“We’d like to cultivate a sense of community” is a nauseating phrase. It’s not that I disapprove of community, but rather that we’d settle so readily for a mere “sense of” it. We desire a sense of belonging, but seem unable to pursue belonging proper. We must resist our tendency towards a mere “sense of” things and follow the arduous path towards the real.
4 responses to “Against “A Sense Of””
we work so hard to get a bit of paper in our pocket. then to spend our weekends driving around from big box store to big box store…looking for a place to place our big bucks! we come home and sit on our big couch to watch our new big ass screen and the movies recently added to our collection. we think life is grand with all this stuff we’ve accumulated but seriously people…do we have a clue what happiness is?
a “sense” of happiness…yes, i agree. we are deluded and only instructed by our whims and wants of the moment which are often so darn exahusted that the easiest, most gratifying, beautiful, sensory pleasing actions will do. sigh…the relationships get put off once again.
(thanks for the post and letting me stand on my soap box for a moment)
It’s true. Permit me to indulge in a rant of agreement.
The language of “a sense of” leans towards some sort of emotivist Christianity. I am part of a small Mennonite University and the most common comment given by students in interviews about the University is “I love the sense of community.” This begs me to ask: Is that all there is here? A “sense” of community? I thought we WERE actually a community! Or even when a person finds oneself overwhelmingly welcomed into a community, any community. People exclaim: “What a sense of hospitality!” as if hospitality and community are things we feel rather than things we participate in. We ARE a community. We ARE the body of Christ, because God gives us to ourselves. We receive and participate and become the community. We don’t “sense” God’s presence; rather, and Rowan Williams puts it so well here,
“For God to create is for God to ‘commit’ to his action, his life, to sustaining a reality that is different from him, and doing so without interruption. If I might offer an analogy…think about an electric light burning. The electric current causes the light to shine, but that doesn’t mean that the electric power is something that was around only at the moment you put the switch on, so that the light itself is a rather distant result. On the contrary, the light is shining here and now because the electric current is flowing here and now. In the same way, it is the ‘current’ of divine activity that is here and now making us real.”(Williams, Tokens of Trust, 35).
In other words, “a sense of” points to our lack of trust in God’s work in the world. We don’t “sense” God’s work in the world (as if it is something “out there”); we are God’s work in the world.
This is right, “a sense of” is not enough. We have to make it real and very tangible.
Amen. I’ll take the real thing with Jesus at the center instead of a sense of it, thank you very much.