Corporate Personhood: An Essential Spiritual Reality

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Corporate Personhood.  It’s basic to Judaeo-Christian heritage, though neither religion uses that term.  Not only is it basic to how ancient Hebrews viewed themselves, but it profoundly grounds Christian experience as inextricably corporate:  a body of believers in a mystical unity so profound, of such depth that I think it reaches into silence.  For it strikes one dumb – in Awe. Or comes to fruition in prayer, in poetry, in actions of self-giving and the gift of self-transcendance.  To seeing, as Paul did, Christ within (oneself and others) and all of us in Fellowship – in Him.

The Eucharist is precisely the Sacrament of this Mystery.  Whose beginnings can be traced back to Genesis.  As John’s Gospel makes clear.

Corporate Personhood.  We see it first in Jacob.  The man who wrestled with God. The man whose name was thereafter changed to Israel.  A very human man, a trickster who was later tricked again and again.  A man who had to flee his homeland (as later Moses had to flee) in fear of his life.  A man who (like Moses) met God alone in the wilderness.   Was promised God would be with him.

Jacob, Israel, stands for both a person and A People:  Corporate Personhood.  To speak of Israel is to recall Jacob as Father of a people and as this People’s We Identity – in terms of both nation and religion.

The Temple, so important to Israel’s public worship, so mourned by the Hebrews in exile, that when they were exiled (and deprived of Temple worship) they arrived at a deeper understanding of Yahweh as present in His word, His Torah.   Yahweh:  A God who called.  Who promised.  Who traveled with His People.  Who heard their cries and supplications.   Who inspired Prophets and Psalmist alike, whose actions were alive in history.  A God who Spoke.  A Living God.  A Personal Holy Presence.

It was this Presence in Jesus:  God With Us.

John’s Gospel, which so profoundly presents this Mystery of Corporate Personhood flowing from Christ, speaks early on of Jacob, of the ladder stretched between heaven and earth, what Jacob termed the Gate of Heaven, and Jesus promises his disciples they will see more than Jacob did.  And John’s Gospel does not disappoint.

When Paul speaks of Mystical Body he is speaking of Corporate Personhood.  Of the Fellowship with each other in Christ, in the Trinity – a mutual sharing of Divine Life.

In Christianity the concept of Temple (so revered, longed for, loved) was replaced by Christ Himself.  Christ in each believer.  Christ in the Body of Believers.  Christ, The Word.  Christ shared out.  Paul understood this so well. Both mystically and practically.

There is so much more one could say about this….  Let us just dwell with it.

Slicing time: 1/4000 of a Second

July 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Who would have imagined that we could break up Time?

That we could capture what is unseen to the naked eye?

Each.  Tiny.  Fraction of Time.  Matters.

Alan's Camera captured this from a fountain at 1/4000 sec.

And apropos of nothing (except the concept of Time, TS Eliot’s kind of time), I’ve been thinking of translating Goethe’s famous lyric poem, well, the most famous lyric poem in all of German literature.

First a timely quote from Eliot:

….. As we grow older
the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).

The evening with Alan‘s photograph album… And so… back to Goethe, a Romantic poet, so different from Eliot, who always must lead us into the darkest dark.  But I digress…

Goethe’s Wandrers Nachtlied. Literally, “Wayfarer’s Night Song.”   What we would call a “Lullaby.”   Should I call it Hiker’s Lullaby?   Trekker’s Lullaby?  Both would be accurate.  But I’ve settled on Pilgrim’s Lullaby, because I think this title provides a deeper connotation for what I see in the poem.

The German has very few lines.  And few syllables in each line.  I’ve tried to follow that pattern.  As well as to keep to the simplicity of words, the directness of language.  All to hint at an atmosphere the poem conveys.

So here goes…

Pilgrim’s Lullaby                                                                              

Repose nestles over the hilltops.

Hardly a breath rustles the trees.

Birdsong’s hush quiets the woodland.

Bide your time.  Soon…

You’ll rest in peace too.

Strictly speaking, the second line should end in the word “treetops” – but so as not to repeat “tops” and to limit the number of syllables, I took a bit of liberty.

…………………………………………….

In case you know German, here’s the Original.  I memorized it so long ago…

Über allen Gipfeln
Ist Ruh,
In allen Wipfeln
Spürest du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest du auch.

The rhyme scheme is exquisite.   Schubert set it to music.

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