Lästips från 1800-talet

Lästips från en föreläsning av Friedrich von Schelling år 1841

Det finns en skillnad mellan sant vetenskapliga arbeten och de som bara är tillfälligt viktiga. Inte alla verk har flutit fram ur sin källa på samma sätt och inte alla är lika originella. Från verkligt originella verk, kommer det alltid till oss en unikt uppfriskande anda som uppviglar våra produktiva krafter, medan andra verk får vår kreativitet att somna.

Sammanfattningsvis: Läs det som väcker din skaparanda, lägg undan det som får den att somna!

Jak hafwir thz wälsighnadha nampnit ihesus christus scritwit j mino hiärta

Häromdagen fick jag besök av Viktor Aldrin i mitt kontor på teologen i Lund. Vi hade inte mötts innan, men har gemensamma bekanta. Vi pratade om hans forskning, lite om min, insåg att vi hade gemensamma intressen. Ett sådant där trevligt möte som uppstår med jämna mellanrum i universitetsvärlden. Jag hade hört talas om Viktors avhandling när den försvarades, med en titel som Prayer in Peasant Communities: Ideals and Practices of Prayer in the Late Medieval Ecclesiastical Province of Uppsala, Sweden så är det ju inte så konstig att jag också tänkt att jag borde läsa den någon gång (du kan ladda ner en pdf här). Några dagar senare låg boken och väntade i mitt postfack (Republic of Letters, ftw!). Jag har bara hunnit bläddra lite smått i den, men den verkar, som jag anat, innehålla mycket spännande om hur vanligt folk bad i Sverige under medeltiden.

Ett avsnitt som fångade min uppmärksamhet handlar om hur bedjare uppmuntrades att upprepa Jesu namn som beskydd mot djävul och fara. En sorts svensk medeltida Jesusbön med andra ord. En av de källor Viktor använder sig av heter Själens tröst, en medeltida uppbyggelsebok, författad efter tysk förebild någon gång efter 1420, troligen av en Vadstenamunk. Här möter vi följande historia om St. Ignatios av Antiokia (det är hans minnesdag idag!) som exempel på hur Jesu namn skall vara i den kristnes hjärta:

 

Skärmklipp 2014-10-16 10.19.04

 

Vilket slutligen får mig att tänka på dessa rader från låten Born In Chains från Leonard Cohens (fantastiska) nya album Popular Problems:

I was idle with my soul, when I heard that you could use me
I followed very closely, but my life remained the same
But then you showed me where you had been wounded
In every atom broken is the name

Word of words, and the measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know, I cannot read the rest

!ברוך השם

 

Kristet bordsskick

Vi fortsätter idag med att låta Norman Wirzba själv få sammanfatta sin bok – här, kapitel 5, om bordsbön (och återigen från intervjun med The Other Journal)

OJ: How does eating show us our place in the world? That is, how is eating central to what it means to be humans or to be creatures? And how does eating and the act of saying grace show our place in the world?

NW: I think we could start with how our eating shows us to be interdependent creatures. We’ve sort of gotten used to the idea—and there’s a lot in our culture that encourages us to think this way—that we are self-standing beings. And if not self-standing beings, we are at least self-legislating beings, which means we get to decide for ourselves the kind of life we want, and we want to have that life on our own terms. We love the kinds of conveniences and technologies that allow us to have life cheaply, conveniently, and on demand. And what that does is it gives us a really distorted sense of who we are, because we then start to think that the world exists for us. That’s a profoundly damaging view of the world because the world doesn’t exist for us; the world exists for God. And so the question should be, how can our eating show that we understand this? And when you think about how we live and what Eric Schlosser called the “Fast Food Nation,” we see that eating has become primarily an economic act where everything hinges upon cheapness, speed, and efficiency, and in doing that, we’re doing great harm to our bodies, to agricultural workers, and to animals. We’re destroying our fields. To have all these cheap, convenient foods means that we’re not adequately caring for things.

Our duty to care for things is, I think, fundamental. It starts in Genesis, where we have a kind of foundational story in which God says we’re supposed to take care of the garden. Through much of our eating today we’re not taking care of the garden. When you look beyond the physical act of consumption and start to ask questions about the stories behind the food—what’s really going on to get that food to us?—I think you get a picture showing us that our eating and our living are not right. Ultimately, I want to help us understand what it means to be a responsible, faithful creature in the world. Eating can be a powerful way to do that.

You also ask about saying grace, which I think is really important. I grew up saying grace, and I imagine lots of people have. The act of saying grace can become formulaic, but it can also have a lot of value. We’re all very busy people and that means we don’t reflect on what we’re doing much of the time. We just go through our day by rote, and because we haven’t stopped to think about what we’re doing, we continue in ways that are damaging to creation and to ourselves. So an important part of saying grace is stopping and clearing our minds of the clutter, worry, and anxiety of all that’s going on in our heads. Then we turn our attention to what’s on the table. What we discover is that we’ve got a history of living and dying happening on that table. We’ve got a history of agricultural workers and cooks and people who have produced and prepared the food. We need time to take that in because, otherwise, we are more likely to abuse what we take for granted, what we don’t value. My hope is that we will learn to value food, not make an idol of it, but value it as God’s gift given to us.

And how do we learn to receive the gift gratefully? That leads into the next dimension of saying grace, where we learn to try to be thankful for what our life depends upon. To be grateful will invariably put us into a position of humility because we understand that without the gifts of family and friends who nurture us along the way, and without God’s gifts of fields and water and plants and animals and bees, we’d be done! Without worms and bees, there’s no fertility or pollination; and without fertility and pollination, we don’t eat; and without eating, we don’t live. And so I think eating can be a powerful sort of lens to get us into a deeper understanding of who we are and where we are and on who and what we’re dependent.

Ok att äta djur

Äta djur

Nej, kapitel 4 i Food & Faith kommer inte bli summerat en vabb-dag som denna, jag inser det nu när jag sitter och matar min förkylde son en kombination av pannkakor och vildsvinskorv föratt han inte ska vara både sjuk och hungrig. Och på tal om korven, så är det i kapitel 4 – ”Life Through Death: On Sacrifical Eating” – som Wirzba kommer till frågan om att äta djur.  Den mycket korta summeringen är att han tycker att köttätande går att motivera teologiskt. Utgångspunkten för hans resonemang är offer, och det faktum att allt liv beror på andra varelsers död. Kapitel 4 är kanske bokens bästa. Här bränner det verkligen till, och det är kanske här Wirzba tar de största riskerna. Självklart är det också det mest kontroversiella kapitlet.

Men i stället för att jag summerar kapitlet, så låter jag Wirzba göra det – åter i den utmärkta intervjun i The Other Journal. Notera att Wirzbas ok till köttätande inte är ett frikort för kristna till urskillningslös karnivarism – tvärtom. Det är en ”frihet” som kräver ansvar:

When we eat, even if we’re vegetarians, we are taking the lives of others. And the question is, how do you make yourself worthy of the life of another that you now consume? And that’s a very, very difficult question. It gets us to the heart of what it means to be a creature, because God creates a world in which everything that is alive eats, but for anything to eat, another must die. And this is where I think theology has so much to offer, because when you look at the Old Testament and the New Testament, you find that there is this use of the language of sacrifice. There are plenty of people who would want to say it’s time to put sacrifice outside of our theological imaginations, but I think that that’s precisely the wrong way to go. A lot of suspicion about sacrifice rests upon a misunderstanding of what it is. We look at the sacrifice and we fixate on the altar and the slaughter of the animal. We don’t pay nearly enough attention to the giving of the person to that animal in its nurture, in its protection, in its rearing so that the animal could be presented to God. Historically speaking, the case can be made that the offering of the animal was always accompanied by the self-offering of the person making the sacrifice. It was the same with the grains that were offered at the temple.

When you live in an agricultural society, to offer the first fruits of your fields and to offer the healthy animal in your flock is to make a profound commitment of yourself to God. Jesus shows us this in his ministry in an ultimate and practical way because he shows us that to live the Christian life is to give yourself away. You give yourself away not by despising yourself. You give yourself away by devoting your life to the nurture of others, even the nurture of the whole of creation because without the creation, none of us can live. Theologically speaking, I think what Jesus shows us is that if you want to be a truly Christian eater, you have to learn to eat in such a way that you aren’t simply taking things from the world, but that you’re also giving yourself to the world in its care, in its protection. I think that’s really what the Eucharist is all about.

The Eucharist is about eating Jesus, drinking Jesus, so that he can enter into us, and being now inside of us, he can redirect all of our activities so that we can talk about a christological form of raising animals, raising plants, and pursuing an agricultural economy. Once we have Christ in us, Christ transforms our vision, and transforms our expectations about what’s important, what should be valued, what needs to be cared for, what needs to be protected. Because of Christ, all of these things now appear to us in a new light. I think that’s the really profound thing the Scriptures show us, that there is this uniquely self-sacrificial way of relating to food and the world that then makes genuine sharing possible.

Wirzba: ”We are so gnostic”

Några kommentarer till kapitel 4, om köttätande och offer, kommer (förhoppningsvis..) under dagen. Reflektera under tiden över Wirzbas kommentar i en interjvu med The Other Journal.

TOJ: You have said that as we grow up, food plays a big role in our church life. And we see this, for example, in Sunday potlucks. Why is it, though, that we fail to see the connection between food and the gospel? How can we be faithful eaters?

NW: We are so gnostic, even when we’re trying not to be. We really think that Christianity is about saving souls and getting our souls to heaven. Church members get together to eat all this unhealthy food that has been destructive to the land and abusive of animals and agricultural workers, and we do this because we really don’t think our bodies matter. This is, of course, in direct violation of what the Gospel teaches—that Jesus becomes incarnate, in the flesh, and is seeking the reconciliation of all bodies in creation. And so, because we have become so gnostic in the way we think about the world, there can be a disconnection between our lives and the message of the good news, which Colossians 1:23 says has been preached to all creatures. This biblical directive should change dramatically the way we relate to each other in bodily form.

You might also say that we’re captive to the culture and thus eat the same way everybody else does. I’m not in a position to judge how everybody else eats because I’m not a perfect eater myself, so I must be careful here and can’t go around pointing the finger. However, I think that as we read scripture together and reflect on what eating looks like when understood in a scriptural way, we’re going to start changing some of the things we do when we have a church potluck. Maybe we will second-guess using the cheapest meats and vegetables and will be willing to purchase meats and vegetables that were raised responsibly. Maybe we’ll think about whether we’re serving our food on Styrofoam or disposable products that are not compostable. Maybe we will start asking questions about who is doing the cooking—is it assumed that the women do all the cooking and cleanup and that the men just sit around and eat, or is this a shared kind of work? Once we bring a eucharistic or christological imagination to this very basic, simply wonderful action of eating together as a church, you just never know what’s going to be the result, what kinds of good things can happen from that. I happen to think that if churches ate together more frequently that would be tremendous because so much good ministry can happen when people are around a table, eating together, sharing their life. I don’t think we should ever underestimate the importance of that. Yet we must make sure that act of eating together is a faithful witness to the kind of eating Christ wants us to do.