Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Response to David T.'s comment

David T. has commented on my post on January 18th. Below is my response to his comment.
Thank you for your comment. Monogamy and the nuclear family are often bound together in our culture, and, as you point out, children’s loss of stable relationships within the fragile nuclear family can be very hard on them. Of course, the more complex webs of adult relationships you write of are a good remedy for the shortcomings of the nuclear family and probably reflect to some extent the relationships within our ancestral foraging bands. In the case of my own family, my children had extended relationships. This was especially true of my younger son who found great strength within the family of his best friend, whom he met in second grade. My son and his friend initiated this relationship, and all that the rest of us needed to do was to encourage it. I think that families would do well to be on the lookout for the possibilities of such ad hoc extended families and then to foster them.
What can be said about fundamentalists? Not much except to emphasize that if you start with a false premise, you get a bad outcome. The rest of us have to keep on offering other positions in contrast to this lust for certainty. One good alternative is Cupitt’s solar living: Give yourself away like the sun, shining for all, doing your best without regard for reward or the assurance of success. This is difficult, but it is a lot of the reason why Jesus is such a compelling figure. As Cupitt points out, his “…almost existentialist ethic of open whole-hearted expression, and freedom from anxiety or calculation” (p82 in “A Great New Story,” 2010) can be found in some of Jesus’ sayings in the Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 5:13-16, 38-48, and 6:25-34) but not in other passages (5:17-33, and 6:1-20 and 24), which are mixed in with the other sayings. These “…take for granted the value of a strictly-interpreted religious Law, and a piety of secret good works and hidden inwardness which pursues and expects a heavenly reward after death.” (p81, 82, “A Great New Story”) Cupitt draws attention to the fact that “…the conflict between the original outlook of Jesus himself and the remodeled Jesus of the emergent Church is already deeply embedded within the best texts we have, making it very difficult in all periods for people to hear Jesus’ own voice. (p 81, “A Great New Story”) Obviously, these two opposing views are still with us. No wonder we struggle to follow Jesus. It’s either extremely difficult or just a matter of “faith.” May the Spirit be with you in your struggle.


David Townsend said...

Of course, we've got a massive bank of data (and very extensive analysis of the data) on a more collective model of child-rearing, within the context of a modern "Western" society, from the practices of Israeli kibbutzim, especially in the earlier, more idealistic phase of the movement.

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