So, I was a bit negative yesterday. And I want to relate what I think I am coming to believe, or more to the point to talk about the life I have chosen and how it seems to stand in opposition to the larger social patterns I ranted against yesterday.
I find my attention is given over these days to small groups of people, with whom I have contact within the city of Chicago. This includes the homeless I meet on the street most days, my neighbors the members of Reconciler, a few artist I know, some people from Chicago's goth scene, and friends of friends. The extension of this network actually reaches quite far, though my attention is not given to the far reaches of the network. My life is full of small forms of resistance within a very localized setting. My wife and I live in an intentional Christian community, I started with two other pastors an ecumenical congregation, I drink coffee from locally owned coffee shops, and buy my coffee from a shop that roast its own fair trade organic coffee. My wife and I take the CTA though we probably could afford to have a car, we are members of the car sharing program I-go Cars. Perhaps these things mean little or nothing on some international grand scale, certainly these actions do not affect the people in the Sudan, or Israel/Palestine. But some coffee grower somewhere is getting more for his beans because of the local coffee shop I frequent and the owners are concerned about the community in which they live and work. In very localized ways things are different.
I am becoming more interested in particularity and difference than grand universalisms whether or not they could be labeled imperialist or liberative. I am finding that freedom comes in accepting limits, in accepting the smallness of human life, that in fact the kingdom of God is about "these little ones", and the "least of these." It is not in grand schemes of any kind. So, when Politicians try to convince me their party or their ideology will save the world, I once believed them or at least wanted to believe them, I now find those claims even from those I might agree with in someway as patent lies, as the worst sort of untruth that could be promoted in our society.
I am coming to see that if the world is to be changed, we must not seek to become large and influential, for the sake of the least, but we must become small, and live particular (perhaps even insignificant in the eyes of the grand schemers) lives amongst particular people, and simply be the "least of these."
I believe grand things can come from the particular and the small, because when i let myself be with what is right here I find worlds of beauty all around me. I have come to see that more often than not when we attempt to change the world and save humanity, we loose sight of those whom we could touch near us, and we come to despise those persons closest to us. I am coming to think that no one can change the world. We can only live transformed lives that open the world to being transformed.
In a world of celebrity, ideology, and grand schemes it is hard to simply be. So if I rant at times about these grand schemes and schemers it is because sometimes the lure of ideology and the ideologue(and one can find these in the church or among the religious as much as in politics) seems so good, sometimes the pull to change the world and save humanity is so appealing, and my everyday work with a small group of people almost seems meaningless in the face of a world in crisis. But that is the lie, and there is a denial of particularity and difference in these grand schemes, that some how one ideology or one nation or the powerful can make everything a utopia. I am also comign to see that these grand schemes are all a dream of an amorphous unity, a singular solution that all must conform to. I resist all these universalisms, these Messianic Utopian dreams, in order to preserve particularity and to live as the "least of these." Or at least I think that is my goal even if I must admit I am tempted by the grandeur of power and the powerful. And ranting at times is my only form of resistance.