13 August 2009

processing: Miroslav Volf- Exclusion & Embrace

Perhaps my favorite element of this weighty work comes in Volf's careful and imaginative exegesis of Scripture in relation to the various images and metaphors he sets up for the processes of reconciliation. He masterfully supports his own devices not only through philosophical discourse (much of which is honestly lost on me), but through revisiting the stories of the Prodigal Son, the Syrophoenician Woman, the Passion narratives, and more. I also found quite useful and insightful his "double visioning" strategy for understanding others' point of view and determining best practice for love and conflict resolution. This work is rather weighty, but deserves the time, effort, and attention.

On our goal in using a "Double Vision":
"The most important theological reason for practicing double-vision lies not in the example of Jesus, but in the inner logic of the theology of the cross...on the cross God made space in God's very self for others, godless others, and opened arms to invite them in. The practice of double-vision...is the epistemological side of faith in the Crucified" (214).

"In a creaturely way we should try to emulate God's way of knowing. Not that we can crawl inside the mind of God and see things from God's panlocal perspective. But we can try to see the other concretely rather than abstractly, from within rather than simply from without. What human way of seeing corresponds to God's seeing "from everywhere"? Seeing both "from here" and "from there." Only such double vision will insure that we do not domesticate the otherness of others but allow them to stand on their own" (251).

On God's justice and grace:
"Consider, first, the foundation of the Christian community, the cross. Christ unites different 'bodies' into one body, not simply in virtue of the singleness of his person or of his vision, but above all through his suffering" (47).

"God's justice & God's kindness (Ps 145:17), God's righteousness & God's salvation (Is 45:21) are intertwined. When God saves, God does justice; when God does justice, God saves-unless one refuses to be saved. There is a profound 'injustice' in the God of the biblical tradition. It is called grace" (221).

On the Parable of the Prodigal (Luke 15):
"Departure was not an act of exclusion by which the self pulls itself out of the relationships without which it would not be what it is, and cuts itself off from responsibilities to others and makes itself their enemy" (158).

"For him [the prodigal] whose project was to 'un-son' himself and who is still in a distant country, 'sonship' can only be a memory, but it is a memory that defines his present so much that it sets him on a journey back" (159).

"Without the father's having kept the son in his heart, the father would not have put his arms around the prodigal. No confession was neccesary for the embrace to take place for the simple reason that the relationship did not rest on moral performance and therefore could not be destroyed by immoral acts. The son's return from 'the distant country' and the father's refusal to let the son out of his heart sufficed" (159).

On memory's role in forgiveness:
"In my memory of the other's transgression the other is locked in unredemption and we are bound together in a relationship of nonreconciliation. The memory of the wrong suffered is also a source of my own nonredemption" (133).

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