Daily Life and the Eucharist–So, how does this relate to the proverbial person in the pew? What difference does this have to do with our daily lives?
first off, the reason why Milbank’s proposal is appealing to me is that it sees the different images of atonement (ranson, sacrifice, victory) as linguistic metaphors rather than literal statements of Christ’s atonement. “Theories” of the atonement spring from taking one of these metaphors literally to the exclusion of the rest. I’m tired of all these theories of atonement. Where are the theories of reconciliation, or adoption? For this is where the gospel is headed…(interestingly, Milbank’s latest book is called “Being Reconciled” so maybe he feels the same).
Second, all Christian action (practical daily living) needs a frame of reference to give it meaning. But every action is preceeded by a “structuring of the world”, a defining of reality, which makes our actions meaningful. In this way the symbolic act of framing the world is before the physical act in the world. Our exchanging the sign of Forgiveness (which unites us to the person of Forgiveness) frames the world of all our action. The moment of language is before reality; the imagination before the action. (in this way we see how the Eucharist is more than mere rememberance, nor a spiritual feeling, although I would still want to affirm the significance of both).
third, eucharist as sign which doesn’t shift, sign of the same rather than perpetual difference and change. In a society of planned obselescence, consumer fickleness, and political double-speak, the Eucharist continues to signify the same, unchanging event, centering our reality.
lastly, in an age where we have left an understanding of the both “use-value” (the function of an object) and “exchange-value” (what we can buy/sell an object for)[Marx], and entered an age of “sign-value”[Baudrillard] where an object merely signifies something else, or something we aspire to (i.e. wealth, status, cultural sub-group identity; think of name brands and what they signifies. Thinking the Eucharist as linguistic sign allows it to enter into this dialogue and transform it, uniting use-, exchange-, sign-values b/c the element function as natural sustinance for the body, represents the exchange from death to life in Christ body, and is naturally a sign which we pass signifying the reality we aspire to.
The second and fourth aspects I think hold the most promise for connecting daily life with the Eucharistic practice. However, there is much more thinking that we all need to do on this.