the subversion of community

reflection on Psalm 15.

Psalm 15

A psalm of David.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?

2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

Liberal (and many Evangelical) Communities typically become places to repair individuals (such that the community exists so the needs of individuals can be met) or places where the goals of the community replaces the individual (such that the individual must denied her desires/needs). These are the typical poles of community/individual.

But as I said before, the true poles are community and worship. As we look at worship the contours of community with appear. As we gaze at community, we will gather the lines of true worship.

The ‘individual’ was created when man disengaged from community (from a relationship with the Communal (Triune) God), resulting in alienated/antagonistic relationships among God and mankind, and between mankind. The poles of community/individual assume a fundamental (ontological) violence which governs relationships (even all of reality). But starting w/ the goodness of creation (including mankind) Christians assume a fundamental peace in creation that has been disrupted leading to antagonism. The only way back toward this peace/shalon beyond the violence b/w the community and individual, and between individual (competing) communities is through a prophetic connection with our Creator, which is through worship.

What I mean is not the sunday morning “worship” of singing, reading Scripture, preaching, etc. Too often this just becomes the simulacra of community, the gathering of individuals (but not necessarily). Let’s turn to Psalm 15 which started all this in me this week. It begins with the question of worship, the presence/connection of God. “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on you holy hill?” Answering this question is a one sentence (going on for five verse) explaining the practices of community: people should act righteously, speak truthfully/ not lie or slander, be good neighbors/not cheat, keep promises, and share money. The short psalm ends by bring in the individual, “He who does these tings will never be shaken.” At the beginning is a question of worship; at the end is a statement concering the individual, with community tying them securely together. And this is nothing new for the OT prophets continually linked the true worship God with the practices of the people; rites and rituals enacted without righteous relationships are considered vain.

How do we stand against/within a Consumer Capitalism, splintering us into indvidual needs and markets? How do we seek and sustan economic justices amid “communities” of class/race/gender? How do we display an alternative to the Power of desire, the will to dominate through individual choices? How can we sustain unity amid diversity? We won’t through the dialectics of community/individual. But as we worship/reconnect with God through worship, as we reorient our direction toward peace instead of violence, as we enter into the communal practices of forgiveness, truth, love, gift-giving, sacrifice (which is true worship) then we will see community flourish, growings spontaneously, organically in the soil of life shared together. Only then will artifical community, its synthetic copy, be seen as it really is. We need to replace the plastic flowers (of simulated community) which we placed around our churches to give it more life, with real plants. Only the will we become of subversive community witnessing of the kindgom.

So, community/individual or community/worship? What have I missed? What do we do now? What is over/under-stated?

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