Friday, October 23, 2009

Torture and Eucharist

"The Eucharist is the promise and demand that the church enact the true body of Christ now, in time. Worldly kingdoms have declared the Kingdom of God indefinitely deferred, and the poor are told to suffer their lot quietly and invisibly. In the Eucharist the poor are invited now to come and to feast in the Kingdom. The Eucharist must not be a scandal to the poor. It demands real reconcilliation of oppressed and oppressor, tortured and torturer. Barring reconciliation, Eucharist demands judgement"
William Cavanaugh Torture and Eucharist 263.

Cavanaugh isn't just talking about any old sin here, he is talking about the use of power in a way that is fundamentally against and threatens the Christian community.
It isn't a perfectionist ethic of church, and is specifically targeted at the totalitarian regime of Chile.
Nevertheless, how might we think about this in a democratic society that cheerfully ignores torture done on it's behalf by it's governement? (Not necesserily saying Australia here).

Cavanaugh also draws attention to the fact that the Eucharist reminds us of the one who was tortured to death on our behalf. It seems fashionable in some evangelical circles to emphasise the social aspect of the Lords supper by eating a meal together (which I think is great), to the point of ignoring it's reference to the broken body of Jesus Christ and the pouring out of his blood. (which I'm not so happy about).
What is lost is the fact that our sociality is based on this tortured one, that we share in his death and resurrection, that we look for his return. While I'm up for our welcome reflecting the welcome of God, if God's hospitality isn't emphasised, that is, if Jesus isn't recognised as the host of the feast, our meals become an expression of our (usually) middle class enjoyment of each other. Thus the feast belongs to those who are happy in this world, who are comfortable in this world, who get along with each other.(After all, they are probably the ones providing the food). The step to sociality is taken too quickly. There is little to no room for the notion of excluding the unreconciled.
I think the current turn to the 'symbol-less' meal represents the worst of Eucharistic theology (Jesus dined for my sins).

Hmm, rambling thoughts


byron smith said...

Jesus dined for my sins.
I love it. That yours?

Mike W said...