My latest guest post over on the Political Theology Blog:
Accustomed as we are to thinking in terms of an individual-state polarity, it can be difficult for us to recover the political significance—and responsibility—of the individual as the bearer of the social understanding. We too readily cede custody and responsibility for the preservation of our national and social understanding and character to public institutions and state agencies and forget that we are also entrusted with it as individuals. When our societies decay or disintegrate, as individuals we can shear off into fractured groups, cut loose from any deeper shared identity and life beyond ourselves. Alternatively, we can remain to give voice to our jeremiads from the sidelines, deeming our accountability discharged in the provision of cultural critique or lament over national apostasy or declension.
As we read the beginning of Mark’s gospel, it might be worth considering what sites and sources of communal and national identity are the equivalent of the banks of the Jordan for us. Where might we as individuals recover the lost or compromised self-understanding of our communities? How can we forge communities of renewal, from which the life of our wider societies can draw new strength? How can we actively take responsibility as individuals for the health and wellbeing of our communities? How might we as individuals make the paths of the Lord straight within the places and societies where we find ourselves? How can we prepare the way for and proclaim the Lord’s arrival into our common life? As individuals we have been formed and shaped by our societies and communities: through our committed action, memory, and hope, we can be the means of their renewal.
Read the entire piece here.