Sunday, August 26, 2012

The providence of proximity

[Life context note: Last weekend my wife and daughter moved back to our home state of Iowa, after four years of living in lovely Harrisonburg, Virginia. I'm hanging around H'burg for a few more months to finish my work at EMU before I join them. So this weekend, I had a lot of time on my hands, and...]

With said free time I read most of the essays in Jamie Smith's The Devil Reads Derrida. Man, what a great book! It is a collection periodic essays from 2002-'07, and it is exactly the kind of intellectual writing I try to here at Restorative Theology. (Albeit with much more modest intellectual capacities than Smith's...) Here is a Christian scholar who is committed to his intellectual craft for the sake of the church and the fidelity of the body of Christ and its place in God's mission in this creation. There's all kinds of underlines in this book I made yesterday, but this little passage is too good not to post. The opening paragraph of the chapter, "The Architecture of Altruism: On Loving Our Neighbor(hood)s":
When Jesus summarizes the "greatest commandment," it is a two-fold obligation that hinges on love: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart" and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27 echoing Lev. 19:18). It is intriguing to me that when Jesus points to the centrality of love, he also invokes a metaphor which is not familial (e.g. "brother" or "friend") or ethnic (e.g. "your people"), but almost geographical: we are to love the neighbor - the one next to us, who happens (by providence) to be in proximity. The neighbor could be a friend or an enemy, a foreigner or a brother. The call to love the neighbor is a call to love all of them - that is why all of Jesus' injunctions to love are taken up in the call to love the neighbor. (Emphasis added.)
This text also happened to be in the lectionary this weekend, so I heard it in the two church services I attended this weekend. (Hey...I was lonely and needed to be with my "first family.")

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