Our intertwined stories of the call of Abram, the promise to him and Sara and the call Jesus gives are foundational to the universe of the Bible. The phrase “faith [or life] is a journey” has become a trite over-used platitude. Yet that’s what they depict: a radical rupture with the past, the familiar, the established in order to strike out for something new, different, whole, blessed. In that movement life is and becomes. Identity is given and realized in a denial of self, a forgetting of self, a looking to the larger world in which love of God is indissociable from love of neighbor. Love then is an active, fierce verb one that both necessitates and engenders solidarity other-focused love.
One of the greatest interpreters of our present time, Zygmunt Bauman, says we live in a time which turns into a shapeless mass tending to a constant and relentless change. Liquid modernity, his title for our era, is: a dimension in which the lasting gives way to the transient, the need to the desire, and the necessity to the utility. Our identity changes from being a fact that we are to a task we much accomplish through our work, production, consumption, as well as by being innovators, trend-setters and early adaptors. Our identity is never complete(d). Life thus becomes a passage of self-manipulation, constant improvement and dizzying re-creation, characterized by rampant consumerism. [abstract] [pdf version of Liquid Modernity]
Our basic existential question as human beings is one we wrestle with through faith, education and identity-formation. Who are we? How are we individuals? How are we a society together? What is life? What is a good life? Does a good life necessitate relationship with others? Is there a common good? Bauman says that increasingly we determine ourselves by purchasing what others tell us we need to be complete.
American educator Arthur W. Foshay writes “the one continuing purpose of education, since ancient times, has been to bring people to as full a realization as possible of what it is to be a human being.” Education is a process, a journey. In this time of the academic year in our city of Oakland in which only 48% of those students who started High School in 2015 finished. What is providing them, us with the tools and resources required for our journey of discovery and identity.
Examen Questions to Ponder:
- Faith is talked about in these scriptures as a life-vocation, a rupture with the past for a new life that is becoming. It’s not an add-on or downloadable app. As you reflect on your life journey how has faith been a rupture, a new beginning, a life-vocation? How has that been a blessing for you? Or possibly a great challenge (maybe still today)?
- Who or what do you follow in your daily life? Where do you prioritize the investment of your time, energy and resources? Biblicist theologian Walter Brueggemann writes that human culture calls us to death, whereas by faith we are invited to life. How do you see that in these scriptures? In your life? Our city? How are you being called to life, to call others to it?