneliness and lostness, which still is exactly where I remain. My desire to find something, anything, to wipe out most of the memories is back, too. But returning to this blog's title: California: Anomie, Anchors and Attachments.

I've said just a tad about California, Land o'Gold, so on to a-nomen, not-of-the-law anomie. You may remember studying Sociology with its trilogy of morose-looking practitioners: Émile Durkheim; Max Weber, and Karl Marx? In addition to what I learned about him in sociology classes, not surprisingly my economics curriculum included a semester-long course on Marx. But regarding anomie and anomic, currently I'm living Clairemont, the section of San Diego that at one time (maybe through the 1950s?) was a leading New Town, and the near-anonymity this part of the city now bestows on its residents is one of Clairemont's interesting aspects. As an example, some of the 9/11 terrorists lived in an apartment building not far from my residence and carried on their planning under their immediate neighbors' non-watchful eyes—that's very "Clairemont." When I lived and served in Dorchester, Massachusetts, one time I was on the subway from downtown, a stranger looked intently at me and commented on the Dorchester 3-decker houses t-shirt I was wearing: "I wouldn't advertise it!" Just maybe Living in Clairemont isn't much more something to broadcast than Living in Dorchester was? Still is?

Too often I think of but rarely speak about my sense of desolation in unaccountably losing the work and the relationships that literally defined me and absolutely helped anchor my life. The usual theo-speak insists Jesus Christ, our solid rock that never sinks, anchors us, whatever the storm. But better theology – particularly New Testament theology – insists the Church is the body of the Risen Christ and the local assembly of saints is a huge part of the evidence Jesus lives! My way-too-infrequent experiences of belonging have been too fragile and far too fleeting for comfort. Okay, so it's not about comfort, but how can a person function at all without a minimal level of being comfortably at home? In other words, no longer lost?

I wonder what to make of this concluding paragraph to my original post? How does it fit in with the rest of what I've written?

The God of Christianity—God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God of the Hebrew prophets, God and Father of Jesus Christ, self-reveals as a God of passionate attachments—to creation, and particularly to the people of his creation. God creates us in the Image of the Divine, and calls us to live up to the amazing image of fully alive people who jump into life with all four feet!

No comments: