When the saints go marching in
Baldilocks argues that contstructing a religion on racist lines somehow makes the resulting faith less than a religion amd more like politics. And when you're dealing with Eternity, dates like 2008 seem awfully irrelevant. (Hat tip Gerard Vanderleun)
That’s his choice, but not mine and not that of those who focus on the Redemption offered by Christ instead of getting upon the Cross themselves. To quote myself, there is no “black church.” There is only the Church.
The issue Baldilocks raises is related to one of the more interesting concepts in theology: that of the "Communion of Saints". It's defined by Wikipedia as:
The Communion of Saints (in Latin, communio sanctorum) is the spiritual union of all Christians living and the dead, those on earth, in heaven and, in Catholic belief, in purgatory. ...
The earliest known use of this term to refer to the belief in a mystical bond uniting both the living and the dead in a confirmed hope and love is by Saint Nicetas of Remesiana (ca. 335–414); the term has since then played a central role in formulations of the Christian creed.
The term is included in the Apostles' Creed, a major profession of the Christian faith whose current form was settled in the eighth century, but which originated from not long after the year 100, the basic statement of the Church's faith.
The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is based on 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul compares Christians to a single body.
Who cares about these ideas in the 21st century? Well, apart from Christians who really do subscribe to the idea that all Creation somehow participates in a single communion, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright does, in a negative way. The interesting question is whether Wright's idea of a racially based church constitutes an Anti-Communion of Saints.
The Wright project is a difficult one. Things are naturally connected. And the problem of isolating the effect of one thing upon another is one of the hardest analytical challenges knowledge engineers face. Just the other night, at a presentation describing ways to link knowledge domains together in a "smart way", I was struck by the fundamental difficulty of weighting the links between one ontology and another.
Consider an intelligence analyst who is trying to link events, people, dates and places together in a purposeful way in order to discover a pattern of terrorist operations. His fundamental challenge is to find the meaningful links between these objects among the millions of relations that naturally exist between them. A supermarket manager has the same problem. What is the meaningful pattern which ties together shelf displays, customers and sales. There are lots of relationships. But which are the significant ones?
Thus, Jeremiah Wright's attempt to redescribe the world in terms of a racial template is an audacious one. In his ideology, race defines how we should weigh links. It is one true factor in assigning weights to relationships. His Communion of Saints is defined in a very narrow way.
Personally I doubt whether things are simple as the Rev. Wright imagines. I think John Donne was nearer the mark.
No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.
I believe in the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting, forever and ever. Amen.
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