Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Political Side

I have announced my intention to make this a site for the discsussion of the intersection of Christian faith and everyday life. One of the obvious points of intersection of those two concerns (and I'm trying hard wth this enterprise to argue that there is no "intersection," but rather that Christian faith is a matter of everyday living -- but today, we'll accept "intersection") is the realm of politics. And one can hardly think of "religion" and "politics" without raising two journals: First Things is Richard John Neuhaus' distinctly right-leaning journal and comes at matters from a distinctly progressive-prophetic posture. The two couldn't be more different -- and I must say honestly that I much prefer the company of Jim Wallis (Sojourners' executive director) than RJN. The snideness and political bias of First Things I find galling; the evangelical fervor of Sojourners overcomes, for me, the hint of political bias. (Note for the record, I neither intend nor want this blog to become a politics forum. I am a political independent, but I confess to a kind of knee-jerk socialist-progressive, pro-life, non-violence agenda. That results from my reading Abraham Josuha Heschel's fabulous two-volume work The Prophets and the encouragement of numerous friends. But I don't intend to campaign through this blog. Read my law signs if you want to know whom I support.) Both offer on-line access to resources -- Sojourners fellowing is at, and First Things, at\.

In any event, it seems appropriate for me to solicit other resources that are available on-line. I seek my own edification, primarily. But who knows: Once I get into the swing of things (with Sister Dash's help), I may list links to such resources. For now, though, why not contribute a Comment (and make it look like I have a great community linked here.)

One thing about the Sojourners site is that it affords you the chance to subscribe their e-mail newsletter (weekly and free of charge). It's full of good stuff from which to pick and choose.



Anonymous said...

The New Pantagruel is cool.

I like your blog! Congrats on starting one.

Jennifer (found you via Camassia)

Anonymous said...

Declaring an 8-year-old's communion invalidThis story in particular got my perstinacles up in a bundie!

Dwight P. said...

Dash, dear Sister, you are tempting me into my ranting, Protestant mode, which overcomes me about once a year. While I'll watch with interest the litrugy usergroup to see what happens, I am completely unable to understand the Bishop's point on this. (I'm inclined to make all kinds of witty ripostes about the insecurity of certain bishops, what with all the scandal, declining income, and the like, but I'll eschew such silliness.)

You should know that I, for one, am very serious about bread and wine. (I fought grape juice communions in Central Penn. while I was in seminary, and I hear that there are Lutheran congregations in this area that offer a choice between grape juice and wine. Old Country Buffet takes charge in the church, too, apparently.) And I much prefer bread -- real bread, with crust, crumbs, and all -- to those nasty, pasty questionably glutinous wafers that we use at our mutual Church home. My usual take is this: If one of the elements offends you and/or you cannot tolerate (physically) one of the elements, commune under one species only. It's a full communion.

But is rice bread without wheat any the less bread than our wafers? It seems to me to be putting much too much confidence in repristinating Jesus' practice (which of course we do not do, anyway) to fit within a reasonable sacramental theology. (If we take seriously the "Do this," as the saying goes, wouldn't we look to the Moravians for a model?) I'll be tempted to post about this. But right now I'm too hot.

I mentioned this to a colleague this morning: In the Church's early days, the awestruck characterization of Christians was, "See how they love one another." Now, I suspect, it is "Isn't amazing that Christians have any hair left, given how they are constantly splitting them?"

We'll pick up on this issue under its own thread!


Dwight P. said...

I have been forced to re-think my position on this issue by a post worthy of its blogger's name, the Pontificator. He writes here (I'm linking to all the comments he has generated, too -- with hopes that the link works).

I generally am in awe of the Pontificator's analyses, and this is no exception. (The fact that we studied with the same professor at different times, and that he cites to Robert Jenson's book on sacramentology, in no way sway my judgment. I knew that book when it was a series of lectures -- pre-book -- which I struggled to follow as a student. It remains one of my prized memories and the book is one of my prized volumes.)

I still wonder, however, as does one or two commenters, whether the wheat issue is final? Bread, yes (and preferably a loaf or a pita-style thing, but not those awful wafers we use at Mount Olive). But leavened or unleavened (scholarship tends to suggest it was only later that unleavened bread was used in the communion, but isn't it likely that Jesus used unleavened?) And I'm not a baker, but there must be low-gluten wheat breads, and if so there must be a variety of grains that could substitute for wheat-gluten.

There is, of course, the option of communing under one species -- i.e., taking the wine only. But my experience in Roman Catholic parishes is that that is not a sure thing. I am amazed how many parishes I have visited that dole out a couple of chalices of wine and then let it go at that. Most people, then, commune with bread only. (It seems to be sort of a half-step between withholding the cup from the laity and restoring it to them, I guess.) If the child tries to commune only with the cup and hers is one of the "stingy" congregations, she is effectively denied communion.

One question the controversy raises for me is how serious her illness is. Can she tolerate any gluten? There seems to be little enough in a wafer -- certainly a low-gluten wafer (if such do, indeed, exist) -- that this may justify claims of "personal preference" and not need.

It remains a troubling issue for me, and don't expect Dash to agree with Pontificator.