Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Simone Weil's Religionless Christianity - Part I


I have on several occasions heard references to Bonhoeffer as a theologian who articulates a 'religionless Christianity'. What I have not heard is this notion being attached to Simone Weil's reflections in Waiting for God. I am sure these connections have been made but I am surprised they are not more broadly engaged. In this collection of writings the six letters of Weil, philosopher, socialist and mystic, are addressed to a catholic priest who early had a profound impact on her. Weil wrestles with and rejects the attraction of being baptized into the church. Here is an excerpt.


In any case, when I think of the act by which I should enter the church as something concrete, which might happen quite soon, nothing gives me more pain than the idea of separating myself from the immense and unfortunate multitude of unbelievers. I have the essential need, and I think I can say the vocation, to move among men of every class and complexion, mixing with them and sharing their life and outlook, so far that is to sat as conscience allows, merging into the crowd and disappearing among them, so that they show themselves as they are, putting off all disguises with me. It is because I long to know them so as to love them just as they are. For if I do not love them as they are, it will be they whom I love, and my love will be unreal.

The language used here is quite relevant to my life. Prior to becoming a pastor I spent a year working in a factory greenhouse. It was in that context that I had some of the most meaningful discussions on faith and truth with people who likely would not be caught dead in church. As a pastor now I come carrying the weight of whatever stigma a person may attach to my office. And much more of my time is spent thinking of how I can attract heavily churched kids to a 'fun' event so that I can feel successful. To put it lightly this would seem to be missing the point.
The question by Weil is well taken. Can I love someone if they will not be themselves with me? I suspect this will be the case if someone feels the need to protect themselves against the power of my office and institution.
More excerpts to follow.

8 comments:

nannykim said...

But the question is --how much is anyone really themselves with other people? We all tend to hide our true selves from others to one extent or another. We often judge others, not just because they wear the cloth....it can be for other things. Either way, it takes time to get to know anyone intimately---and time is one thing our culture seems short on. I suspect we need to love those who hide from us, those who are not really showing all they are because we do not know that many people intimately---if that were the standard by which we chose to love then our love would be uncaring and shallow.

IndieFaith said...

It is of course true that we all work with various boundaries that we place within our relationships. The call is to love always whatever the limitations.
However, there was an element of Jesus' ministry as well as many people's personal experience in which representing a religious institution actual hinders rather than facilitates intimate relationships. I would not push Weil's comments to far but it is certainly am aspect of the church that needs to be acknowledged.

nannykim said...

Yes, your response is true. Thanks.

hineini said...

To me the more prior question is what do we mean by "love"? Does a "position" have any place in a loving relationship? I really am uncomfortable with a relationship with the other being mediated by some title or position I hold. Using the story of Abraham, the demand by God to sacrifice his son superceded Abraham's paternal responsibility to his son. Everything was demanded of Abraham by the other, nothing could be held in reserve, not even "the son whom you love".

IndieFaith said...

You seem to be commented on some sore of the relationship with the divine as opposed to inter-personal relationships. Your point is well taken though I suspect you would also point to loving neighbour as self as further indication for abandoning of "position".
I'll post some more on Weil and see where we go.

hineini said...

When I speak of "the other" I very rarely distinguish between human and divine other; other is other. For me its the Matt 25 idea where a dinstinction between person and God is challenged. (Whatever you do for the least you do for me). I think what I was trying to get at was that a response to the other can have no limits so a "position" would make me feel suspicious of the limits that might place on my love for my neighbour.

IndieFaith said...

Did you read the post over at ITM that I linked to?

Anonymous said...

プチ家出のぞき童貞サイトお尻パイズリアナルぶっかけ乳首セックスの仕方熟女の性欲ギャル童貞狩り妊婦母乳無垢女教師エロエロ水着痴女童貞 年齢