Friday, July 11, 2008

Two from Cavanaugh on the nation-state and the Eucharist

"Politics is a practice of the imagination. Sometimes politics is the 'art of the impossible,' but it is always an art, and engages the imagination just as art does. We are often fooled by the seeming solidarity of the materials of politics, its armies and offices, into forgetting that these materials are marshalled by acts of imagination. How does the provincial far boy become persuaded that he must travel as a soldier to another part of the world and kill people he knows nothing about? He must be convinced of the reality of borders, and imagine himself deeply, mystically, united to a wider national community that stops abruptly at those borders. The nation-state is, as Benedict Anderson has shown, one important and historically contingent type of 'imagined community' around which our conceptions of politics tend to gather."

"The Eucharist defuses both the false theology and false anthropology of will and right by the stunning 'public' leitourgia in which humans are made members of God's very Body. 'Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me' (john 6:57). Augustine envisions Jesus saying, 'I am the food of the fully grown; grow and you will feed on me. And you will not change me into you life the food your flesh eats, but you will be changed into me.' the contrast with Locke's explanation of property - that through labour one assimilates things from the state of nature to the property in one's person - is extremely suggestive. Indeed, in the Eucharist the foundational distinction between mine and thine is radically effaced (cf. Acts 2:44-47). Christ's restoration of the imago dei in humanity is consummated in individuals in the Eucharist, in which our separateness is overcome precisely by participation in Christ's body."

1 comment:

Irina said...

I have never thought of comparing Christian faith and politics this way - it's true politicians try to convince the public that they are a part of our lives (when in the reality they are far away from the ordinary folks) but Jesus INVITES us to participate in His life.
What a thought!! I've been reading your posts and just love the way you think - you have a way to make the theology come alive and close home.