Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Last week, we finally got to the Anabaptists in my History of Christian Thought class. Yes, the class is called "The History of Christian Thought," a grand attempt to condense two thousand years of theology, politics, history, scandal and dissent into two semesters.

Given the enormity of the task, I can understand why the anabaptists only got 15 minutes. We're small, radical, definitely out of the mainstream. Future Methodist ministers don't necessarily need to know much about us. But as we moved on quickly to Calvin and concupisence, I realized just how much of an alien I am here. Yes, next week we will get to the Pietists, and I will have another ten minutes of elation. But when I leave class, things will return to normal, my world will still be one where no one understands what I am.

This weekend I was among Brethren, and I realized that all of these theological discussions about community and identity, all of this time and effort I've spent in argument and attempts at explanation...they are all direct results of being away from that community. When I'm among these people, so many things are simply understood. Of course communities have to be small. Of course pacifism and non-violence are the way. Of course our identity comes from our tradition, our shared histories and stories. Certainly living simply is the only way. Yes, our lives are shaped by commercial forces and the force of the church should work to counteract them.

It is easier, not having to defend yourself at every juncture. But convenience isn't what makes the biggest impression. Being with these people gives me strength to continue my own small attempt at living in another way. Their humility, simplicity, compassion, great courage, and commitment strengthen me. As life revolves around me, people, places, things and ideas spinning through my vision, I know that this community, these people in whom my identity is wrapped up...this is home.


Anonymous said...

ah to be in a brethren church! hopefully ill get that chance this sunday...and ill go alone, even. because even though this church isnt in roanoke, im sure ill see people i know. last week when i went to the ash wednesday service, everyone kept asking me if i was catholic and all i could say was 'no im brethren' and then when the 63264th person asked me to explain i just sighed and said 'im not trying to be rude, but ive explained this already 63263 times today, ill explain, later, okay?' it drives me insane having no one know. i just want to be at HOME and in a religious environment where people know and understand. ashley dooley is my only comfort here right now...but shes always busy when im not and im always busy when she isnt. argh. anyways, just wanted you to know that im RIGHT there with always! lil sis Leah

JESS said...

I think if we remember that we're rotating/spinning/...and the make up of the world is somewhat consistent...then those who love us never leave...or we never leave them...we just come and go. Like good times and bad times, like ecstacy and mundaneness and badness. Ebb and flow. Like the Tide.