Friday, November 09, 2007

the rhythm of the eschaton

Regarding the previous post, I think I've been articulating the question poorly. I want to shift from trying to think cyclically to thinking rhythmically about linear time. In Heschel's text I was drawn in by his vision of every moment being a window into eternity. Buber's text also talks about any one encounter having the potential of opening up the heavens in a meeting of Eternal Thou. Jewish mysticism is helpful in its emphasis on the rhythmic aspect of time (Sabbath) which fills each week with longing for the Day of Delight. In talking to a few Orthodox friends, I was pointed to Alexander Schmemann who talks about "Eucharistic Time"- the idea that the Eucharist is eschatological in the sense of "already, not yet." Every moment is filled with Christ's on-going death and resurrection and invites us to long for the ultimate day of his return. This is why we need the rhythms of the church calender to remind us of this reality that makes our sense of time deeper, richer, fuller...

A quote from Walter Benjamin: We know the Jews were prohibited from investigating the future. The Torah and the prayers instruct them in remembrance. This stripped the future of its magic, to which all those succumb who turn to the soothsayers for enlightenment. This does not imply, however, that for the Jews the future turned into homogeneous, empty time. For every second of time was the strait gate through which the Messiah might enter."

6 comments:

joy said...

hey phil, i've been meaning to leave a comment for awhile and here i am now. i don't know if this answers your question for awhile back i was reading a book called the dance of the dissident daughter by sue monk kidd (same author as the secret life of bees) and she talks about going back to the connections with the cycles of earth, being in touch with nature. it is life moving forward but rhythmically. i never did quite finish the book but the thought has stayed with me to the point of placing objects in my living space to remind me of life's cycles, rhythms. i am one that can easily get bored with life's details that these objects remind me of the sun rising and setting and of seasons (though as we know not all parts of the world have them so drastically!). i feel part of this perspective is an innately maternal perspective versus the strong paternal perspective of the eternal that has been expressed in the past. it's coming to a balance. seeing rhythm in life and in the ordinary.
it's a thought.
joy

elnellis said...

totally! thanks for your thoughts on that joy. ecological time theory is deeply connected to the feminine. i have spent a lot of time in some articles and books on this and i think it is becoming more important to think in these categories. as westerners, we have little concept of time other than that the weekend is to cut loose and relax or party. we don't have to be aware of what fruits and veggies are available seasonally because everything is brought to us from another place where it is in season. we can get ripe strawberries any time of the year and even go skiing in the summer if where it doesn't naturally snow... but the visa card can get us on snow if we want.
now i'm rambling but i love your thoughts and can't wait to see you and luke next month!
peace

Todd Trembley said...

In regards to being more connected to the seasons through our food, Sarah and I have really been enjoying a cookbook called Simply In Season. It is organized by season and has recipes that incoprorate the produce that is available in each season. We highly recommend it.

elnellis said...

that sounds really cool. i'll check it out.

Aaron said...

phil... i'm coming in late on this but i thought i'd throw in my $.02...

i keep coming back to the idea of the eucharist within this context. i know you've mentioned it above, along with Schmemann, who will give you a great perspective from the East. I'm wondering if you will get a different perspective if you investigate the idea of transubstantiation as it played out in the folk religiion in the Western church in and around the 13th century. the drama of the liturgy centered around the eucharist as one witnessed the changing of the bread to the body of Christ-- consequently, one was witnessing and participating in the ongoing sacrifice of Christ. (which you've alluded to above.)

also... i'm reading a book called Theology, Music, and Time by Jeremy Begbie... it's exploring theology and time through the lens of music. while i haven't read this far yet, chapter 6 is about Eucharist and Repetition... sounds like it could be in a similar vein to what you speak of. check it out, or i can fill you in when i get there in the next few days.

lastly, i'm not sure if this is applicable, but i've been amazed at the repetitive nature of the biblical narrative as it has been explained within the context of varying theologies... some of this is found in narrative theology, some of it isn't easily labeled... but what i'm speaking of is the kind of supersessionism proposed by NT Wright (i.e. Christ is the true Israel, the new Adam, the new exodus in mark, etc.)... and that much of the narrative of the Bible centers around this idea of remembering and retelling the stories of creation and the exodus. (see the Gospels, Isaiah for a retelling of the exodus, and creation and exodus imagery throughout the entire old testament.) a further way this can be seen played out in a different context would be in recapitulation theology, in which Irenaeus suggested that Christ was the new Adam, and systematically undid Adam's disobedience by encountering symbolically similar situations but walking through them obediently. All these random thoughts to say, it seems to me that this understanding of "history repeating itself" while still moving forward was an important part of the Biblical worldview, or at least in the mind of the Ancient Near Eastern Jew...
sorry about the very random nature of this comment... i'm about 2 minutes away from the pillow and am lucky to be able to even string two words together at this time...

Todd Trembley said...

Aaron,

I believe the type of repetition that you're talking about can be found in Kierkegaard and is central to much of postmodern thought. It is not simple repetition, as in the repeating of the same or the identical, but is rather a repetition in which difference emerges. We might call it creative repetition. For instance, whenever Derrida reads old books, he does so in such a way that new meaning emerges. This emergence of the other (other meanings, other voices) is what is central to deconstruction.

We can see the same impulse at work in the ancient-future worship movement. Reintroducing ancient practices, including the liturgies of the historical church can serve to not only connect us with the past but can also be creatively done such that we live into the future.

I think that the best way to think what is happening in these moments of creative repetition is that the future is breaking into the present. Specifically these are eschatalogical moments, when the fullness of the Kingdom of God (an eschatalogical reality) breaks into the present.

All this is just to say that I agree with the emphasis upon rhythms that is happening here.

Peace.